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6 things The West Wing taught us about The State of the Union

Bartlet for America.

west Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing. Source: NBC

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama delivered his State of the Union address in Washington last night.

Now, if you’re up on your American politics you’ll know exactly what the annual speech is all about. Or maybe you’re just a West Wing fan…

During its seven seasons The West Wing features five episodes about The State of the Union.

Here are a few of the things it taught us…

The president practices loads. LOADS.

Just to, you know, iron out any kinks.


There’s a designated survivor

Every year one member of government is absent from the State of the Union address just in case the Capitol is hit by a deadly attack.

This year it was the Obama administration’s transportation secretary Anthony Fox.

Source: William Mooney/YouTube

Things get changed at the last minute

In the case of President Bartlett’s third State of the Union it was a:

…Bipartisan Blue Ribbon commission to study the long-term future of entitlement programs.

Our favourite kind of Bipartisan Blur Ribbon commission, to be fair.


Actually, this announcement was made by CJ Cregg three minutes before the start of the address. Loads of time.

Like, really last minute

Toby and Sam, sweating bullets:


Everyone claps as the president makes the squeaky bum walk to do the speech

And he walks in Top Gun-esque formation.


The all important ‘dials’

If the West Wing taught us anything, it’s that every single word of the State of the Union address is tested, tested again and then measure to see what the American public thinks of of it.

They dial up if they like what he’s saying. They dial down if they don’t. The numbers lead to a central computer.
Like the Nielsens.
The people with the dials, they’re behind a screen somewhere?
They’re in Macon County, they’re in Portland in Los Feliz, California. Norman, Oklahoma.

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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