It’s U.S. election day.
So who will it be: The Lady or the Tramp?
While we wait, let’s fantasize about a better world.
Here are 10 of the most compelling U.S. Presidents ever to appear on the big and small screen — try to imagine how any of them would fare in this election:
You won’t see tough guy President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) letting secret service men rush him away from people with signs. When the president and his family are nabbed by Russian villains on his plane, Air Force One, he fights back. And wins. Nobody could defeat a president who has Glenn Close as his VP and Wendy Crewson as his wife.
Especially if he moonlights as Han Solo.
Kevin Kline is President Bill Mitchell, a skirt-chasing boor and Trump act-a-like. Dave Kovic (also Kevin Kline) is his stand-in, a ringer who takes on the dull lunches and charity meetings the President would rather skip. When the real President goes into a coma, Dave finds himself stuck playing POTUS, but he ends up making the country better. Dave is sweet and thoughtful; he couldn’t beat Trump or Clinton or anybody in any political race ever.
PRESIDENT BECK — DEEP IMPACT (1998)
If the end of the world was coming via killer comet, wouldn’t you want Morgan Freeman to be in charge?
Freeman has played figures of power — including God — in dozens of movies, and as President Beck in Deep Impact his wisdom, courage and capacity for hope lead an entire nation out of crisis. His nurturing leadership is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s quiet strength; the only role for a blowhard like Donald Trump in all this would be to play the meteor that’s supposed to destroy the earth. But fails.
Secret Service applicant John Cale (Channing Tatum) is on hand when terrorists attack Washington and attempt to kidnap President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). But the president is no lightweight, and he and Cale make a great team against the villains. The only thing better than Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx running, fighting and wisecracking together would be if Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden had somehow been on the same ticket.
Bill Pullman plays the president in this science fiction thriller. When aliens attack the earth he unites the whole world against the invaders by working with an African American ace pilot (Will Smith) and a brilliant Jewish scientist (Jeff Goldblum) — just the sort of people one particular Republican presidential candidate would shun and disparage. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Probably not.
PRESIDENT JED BARTLET – THE WEST WING (1999 – 2006)
Martin Sheen played popular Democratic president Jed Bartlet, a man of intellect, education, strong faith and many other good qualities, including that paternal nature. The character has been described often as the perfect leader; if Martin Sheen were in this particular presidential race, people would probably elect him over the other two candidates based on the popularity of the show. And on their own inability to tell TV from real life, but that’s another issue.
PRESIDENT JACKSON EVANS — THE CONTENDER (2000)
Jeff Bridges is awesome in the role of an ideal President who is much smarter than people think. He chooses a woman (Joan Allen) to be Vice-President; this is a terrific film about the fear and jealousy aimed at women who get ahead. Gary Oldman plays a dirty-minded Republican who stirs up scandal (e-mails?!) on the Vice Presidential candidate to try to keep her out of office.
THE PRESIDENT — FAIL SAFE (1964)
War isn’t what it used to be.
This Cold War classic has the President (Henry Fonda) desperately trying to stop bombers sent in error to nuke Moscow. On the phone from his bunker, the President has to try to stop the bombers any way he can — even by working with the so-called enemy. As the tension escalates and the President keeps his cool, you wonder how a guy with a comb-over would handle the situation.
PRESIDENT WILLIAM ALAN MOORE — BIG GAME (2014)
Samuel L. Jackson plays the president in this big action-adventure movie about a Finnish teenager (Onni Tommila) who rescues the world leader when his aircraft crashes in a remote part of the country. President William Moore is brave, smart and funny, so, yeah — pretty much exactly what the American people had and totally undervalued for the last eight years.
PRESIDENT SELINA MEYER — VEEP (2012 – 2016)
Continuity with Change: who could resist that campaign slogan?
Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is the foul-mouthed, egotistical boss lady of Washington, the Wicket Witch of the West Wing and probably the funniest person on TV. Every president should get such writers. To quote Selina,
“I’ve met some people, real people, and a lot of them are stupid f——g idiots,” a sentiment we can all share even as we hope it doesn’t get confirmed