Americans vote today–or more to the point it is the “most important election in the world” decided really by a select group of American voters living in what is known as “swing states” and by something called an electoral college. If you’re wondering: no the popular vote doesn’t matter; only afterwards and purely for the legitimacy claims of whoever wins tonight. American elections are infamous for their shenanigans (especially by Republicans; remember Florida 2000 and watch Ohio and Florida closely tonight). Outside election monitors are barely allowed. And as for foreign policy–drones, renditions, etcetera and for all the bluster from the GOP about Benghazi (where’s that?)–it doesn’t matter. America’s political class (including Obama) believe they have a purpose to save the world, remember. That said, some people still don’t even know who the candidates are. Let’s hope they’re not Americans voters. As for us, some of us can vote, others can’t (we’re immigrants). But we’ll occasionally dip in on Twitter with good humor, music and snark. So while the networks fill dead air till about 10pm or so (basically they won’t have anything substantive to add until the results come in), here’s some classic “presidential” moments from the world of cinema, music and sports.
“The 40th President of the United States,” Richard Pryor:
And since some Americans (including well educated ones) still can’t get their head around the idea of a black president, what better thing to do than watch movies that celebrate that fact. This summer, “Film Comment” published an essay on all those films with black presidents in them. From the essay: Starting with the problematic “Rufus Jones for President” (1933, with a mammy-like Ethel Waters and a young Sammy Davis Jnr) to James Earl James in The Man (1972). The latter’s plotline is just short of absurd: Earl Jones becomes President after the incumbent is killed when a roof falls in at a German conference and the vice president suffers a stroke (dramatic yes). Then the 1990s brought us Tiny Lister as president (yes, Deebo from “Friday”) in “The Fifth Element” (1997), Morgan Freeman gave another speech in “Deep Impact” (1998), long before he played Mandela; and Ernie Hudson looks bulky and serious in “Stealth Fighter” (1999). In the 2000s, Chris Rock pretended to be president in “Head of State” (2003), Dennis Haysbert and DB Woodside played the president on TV (“24”), Lou Gossett Jnr was a Christian fundamentalist president (think George W Bush) who converts in “Left Behind” and then takes charge in “Solar Attack” (this is a franchise for Evangelicals). Terry Crews hamming it up in “Idiocracy” and Danny Glover (!) played the President in “2012.” Finally, there’s “The Avengers” (2012) in which Samuel L Jackson plays a kind of Obama. The “Film Comment” essay includes this line, which may apply to Obama:
In the dream life [i.e. Hollywood], a black man becomes America’s president only once civilization is doomed or life as we know it has come to an end.
That said, the last word goes to The G.O.A.T. Muhammed Ali interviewed on the British TV talk show, “Parkinson’s”back in 1971. Ali responds to a question about whether he would like to be President of the United States.