Saturday, September 01, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 1

It’s time for a new season of Football Counter-Programming: that time of year when I make weekly attempts to distract you from endless social media posts about football with something else of my choosing. 

This week--inspired by a discussion I had at lunch on Friday--I’m asking:

Who is your favorite fictional president?

A few bits of explanation. I want you to focus on actors or actresses who have portrayed a fictional president. That means completely made-up characters who served as the vessels of all that we think is good and right about our American democracy. That does not include actors who have portrayed actual presidents in movies based on historical events. So . . . that eliminates performances such as John Travolta's barely hidden characterization of Bill Clinton in Primary Colors. And it also means that no matter how much you liked Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (in the imaginatively named movie Lincoln), he’s not considered here. 

I’ll give you my top five. Leave a comment arguing for your favorite that I left out. You can search on the Internet for all kinds of lists giving you information and videos and plot summaries of each of these men--and even some women!

But first--an Honorable Mention that I just have to include--

Charlie Sheen's portrayal of President Rathcock in the movie Machete Kills-not because I like Charlie Sheen, or because I’ve seen the movie, or even because I have any idea what Sheen is like as a fictional present, I just like the idea of a president Rathcock--something that would absolutely never happen in actual American politics.

Number Five

How about Morgan Freeman as President Beck in the movie Deep Impact. Definitely a fictional president shaped by catastrophe--as so many fake presidents are. But when the moment arrived, President Beck took advantage of good speech writers and he delivered that inspirational speech that the nation needed to hear. Unfortunately what they heard was that only some select few would survive the asteroid strike in deep caves. But President Beck was honest and forthright about his religious faith in a televised address. That is a plus in my book and something most politicians won’t do in real life.

Number Four

Julia Louis Dreyfus' character Selina Meyer (Veep) is best known for being the almost-president. But she was president briefly on the show, so she gets good consideration here.

Number Three

Harrison Ford is definitely one of the choices. As ridiculous as he is showing President James Marshall fending terrorists off of Air Force One, it’s not as ridiculous as President Camacho in Idiocracy--who is not under consideration, because I haven’t seen that movie and I think that the 2016 election proved that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Number Two 

It might surprise you that I didn't pick Bill Pullman's Independence Day president Thomas Whitmore as the greatest fictional American president. "President Whitmore" may certainly be the greatest presidential orator in any American movie not about Lincoln, however. Whitmore's inspired speech gave courage to the world, enabling everyone to fight against alien invasion. Then he participated in the jet fighter attack against the alien ship. And, finally he convinced a drunk and down-on-his luck Randy Quaid to sacrifice himself for the good of all mankind. That's a presidential trifecta!

Number One

My favorite fictional president is Kevin Kline's Dave Kovic in the movie Dave. Sure, he is technically just a presidential impersonator who is asked to fill in for a comatose President Bill Mitchell (also portrayed by Kline). But Dave has a good, well-meaning heart and after he gets over his misgivings (and starts falling for Sigourney Weaver as a confused and sad First Lady, President Dave is every bit as inspirational as President Bartlett in the NBC show the West Wing. (And since I don't like most of Aaron Sorkin and just want to be contrary and reject Barlett's praise, I go the other way.) Love live President Dave! And long live Dave Kovic who wriggles out of multiple counts of fraud and (probably?) treason to eventually convince the acting Vice President to champion a needed jobs program. Then Dave decides to run for local office--which is how we should all commit to as citizens of this fine country.

So--that's it for this week. Stop watching football and go take a walk.

And, please . . . remember this. It doesn't matter if your starting defense decides to kneel during the national anthem. It was never about the flag anyway.

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