An introduction is in order. First, though, a personal TV hero (are those allowed?) He’s perhaps a familiar face to those who watch The West Wing, a show about the President of the United States and the support in place to maintain this branch of government.

Meet Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director. From season 3, a passing remark on the location of his office: “Exactly 63 feet from the Oval Office. If you think we don’t measure it, you’re out of your mind.”

A friend and I fact-checked this against American Government. According to authors James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio,

The arrangement of offices-their size, and especially their proximity to the president’s Oval Office- is a good measure of the relative influence of the people in them.

To an outsider, the amount of jockeying among the top staff for access to the president may seem comical or even perverse.

I’d be willing to bet the Obama staff have office distances memorized too.

The staff attaches enormous significance to whose office is closest to the president’s, who can see him on a daily as opposed to a weekly basis, who can get an appointment with the president and who cannot…

I think it’s all in the memo delivery. Maybe the secretary of the treasury believes in free trade. If s/he writes a memo and it can go directly to the president, Wilson and DiIulio argue

..the president may be more likely to support free trade (low tariffs.)

For some reason it’s fun to think of the human filter that precedes the president.

Now to me. I’m new here, so- Hi! I’m Lisa, a UBC alumna, BSc.

Credit to Wilson, J.Q.; DiIulio, J.J. (2004.) American Government. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Thanks also to for Toby’s quote, thereby sparing me the need to search for it myself..

Related Topics