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Friday, October 31, 2008

Hail to the Hollywood Chief

Presidential speeches and quotes are supposed to be memorable. Some are inspiring, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” , impassioned, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”, and in times like today, reassuring, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But there are those that end up being silly and laughable. Instead of being regarded as historical in nature, they are more less pop culture footnotes, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”, “I am not a crook!”, or “I did not have sex with that woman.” With the current administration there aren't enough posts in the world to cover all of the goofy stuff W has said. Thank The Flying Spaghetti Monster that we have Fictional Hollywood Presidents to provide us with moving and uplifting speeches. So, I give you the best Presidential quotes from Hollywood.

First we'll start off with the comedic. A Commander in Chief should have a sense of humor.
President Tug Benson (Lloyd Bridges) Hot Shots: Part Deux (1991)

It seems like only yesterday I was strafing so many of your homes. Here I am today, begging you not to make such good cars.

Some Presidents assume the title of Commander in Chief with the desire to fix the economy or strengthen foreign relations. Others find themselves with the bigger task of rebuilding civilization after a rogue comet hits the Earth. Don’t you wish a candidate had a plan for this kind of disaster in their campaign.

President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman) Deep Impact (1998)

We watched as the bombs shattered the second comet into a million pieces of ice and rocks that burned harmlessly in our atmosphere, and lit up the sky for an hour. Still, we were left with the devastation of the first. The waters reached as far inland as the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. It washed away farms and towns, forests and skyscrapers, but the water receded. The wave hit Europe and Africa, too. Millions were lost, countless more left homeless, but the waters receded. Cities fall, but they are rebuilt. And heroes die, but they are remembered. We honor them with every brick we lay, with every field we sow, with every child we comfort and then teach to rejoice in what we have been regiven. Our planet, our home. So now, let us begin.

Sometimes a President must own up to a mistake or at least take the blame for something because in the end, the buck stops there.

President Bill Mitchell aka Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) Dave (1993)

I forgot that I was hired to do a job for you and that it was just a temp job at that. I forgot that I had two hundred and fifty million people who were paying me to make their lives a little better and I didn't live up to my part of the bargain. See, there are certain things you should expect from a President. I ought to care more about you than I do about me... I ought to care more about what's right than I do about what's popular... I ought to be willing to give this whole thing up for something I believe in... Because if I'm not... Then I don't belong here in the first place...

President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) The American President (1995)

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.

For the record: Yes, I am a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U. But the more important question is why aren't you, Bob? This is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the questions. Why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for president, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, then, folks, you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a couple of minutes ago.

Everybody knows American isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free, then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest." Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

I've known Bob Rumson for years. I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it. Nobody has ever won an election by talking about what I was just talking about. This is a country made up of people with hard jobs that they're terrified of losing. The roots of freedom are of little or no interest to them at the moment. We are a nation afraid to go out at night. We're a society that has assigned low priority to education and has looked the other way while our public schools have been decimated.

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: Making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and personal character. Then you have an old photo of the President's girlfriend. You scream about patriotism and you tell them she's to blame for their lot in life, you go on television and you call her a whore. Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through law school, prosecute criminals for five years, represent the interests of public school teachers for two years, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources.

You want a character debate? Fine, but you better stick with me, 'cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league. I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well that ends right now. Tomorrow morning the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It's White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming.

The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today it no longer exists. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans that I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns. We've got serious problems, and we need serious men, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious men, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name's Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President.

Inspiring people to believe in your cause is essential to winning a Presidential election. But you can’t only talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. Perhaps Aaron Sorkin, or at least the writers of The West Wing were psychics because they created a President that was modeled after a young charismatic senator that is only 271 electoral votes from being the first minority ever elected President. He made a speech at the Democratic Convention that inspired them to model Matt Santos on him and look how history turned out.

Presidential Nominee Matt Santos (Jimmy Smitts) The West Wing "2162 Votes" (2005)

You know I’d been hoping to stand here tonight under very different circumstances, and I have been asked by people that I respect to take this opportunity to support one of the other fine candidates who have made this race with me, to help decide who our nominee will be. But I can’t do that. I can’t do that because it’s not my place to decide who our nominee should be. That decision is yours and yours alone. Now there has been a great deal made about Governor Baker’s decision not to disclose his wife’s minor medical condition. Many people believe that he should have. But I don’t believe Governor Baker failed to disclose it because he was ashamed or embarrassed. I think he didn’t disclose it because we’re the hypocrites, not the Bakers; because we’re all broken, every single one of us, and yet we pretend that we’re not. We all live lives of imperfection and yet we cling to this fantasy that there’s this perfect life and that our leaders should embody it. But if we expect our leaders to live on some higher moral plain than the rest of us, well we’re just asking to be deceived. Now it’s been suggested to me this week that I should try to buy your support with jobs, and the promise of access. It’s been suggested to me that party unity is more important than your democratic rights as delegates. That’s right it’s not. And you have a decision to make. Don’t vote for us because you think we’re perfect. Don’t vote for us because of what we might be able to do for you only. Vote for the person who shares your ideals, your hopes, your dreams. Vote for the person who most embodies what you believe we need to keep our nation strong and free. And when you have done that, you can go back to Seattle, and Boston, to Miami, to Omaha, to Tulsa and Chicago, and Atlanta with your head held high, and say, “I am a member of the Democratic Party.”

Presidents must console the nation and perhaps the world during a tragedy.

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlett (Martin Sheen) The West Wing "20 Hours in America"II(2002)

...restoring abundance amid an economic shortfall, securing peace in a time of global conflict, sustaining hope in this winter of anxiety and fear. More than any time in recent history America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek, nor did we provoke, an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect, nor did we invite, a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive.

Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition, when, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire.

The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students, and our teachers, and our parents, and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we’ve measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.
This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) Independence Day (1996)

Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) Mars Attacks! (1996)

I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad.

And sometimes, the best ideas can be summed up in less than six words just before dispatching an evil doer.

The President (Donald Pleasance) Escape From New York (1981)

You're the Duke! A Number One!

President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) Air Force One (1997)

Get off my plane!

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