Why We Wish Cornelius Fudge Was More Like Jed Bartlet from “The West Wing”
The United States of America’s presidential primaries are officially underway! America is deciding what qualities to look for in a leader. But examples of good and bad leaders can be found in the world outside of the current crop of candidates. For example, how would Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge compare to President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet?
Jed Bartlet was the president in Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, which originally aired 1999-2007. The show follows the exploits of the president and his staff and is often considered an inside look at the operations of an American presidency on a day-to-day basis. Cornelius Fudge was England’s Minister of Magic during the first five years of Harry’s schooling.
Comparing the two leaders can show us why Fudge didn’t have the skills to be in charge during the rest of Harry’s education and gives us ten reasons we wish Cornelius Fudge was more like Jed Bartlet.
Reason 1: President Bartlet was very educated.
We assume that Cornelius Fudge went to Hogwarts, but Bartlet had a robust post-secondary education at both the University of Notre Dame and the London School of Economics, where their motto is “to understand the causes of things.” That is certainly more academically minded than Hogwarts’ motto: “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”
Reason 2: Before becoming president, Bartlet won a Nobel Prize in Economics.
There is even speculation that if the show had continued, President Bartlet would have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for some of his actions as president.
Fudge gave himself the Order of Merlin, using his position to give himself a title of importance instead of earning recognition from an outside source.
Reason 3: Bartlet’s staff had smart, articulate individuals who were loyal to each other.
In the Bartlet White House, the staff gave the feeling that they were one big, sometimes dysfunctional family that worked together and mourned together and celebrated their triumphs together.
The only other members of Fudge’s staff explicitly mentioned are Dolores Umbridge and Percy Weasley. Shortly after Percy started working for Fudge, he encouraged Ron to end his friendship with Harry. What type of person does that make Fudge, hiring someone who doesn’t see the value in friendships that involved saving each other in multiple near-death experiences?
As for Umbridge…
Reason 4: President Bartlet surrounded himself with strong, outspoken women.
The women in Bartlet’s personal and professional life were unafraid to call him out, and he valued their insight and used it in his presidency.
Umbridge never questioned Fudge’s decisions and even contemplated using the Cruciatus Curse on a minor. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement in Fudge’s favor.
Reason 5: Jed Bartlet was eloquent (and elegant).
President Bartlet made these statements after a bombing at a college swim meet:
Here’s how Fudge acts at Harry’s hearing:
‘I – that – not – ‘ blustered Fudge, fiddling with the papers…” (OotP 148)
Reason 6: President Bartlet could handle a crisis.
In the series, he stopped a shutdown, started peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and oversaw the relief efforts of several large scale disasters, including a nuclear power plant explosion.
Fudge refused to admit Voldemort’s return to avoid problems. And he deflected blame from many of the events that happened while he was in office toward other people, such as blaming the mass Azkaban breakout on Sirius Black.
Reason 7: Jed Bartlet was a polyglot.
Bartlet could speak multiple languages. He was especially adept at ancient languages like Latin.
At the Quidditch World Cup, Fudge did not even bother to discern if the foreign dignitaries could speak English (some of them could). He simply relied on Mr. Crouch to interpret for him.
Reason 8: Bartlet campaigned honestly.
He answered questions like why he didn’t vote for legislation that lined the pockets of dairy businesses (because he didn’t want to raise the price of milk). Bartlet decided to tell the public about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis because he wanted to be a transparent president.
Fudge allowed Death Eaters to line his pockets. By his putting them into his Ministry, the Death Eaters were able to use these positions as stepping stones to higher offices once Pius Thicknesse was in charge (looking at you, Mulicber and Yaxley).
Reason 9: As president, Bartlet championed underdog causes.
This started with an event called Big Block of Cheese Day. It was a day when White House officials invited groups who normally don’t get the ear of the President to come and discuss their concerns. This even inspired the Obama Administration to have their own version!
Fudge is never seen trying to reach out to people about what their problems are, perhaps because he’s too busy trying to save his own face – like when he threw Hagrid into Azkaban without any sort of trial because he needed to be seen as doing something.
Reason 10: Bartlet was much less of a megalomaniac.
Sure, Bartlet made comments about his office being the Oval Office, but he didn’t plaster his face on flags hanging all over the White House, unlike a certain Minster:
So in the immortal words of Bartlet, “What’s next?” If you live in America, go vote, because: