Friday 7 July 2017

Worse Than We Imagined

Most fictional Presidents are better than Trump, even the really bad ones.

It's not hard to find noble and inspiring fictional Presidents. They may be wise and sagacious leaders (The West Wing); steely-eyed crisis managers (Deep Impact, Tom Clancy novels); or even kick-ass action heroes (Air Force One, White House Down, Independence Day). This is to be expected; the office of President attracts a certain amount of reverence, and stories need heroes.

The White House.
Source: Adrian Grey / Flickr

What interests me is that even the mediocre to bad Presidents are better than Trump. Finding specimens who are unequivocally worse takes some effort, even though he's only been in office for six months.

Here is my arbitrary top five of each:

 Better Than Trump (Slightly)

  1. Frank Underwood, House of Cards (2013-). He's a scheming murderer devoid of moral principles, but reasonably competent at the duties of POTUS.
  2. Nixon's head in a jar, Futurama (1999-2013). He was crazy, vengeful, and demolished half the White House when he acquired a gargantuan cyborg body; but he conducted diplomacy with the brain planet and fought off invasion by the naked scammer aliens.
  3. Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove (1964). The world ended on his watch, but he resolved an international crisis by cool-headed diplomacy, and it would have worked if not for one dedicated bomber crew. (That's a spoiler, but the film is 53 years old, so too bad.)
  4. James Dale, Mars Attacks! (1996). He failed to stop the Martians, but did his best to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis, before they stabbed him with a flagpole.
  5. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demolition Man (1993). In the clean and prosperous future of this film, he gets an offhand mention as a previous POTUS.  Considering his record as Governor of California, we could do a lot worse.

Worse Than Trump (Maybe)

  1. Greg Stillson, The Dead Zone (novel 1979, film 1983). Intentionally started a nuclear war with the USSR, because he thought it was God's will. Trump is loathsome, but I credit him with some notion of self-preservation. (Incidentally, I love the fact that Martin Sheen played the President in both The Dead Zone and The West Wing.)
  2. Kang, The Simpsons (1989-). A bug-eyed, tentacled alien dripping with slime, who enslaves the human race. More destructive than Trump, but arguably less ugly.
  3. Gary Callahan, Transmetropolitan (comic 1997-2002). Hired prostitutes and murdered them to cover it up. Attempted to murder critical journalists. Trump doesn't seem to be this bad (yet).
  4. Unnamed POTUS, Canadian Bacon (1995). Declaring war on Canada did not end well for him.
  5. Unnamed POTUS, Monsters vs Aliens (2009). Can't remember which button launches all nuclear weapons, and which one gets him a latte. Accidentally presses the wrong one during the closing credits, and presumably destroys the world. I'm not sure about this example, because if the buttons existed, Trump would have pressed the wrong one some time ago.

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