Lister showing off his acting range by demonstrating the hard-to-pull-off facial expression denoting "I am about to poop myself."
How He Fucked Up
When a noted expert who you yourself called in to advise you in a troubling situation tells you maybe, just maybe, it's not such a good idea to provoke the massive, ancient blob of universe-devouring evil, you might want to listen. Just sayin'.
"Mr. President, we have common sense on the line, any interest in listening?"
Why He'd Never Get Re-Elected
To his credit, Lister does a great job of portraying the way a cross-eyed former wrestler elected to public office might handle a difficult situation. When confronted with the strange phenomenon of a big ol' confusing thing that seems to be made of spreading darkness, President Lindberg calls in High Priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm) for a consult, hobbits being respected authorities on big balls of inky nothingness.
Cornelius tells Lindberg that the blackness is seriously bad juju and that the very last thing Lindberg should do is fuck with it. Lindberg thanks Cornelius for his frankness, and with his next breath gives the order to fuck with the blackness like it was going out of style.
Okay, so we totally get the concept of fearing what we don't understand. We get it, we really do. Strange things are scary, and we just want them go to away. Kind of like Alexis Arquette. However, at some point you have to stop and consider whether or not lashing out due to fear is a wise course of action, especially when what you're afraid of is the physical incarnation of the concept of evil (whoa, that's deep.) We're thinking that in that case, maybe it's not such a good idea to shoot first and ask questions later.
After screwing the pooch by ignoring the priest (who we'd like to remind you was present both as an advisor and as a freakin' expert on the phenomenon,) and launching an ill-fated attack on evil, the president does the only thing he can think of: he enlists a cab driver to save the universe. Because nothing makes us feel safer than knowing our lives are in the hands of someone like Judd Hirsch.
Okay, so it could have been worse.
What He Should Have Done Instead
What the hell is the point of having advisors if you're just going to ignore them and do what you want anyway? What's the point of having experts around to tell you what you should and shouldn't do, and how royally screwed you'd be if you don't listen to their counsel, if you're not planning on doing the actual listening?
While we fully understand how a president might feel safe putting his life in the hands of Bruce Willis, we find it shocking to believe that there was no one, let alone an entire tactical team with big futuristic weapons, who could be trusted to protect Milla Jovovich and her ridiculously annoying alien language.
Oh yeah, this has gotta work.
And another thing: if your only hope of saving the universe is a scantily clad and underfed alien, you may want to concoct a better plan than putting her on what amounts to a glorified Carnival Cruise with your heroic cabbie. What is this, Scooby-Doo?
Along with hoping that our leaders will tell us that everything is okay in the face of a crisis, we also hope that they'll be reasonable and use logic and, maybe, oh, "foresight." We hope that whatever their decision, they don't rush into it, and they've fully thought through all of the potential consequences. Especially when they're thinking about whether or not they want to detonate a nuke on American soil.
Why He'd Never Get Re-Elected
Aliens sure can be a nuisance, and if Independence Day taught us anything, they have a knack for trying to ruin beloved American holidays. When they're not preventing us from getting drunk at a barbeque, they're trying to take over our planet and destroy us all. On the bright side, at least there weren't any anal probes.
With the majority of the world's major cities completely destroyed within 36 hours, President Thomas Whitmore did the only thing he can think of: he nuked the shit out of Houston, presumably because he figured the quicker our cities were annihilated, the sooner the aliens would leave.
While the aliens were eventually defeated thanks to the quick thinking of DJ Jazzy Jeff Goldblum and the fists of fury of the Fresh Prince, we find it hard to believe the American public would forgive Whitmore for launching a nuclear attack on one of his own cities. And even if the voters were able to look past the initial destruction caused by Whitmore, we have a tough time believing they would have been able to ignore the years of fallout and the ensuing slew of mutants soon to be roaming around Houston. You know, like Yao Ming.
Aliens just don't understand.
What He Should Have Done Instead
For one thing, he could have waited more than a day to choose the most extreme solution possible. While the aliens posed one hell of a threat to our continued existence, Whitmore chose to act brashly and basically do their job for them, thus expediting their goal of conquering Earth. In an effort to cover his ass with a heroic act, Whitmore chose to hop in a fighter jet and fight the aliens himself, wasting his missiles and ultimately using a drunk crop duster pilot to take down one of the alien ships.
It's also hard to ignore that within hours of his rash decision making that resulted in the destruction of a major American city a brilliant plan was hatched that would ultimately defeat the space invaders. Granted, it was a plan that hinged on whether the aliens had updated their Norton Anti-Virus software, but that doesn't change the fact that waiting more than a couple hours before blowing the shit out of Houston might have been a smart move.
Malcolm Says: "Norton Anti-Virus actually gave a computer I had a few years ago some hideous form of computer super-AIDS. The aliens might have been smarter than you think."
In the end, the biggest change Whitmore should have made was to simply sit down and chill for a second rather than rushing to conclusions and making spur of the moment decisions. Realistically, Whitmore should have realized that moving from city to city with only a handful of ships was probably going to take awhile, so making the quickest possible decision no matter how irresponsible or dangerous, might not have been the smartest idea. We can only assume that Whitmore just wanted to make sure to get this whole thing over as quickly as possible, so as not to ruin Labor Day too.
Check out more from Jeff and Malcom at The Last Gaffe.