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President Obama's New Debate Coach: Jed Bartlet?

Date October 08, 2012

President Barack Obama, Martin Sheen

Critics and supporters alike have said that President Barack Obama gave a lackluster performance in his first debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney last week — and now a (fictional) former Oval Office resident has stepped in to help.

Why is the West Wing cast reuniting?

The Newsroom's Aaron Sorkin resurrected his beloved West Wing commander-in-chief, Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) this weekend, penning a scene between Bartlet and Obama for The New York Times. Sorkin's mini script appeared in an article by Maureen Dowd Saturday The Timescolumnist said she spoke to Sorkin after the debate, during which the screenwriter (and Obama supporter) described himself as "angrier than when the Jets lost to the 49ers last Sunday without ever really being on the field."

Sorkin's scene envisions Obama visiting President Bartlet's oft-mentioned farmhouse in New Hampshire, where the former president chastises Obama for the debate performance and asks if he was under the influence of allergy medication or general anesthesia. "I'm a father of daughters, you're a father of daughters," Bartlet says to Obama. "It looked to me like right before you went on stage, Sasha told you she likes a boy in her class who has a tattoo."

Sorkin's current leading man, The Newsroom's Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), also appears in the scene when Obama notices him holding debate moderator Jim Lehrer in a hammerlock in another room of the farmhouse. (Obama: "Is that Jeff Daniels?" Bartlet: "That's Will McAvoy, he just looks like Jeff Daniels.")

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Through Bartlet, Sorkin criticizes both Lehrer and Obama for not challenging Romney throughout the debate on everything from the former governor's tax plan to his assertions about the deficit.

Bartlet's main piece of advice? "Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words:  'Governor, you're lying.'"

What do you think of Sorkin's take?

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