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Literary Characters As President: The Good & Bad

It’s Election Day! Which means you need to go vote if you live in the United States–that’s my public service announcement for the day.

And, so as not to offend my international audience, please insert “prime minister” or “king” or “emperor” in place of “president” in the title of today’s post if you would like.

With the presidential theme in mind, today’s post is simple: What characters from literature would make a good president or a bad president?

Obviously, a good president must be a strong leader–decisive, convicting, charismatic, articulate, and so on. He or she needs to be morally sound—although the definition of sound morals might vary.

So here’s who I propose would be excellent—and awful—presidential leaders:

The Good

Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings): With Gandalf as president, our defense budget would be zero. We wouldn’t need one. “Oh, North Korea, you’re building nukes? That’s cute. Now watch Gandalf turn your little bomb into a glass of orange juice. Here, Samwise, have a glass of orange juice with your second breakfast.”

Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird): This one’s easy. He’s an attorney, a good father, a man with morals and integrity who stands up for the downtrodden. Plus, his name is Atticus Finch. That’s like the power name of all power names. “Finch is a cinch!” “Don’t be a winch! Vote Finch!”

Scarlett O’ Hara (Gone With The Wind): If you think Hillary Clinton is tough, you should see Scarlett O’ Hara in office. She would be like a female bull running wild through a china store. And I don’t really know what that means. Point is, she’s emotional and manipulative and domineering. In other words, a great politician!

Swede Levov (American Pastoral): He’s a charismatic ex-athlete with family problems and a rebellious daughter. Isn’t all of that a prerequisite to running for office?

Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath): Sure, he killed a man and spent some time in jail. Sure, he’s got a vicious temper. But that boy loves his mama. And he even goes on the run and sacrifices himself so his family can survive. That’s servant leadership right there.

The Bad

Scarlett O’ Hara (Gone With The Wind): Wait a minute, wasn’t she in the list of possible good presidents too? Yeah, she was. What was I thinking? She’s Scarlett O Hara. What type of awful drapes would she put in the Oval Office? How many husbands would she run through during her four-year term? How many times would she say “fiddle dee dee!” during the State of the Union? That’s just unacceptable.

The Judge (Blood Meridian): He threw a freaking puppy over a bridge. Imagine his domestic policies: “You don’t like my 80% income tax? Off with your leg! Need health care for your amputated leg? Screw you!” Not only that, but our canine population would suffer greatly under The Judge’s rule. That said, I think we need a bald president at some point.

Voldemoort (Harry Potter): Obviously, if Voldemoort got elected, we’d all be living in some alternate reality where no one cares how ugly the president is. The problem with Voldemoort is that, as soon as he takes office, he would kill everyone ever. So he wouldn’t be the president of anything anymore because everyone would be dead.

Clyde Griffiths (An American Tragedy): Could there be a worse president than the murderer Clyde Griffiths? He’s a coward. He’s a liar. He’s a manipulative, smooth-talker. He’s a mooch. He’s stupid. He beats up women. And, oh yeah, he’s a murderer. This guy is one of the most miserable, pathetic characters in literature.

Jack Merridew (Lord of the Flies): First of all, he’s like 12. So there’s a problem right off the bat. Then, he’s absolutely obsessed with killing pigs. And he has a mean streak right up there with The Judge and Voldemoort. But, again, he’s 12. So as long as we have a Vice President who can beat him up, then we might be able to make it with Jack Merridew as commander in chief. Even though he’s 12.

Out of all 10 of these characters, I’d be totally up for Gandalf as president more than any of the others. He’s wise and honest and caring…and magical. He loves hobbits, and that’s such an important part of any domestic policy. He’d be such a great president, don’t you think?

What other characters from literature would make good or bad presidents?

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29 Comments Post a comment
  1. I take issue with The Judge falling on the negative side of your list. (You knew I would) Why do you think he’d turn his violent wrath on the good people of this country? Maybe he would ride across the Arabian sand and forever rid us of al Queda? Maybe his judgement would come down hard on partisans that have our country locked up? Can you imagine his speeches? Certainly killing one puppy is less of a crime than that committed by our current slate of politicians.

    The Judge for Prez!!!!

    Like

    November 6, 2012
    • Never. The Judge is just a psychopath. That puppy murder will haunt him forever.

      Like

      November 6, 2012
  2. I second the nomination for Gandalf for all the reasons stated above, and for fireworks! Yeah, anyone can make a wobbly star shape in the sky, but, BOOM, here’s 50 golden stars, 7 blazing red stripes, 6 brilliant white stripes waving in unison while being carried by a mythical dragon swooping over the crowd.

    Like

    November 6, 2012
  3. Hahahhahahahaha Scarlett O’Hara! Fiddle dee dee, indeed!

    Like

    November 6, 2012
  4. My vote for a good president might go to Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. (Can we count that as literature?) He was successfully able to balance both sides of a very strong opposition, though it cost him his life in the end. And he didn’t put up with much nonsense. Sticking with the fantasy genre, I don’t know about Gandalf; he didn’t seem to be much interested in politics. But Aragorn might have made a good president, and would always have Gandalf to give him advice if he needed it. Or maybe Dostoyevsky’s Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. He seemed to have few illusions as to the uses of power. As to the worst, perhaps Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye, or Harry Angstrom, the “Rabbit” from John Updike’s Rabbit trilogy. Neither fo these guys had much ability to handle conflict. Their response to trouble was to run away, either physically or mentally.

    Like

    November 6, 2012
    • I thought about Rabbit and Holden. Good calls. They would be terrible presidents because they’re pretty miserable as human beings.

      Like

      November 6, 2012
    • But was Snape too quiet for most of the time about his political point of view? So people opposed him even though he was for them. That could be a political issue.

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      November 6, 2012
      • Good point regarding Snape. Political figures who are good for their country are too often disparaged because they aren’t strident enough. Unless they can present an acceptable appearance, they’re deeds go unnoticed.

        Like

        November 7, 2012
        • Which is what happened with Snape exactly. He saved Harry from falling off his broomstick, but it looked like he made him fall. And so on. . .

          If Snape was a little more open or more willing to play to the popular vote, he might do a great job. After all, he is tough, no nonsense, and on the side of good, not evil.

          Like

          November 7, 2012
  5. Good = The Father in The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Makes tough decisions.
    Bad = Claude Sawtelle in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Davide Wroblewski. Mean and prone to quick decisions.

    Good = Claudius in I, Claudius by Robert Graves. Often times the weak in appearance get overlooked.
    Aslan = Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Lions aren’t human

    Like

    November 6, 2012
    • And people are allergic to cats. Should we be allergic to our president?

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      November 6, 2012
      • Well, this morning, I’m sure some people would say yes.

        Like

        November 7, 2012
      • If the president is a cat, and one is allergic to cats, then, yes, logic would suggest you should be allergic to the president. I’m sure Aslan was a write-in at one time or another, so we may yet find out!

        Like

        November 7, 2012
        • You never know! I think I’d prefer not to take allergy meds though if I was going to see the president speak! 🙂

          Like

          November 7, 2012
  6. Well, Robinson Crusoe was very good with the economy and job creation (for Friday). Bad: Ahab, long before the Judge, and in keeping with your reading, Widmerpool.

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    November 6, 2012
    • Widmerpool…awful president. I could see him actually running too.

      Like

      November 6, 2012
  7. Good- Jean Valjean. Elinor Dashwood. Minerva McGonagall.

    Gandalf does seem like a strong candidate, though I’d worry a bit about his tendency to disappear for long periods of time and show up only at the last minute.

    Like

    November 6, 2012
    • Haha. Yeah, Gandalf’s wanderings probably wouldn’t sit too well with voters.

      Like

      November 6, 2012
  8. I’m with biblioglobal on Gandalf–although maybe LESS public exposure to the President day after day after day after… wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But then, who would be his Veep? Aragorn? He’s got accepting-responsibility issues. None of the elves–they beat feet for the Gray Havens. Wait! Got it! Samwise Gamgee! Loyal. Courageous when he needs to be. Uh…no…no: couldn’t see over the podium. Dang. This is hard. 😉

    Like

    November 6, 2012
  9. I’d love to see Scarlett as politician! I wouldn’t care how many husbands she will have as long as she shows herself a good mother (and she was not an uncaring mom to her children anyway)

    Like

    November 6, 2012
  10. I just have to say that I LOVE this conversation! It’s one of the most interesting I have read recently on a blog!

    Bad = President Snow from The Hunger Games and the invisible man from The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (since he likes to go around and murder people because he can). Also bad, any character from Gone Girl. They are messed up!

    Good = Hermione since she’s so smart and thoughtful, but only when she’s an adult.

    Like

    November 6, 2012
    • Ohhh!! I was going to say Hermione too. I like her!!

      Like

      November 6, 2012
    • Love the Hermione pick. She’s very organized and on top of things. A little stubborn, though? Wondering if she might be too partisan?

      Like

      November 7, 2012
      • She might be. . .but I would think she would also be able to look at the facts and make some good decisions based on those.

        Like

        November 7, 2012
        • Yep, I’ll cast my vote for Hermione, too. But the job may be too burdensome for an adolescent. May have to wait a few years.

          Like

          November 7, 2012
          • I totally agree! Not a child Hermione, but the woman she would probably grow into!

            Like

            November 7, 2012
  11. ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE!

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  12. Reblogged this on universoart.

    Like

    December 2, 2012

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