Like batshit-crazy swallows returning to Capistrano, Republican presidential hopefuls have descended upon Ames, IA to kick off the 2012 election in earnest. Every election cycle produces a crop of contenders, pretenders, and spoilers, and following the horse race has become as beloved an American pasttime as baseball and lamenting our inevitable decline.
But this blog is dedicated to a different source of that decline: television. Since every election needs a few indelible characters, where better to find them than the ranks of TV? Below, a short sampling of characters who would make terrific presidential candidates.*
*NOTE: I do not say these characters would make terrific presidents. In fact, with one obvious exception, almost all of them would be terrible. The standards for a good president and an entertaining candidate are very different. For instance, Coach Eric Taylor would be an unflinchingly awesome leader, but a dreadful politician.
**SECOND NOTE: TV politicians are disqualified. No fair pitting these neophytes against a Jed Bartlet or a Laura Roslin.
Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Already a dedicated civil servant, everyone’s favorite assistant Parks Department director knows how to read people, build community support, and work the media – and she understands the value of a well-timed tiny horse.
Running mate: Sadly, Ron Swanson would never subject himself to indignities of an election. Tom Haverford, on the other hand, would leap at the chance to hold a VP job that bestows a private plane and few real responsibilities.
Sam Malone, Cheers
A charismatic former athlete, recovering alcoholic, and (sometimes) successful small business owner makes for one hell of an appealing candidate narrative. And with a new tawdry sex scandal coming to light every week, he’d be more fun than Bill Clinton and Gary Hart combined.
Running mate: Transplanted Hoosier Woodrow Boyd, to win those crucial Midwestern swing states.
Shawn Spencer, Psych
On the one hand, he’s probably much too lazy for the rigors of a campaign. On the other hand, he’d relish the chance to snow thousands of people at a time with his manically improvised stump speeches, and to disarm debate opponents by observing something incriminating about their cufflinks.
Running mate: Burton Guster, though he would be naturally be introduced to voters by a different, ever-more-ludicrous pseudonym at every campaign stop.
Roger Sterling, Mad Men
A slick, sleazy glad-hander of the first order, with a news-cycle-friendly knack for delivering glib sound bites. Bonus: his candidacy might singlehandedly bring three-piece suits back to prominence.
Running mate: Joan Holloway. Not only would it make Roger look far more enlightened than he really is, Joan’s the rare individual who might be able to keep his worse impulses in check...at least through, say, the South Carolina primaries.
Cordelia Chase, Buffy The Vamprie Slayer and Angel
Is there any more fundamental requirement for a presidential candidate then unflappable narcissism? Cordelia never met a situation she couldn’t make herself the center of, from an impending apocalypse to a more run-of-the-mill mid-season demon hunt. And like most successful candidates, she’s learned from an earlier electoral defeat in the great Sunnydale High homecoming queen race of ‘98.
Running mate: Harmony Kendall. Knows the importance of hierarchy, generally won’t dare to upstage Cordelia. Caveat: may create headaches late in the race when the media accuses her of “going vamp.”
Jimmy James, NewsRadio
Running mate: Dave Nelson seems obvious, but he makes more sense in the campaign manager role. Jimmy would either try to enlist a C-list celebrity, or recruit Matthew both to represent the voice of the “common man” and to serve as a buffer against assassination attempts.
Walter White, Breaking Bad
Okay, you’d have to overlook one or two skeletons in his closet. Beyond that, Walt has a few traits that would render him a mighty effective politician. Besides his impressively malleable moral code, he’s grown quite proficient at rationalizing and internalizing self-preserving lies. And when it comes to evading responsibility, he can deploy the “mistakes were made” passive voice with the best of ‘em.
Running mate: Who do you think, bitch?
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