'West Wing' President Gives Obama Post-Debate Advice

Martin Sheen as Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet

Martin Sheen played Democratic President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet in Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. The series began one year into the Bartlet presidency and lasted for seven seasons, ending with his successor (played by Jimmy Smits) getting elected and taking office.

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Aaron Sorkin penned a script with Martin Sheen's character telling the real-life commander in chief how to get back in the game.

The West Wing’s President Bartlet soothed liberals during what they considered the dark days of the George W. Bush White House. Now he has returned (sort of) to patch up President Obama after what political observers called a defeat in Wednesday's presidential debate.

According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin provided her with an account of Bartlet (Martin Sheen), now retired and living in a New Hampshire farmhouse, doling out advice to the real-life president.

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There are a few jokes. Newsroom’s Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) has debate moderator Jim Leher in a hammerlock in Bartlet’s home, and the fictional president advises Obama on dealing with Sasha liking a boy with a tattoo. But the scene primarily serves as an open letter from liberals to the president on how to proceed in the remaining debates.

Bartlet tells Obama to ignore handlers who warned him against appearing condescending and just go for it.

“Thirty straight months of job growth — blown off,” Bartlet says. “G.M. showing record profits — unmentioned. 'Governor, would you still let Detroit go bankrupt as you urged us to do four years ago?'”

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Bartlet trains Obama to refute Romney at every turn, and use the phrase “You’re lying, Governor." If Romney charges Obama doubled the deficit, Obama is to respond: “When I took office in 2009, the deficit was 1.4 trillion. According to the C.B.O., the deficit for 2012 will be 1.1 trillion. Either you have the mathematics aptitude of a Shetland pony or, much more likely, you’re lying.“

The complete scene can be read at the Times.

In real life, the cast of The West Wing recently reunited to create a non-partisan voter turnout PSA. Earlier this year, the cast got together for a Funny or Die video.