Q of the Week: Who's Your Favorite Political Character?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This week, we asked readers of the Politics & Politics Daily to share their favorite characters from political movies and TV. Here are some of our favorite responses:

Neel Lahiri’s pick was Selina Meyer from the TV show Veep, a character “who epitomizes the kind of farcical, utterly vain, and insatiably power-hungry [politician] that the electorate despises.”

From reader Christina Kopp:

My favorite political figure on TV is Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. When faced with the annihilation of the human race, she doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in. Ah, only on TV!

Terry Nugent picked Bill McKay from the film The Candidate, “an elegant chronicle of the withering effect of electioneering on ethics.” (Speaking of Bill, another reader analyzed him and his ethical evolution as part of our “Political Theater” series earlier this year.)

Kennedy Avery suggested Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bartlet in The West Wing:

I like how Josh is brash, compassionate, and humorous all at once. Plus, when it comes to his work and policy positions, he is unapologetic and determined.

Joan Conroy also had a West Wing-themed response:

The first one who came to mind was Toby Ziegler, played by Richard Schiff. As the sad, often morose, but brilliant liberal speech writer he refused to compromise his ideals. Nor was he seduced by power and money, as far too many are in the current political climate.

And Deb Bell wrote:

My favorite character is Chauncey Gardner, from the 1979 film Being There. It’s the story of a mentally challenged gardener whose simple-minded utterances and complete ignorance of government, diplomacy, and the outside world as a whole are mistaken for wisdom and bold thought, propelling him toward political superstardom.