If there is a person who looks forward to President's Day more than I do, then I haven't found him, fought him, defeated him, and devoured his heart to gain his courage and presidential knowledge yet. I love presidents. Mostly I write about things that aren't presidents, because presidents are almost never timely, but for one glorious three-day weekend of partying and super sales every year, I can take off my chains and write an article about presidents, as is my destiny.
Since I've already covered our most badass presidents, our craziest president, our president who is most likely a mutant, and the weirdest sex lives of presidents, I thought it was time for some outside-the-box thinking. Since historians have already done a fairly thorough job ranking the best real presidents, it seemed to me that it was time some brave hero covered the best fictional ones. And since most historians refuse to do that, the burden falls to me.
#3. President Thomas Whitmore
President He Most Closely Resembles:
It's no coincidence that most of our greatest presidents (according to historians) also happened to be the presidents who were tasked with navigating America through extremely difficult times. Washington had the creation of the Union, Lincoln had the Civil War, FDR had a war and the Depression. There's no telling what kind of impact these presidents would have made had they presided over times of peace. They needed these catastrophes to thrust them into greatness, because it is whether or not a man flinches when faced with turmoil that determines his true strength.
Life is just choices, man.
The alien invasion in Independence Day was President Thomas Whitmore's Great Depression, Civil War, and World War II all rolled into one, and the man did not flinch.
Whitmore navigated us through a disaster of unprecedented magnitude, and he did it all while his wife was dying. The man was unflappable. He kept his cool because America would not be able to hold itself together if it didn't have a strong leader assuring the country that everything was going to be fine.
Still, even though he soared to greatness on the rockets of disaster, Whitmore is more James Madison than Lincoln or FDR. Madison was a peaceful man who didn't personally want to go to war in 1812 when the British Empire was still having a hard time accepting America's independence. He wanted to find a diplomatic solution with the British Empire, but when it became clear that no solution would be available, not only did he declare war, but he actually grabbed some guns and joined the effort, being the only person in history to take up arms and take a position on the battlefield while president. Does that sound familiar? Whitmore wanted to avoid all-out war with the aliens. He tried reasoning with them and showing them that humans were peaceful, but when it was clear that the aliens could not be reasoned with, he didn't waste a breath before declaring "Nuke 'em. Let's nuke the bastards." And when the opportunity presented itself, he hopped into a fighter jet and chased the aliens down himself. Kind of a stupid move (if you die, who becomes president? Goldblum?), but undeniably badass, all the same.
#2. President Super President
President He Most Closely Resembles:
James K. Polk
I've talked about my love of Super President -- the cartoon about a man who leads the country as President James Norcross by day and fights evil as the superpowered Super President by night -- before, but I think it warrants another glance, if only because it's about a president who is also a superhero.
Described by the show's creator as "the worst thing we've ever made," Super President as a show wasn't that great. But Super President as a character is incredible. He can fly and change shape and he has super strength, and while these are all great qualities for any president, it's not why I'd be thrilled to have him lead our nation someday. Norcross' ability to smile, attend press conferences, and negotiate treaties one minute coupled with his ability to go out there and get shit done the next is exactly the kind of skill I'm looking for in a presidential candidate.
Let's look at it like this. Bruce Wayne was a man who believed in the law until the law failed him and he needed to become the Night so he could pick up the pieces that the law broke. We like Batman, right? Good. James Norcross was a man who believed in the presidency until, we have to assume, it was clear that the presidency was failing him. Maybe he had an uncooperative Congress, or maybe the media was putting him under too much scrutiny. He still had a vision for America, so, reluctantly, he became Super President. As Super President, he could accomplish all that he couldn't as regular president. He knows what's best for America, and he's not going to let a bunch of sniveling Congressmen get in the way of that.
Originally aired in 1967. Based on the secret memoirs of Lyndon Johnson.
He's like James K. Polk. Polk, similarly, had a vision for America and wasn't going to let anyone stand in his way. Polk's the man responsible for getting America from sea to shining sea. Polk was the one who expanded America into California and fulfilled our Manifest Destiny. He said he was going to do it before he took office, he said he only needed one term to do it, and he pulled it off. How? Well, he probably cheated.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Polk illegally forced his way into California, which at the time belonged to Mexico. Polk claimed that Mexican forces crossed the border and spilled American blood on American soil, and he used this as total justification to go to war, despite the fact that more than a few Congressmen (among them Abraham Lincoln) believed that Polk's soldiers at best provoked the attack and at worst lied about it.
Polk's decision to go behind Congress' back and lie and possibly manipulate events to further his own agenda may not make him a great man, but a) it got us California and b) it at the very least makes him our most Super Presidentiest president. And isn't what Polk and Super President did kind of good? How many of you are frustrated when you hear President Obama or any previous modern president make a bunch of promises that he can't keep because of a stubborn Congress, or powerful lobbyists, or rich corporations, or anything under the banner of "politics as usual"? The world's a complicated place. What Polk and Super President did may not be right, but sometimes that's what you need. Sometimes you need the guy who is going to break some rules to fulfill his destiny. Sometimes you want a president who is willing to say, "Fuck Congress, I'm going to fight some space monsters, because someone has to."
Sorry, bureaucracy, it's time for actual results.