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Bad Presidents

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

But sometimes fiction can take truth and turn it up to eleven.

We all know how the recent presidential election turned out in the real world. Hilary Clinton won by three million votes, but Donald Trump is going to take office in a week and a half, thanks to the electoral college, James Comey, and some Russian hackers. I've seen a lot of Trump voters saying, yes, Trump was bad, but they thought Clinton was worse, so... lesser of two evils and all that. (FWIW, I don't think Hilary was evil, but even if we accept that premise, no way she was the lesser when up against the Pussygrabber-in-Chief).

I don't want to talk real world politics here, however. We've done a lot of that this past year, and we have four more years of it ahead of us.

Instead I want to expand the "choice of evils" template with a little thought experiment, and weigh Trump against some fictional presidents and presidential candidates.

So... if the recent presidential election had pitted Donald Trump against Francis Underwood (HOUSE OF CARDS) and Gregg Hartmann (WILD CARDS), who would you have voted for?

And if you don't know who Gregg Hartmann is... well, go check out our new Wild Cards website at http://www.wildcardsworld.com/ . Our plan is to keep the site fresh with blog posts every couple of weeks, and the first of those just went up: a rumination by Stephen Leigh on the long and storied career of Gregg Hartmann, aka Puppetman, whose saga lasted from the first volume of WILD CARDS all the way through volume fifteen.

Read it and enjoy, and post your choices here: Trump, Underwood, or Hartmann. With reasons.

NO off topic comments, please.

FWIW, Hartmann never did manage to achieve the White House in the Wild Cards universe. But Leo Barnett did, so I am not sure that's a total win...


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Jan. 8th, 2017 05:45 am (UTC)

Thanks for the reply! An asteroid wouldn't be the worst thing, maybe a select few of us will get some kind of super powers from it. It would be pretty cool if as you're stranded on your roof as the giant tidal waves the asteroid caused are about to be the end, suddenly a man flies down from the sky and takes you to safety. He shows how society is being rebuilt through the use of the other meta humans. Then he could ask how A Dream Of Spring is coming along.

All kidding aside, I still feel an update post would help both you and the fan base greatly. It seemed to me that the new years post last year definitely stopped the flow of requests on the status of the book, but I'm an outsider looking in when it comes to this.

That being said, I said I'd ask one and only once.

I really appreciate the response, and while I can't I say I hope the Giants win tomorrow, I hope its a good game either way. Too many blowouts this weekend, and because of some questionable calls they leave a bad taste in the mouth.



P.S I apologize for posting in this thread, but I didn't receive your response to my comment(http://grrm.livejournal.com/514373.html?page=2#comments) until after you had locked the thread. I didn't want to appear rude and as if I didn't deem to respond. If this is considered too offtopic please let me know and I will gladly delete it.
Itamar Widerker
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:26 am (UTC)
This comment section has disappointed me
Simply put, Hartmann is the best choice. A leader who is effective, and works on civil rights? Who appears to be a smart, moral guy? Whose works benefit a lot of people?

Sure, he's a serial killing evil asshat but nobody's perfect.
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:41 am (UTC)
F.U. 2016
Underwood no question, but here's why. Going off of Hannah Arendt's political theory, where the realm of politics is the relm of appearance. Frank takes the cake. He's like a faceless man in his appearance. He doesn't have an identity. He is what he wants us to see and he wants us to see. He wants the United States to see a president who is firm and carries himself with grace. There was actually a quote from the latest season of House of Cards which I loved, "the president is the people who work for him". I'm just as terrified, if not more, of the horrendous, but expected, choices Trump has made for his Cabinet. When you take away the cabinet, a major purpose of the President is how he appears to the rest of the world. At the very least Frank Underwood presents himself with a sense of professionalism and intellect that doesn't make us look like an international laughing stocks. He also did a much better job at keeping his crimes secret. What can I say, it's possible I've been seduced by the marvelous performance of Kevin Spacey.

Edited at 2017-01-08 06:45 am (UTC)
Shreya Kumar
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:42 am (UTC)
Underwood. (I do admit that I enjoy "House Of Cards" but I'll do my best to be objective)

Francis has a lot of experience as Chief Whip. That alone makes him a better candidate than Trump for the presidency in my book. He is also efficient, good at his job (politics is a lot about understanding people and the dynamics of power as I have learned from asoiaf) and covers his tracks well.

Trump has had more than his share of losses in business, he does not have any political experience whatsoever nor is he diplomatic.
Jan. 8th, 2017 07:33 am (UTC)
I would have voted for Underwood but...
for CLAIRE ;)
Jan. 8th, 2017 09:31 am (UTC)
Come on George, you should have balanced the game a little.

Yeah, Underwood and Hartmann are hypocritical, murderous, manipulative psychopaths, that could be forgiven, but the worst of all, they are Democrats :D

So Trump would get my vote if I was allowed to vote, but again, he is pitted here against fictional politician and super villain, so my right to vote isn't really the biggest hypothetical.
Jenn Fuller
Jan. 8th, 2017 09:48 am (UTC)
Frank Underwood. While he may have crossed a line or two to get the presidential title, Unlike trump, He actually wants the job, and he wants to be excellent at it.
(I know I didn't capitalize trump. I never do. The moron doesn't deserve capitalization.)
Marco De Sanctis
Jan. 8th, 2017 01:19 pm (UTC)
I vote for Stannis.
david anthony
Jan. 8th, 2017 01:54 pm (UTC)
Underwood is competent and would be a strong leader, but his 'America Works' scheme would be more dangerous and disastrous than any Trump policy: ending social security and re-appropriating the funds to create jobs. On the other hand, he'd be less likely to start a nuclear war. I'd probably have to pick Trump though, because Underwood is evil and competent enough to carry out his agenda, whilst trump is despicable, but also extremely incompetent and simple-minded, which would make it less likely for him to succeed in his terrifying agenda. Under Underwood, a lot of damage could be done. Under Trump, he'd probably just end up disappointing all his supporters and leaving in four years.
jeff hei
Jan. 8th, 2017 02:15 pm (UTC)
I would still vote trump, I also did not think Hillary was evil but I do think she was corrupt, and so I take a chance on trump
Sharon Sakach
Jan. 8th, 2017 03:19 pm (UTC)
Who to choose?
I submit another alternative, after watching the Crown halfway through. We go back to the monarchy. Whereupon, Queen Elizabeth or whoever is in charge says to Trump or FU guy or the Wild Card guy, off with your head!
Jan. 8th, 2017 03:26 pm (UTC)
Underwood. But what do I know, I'm a Russian, probably a hacker, we all are.
Jan. 8th, 2017 04:22 pm (UTC)
If we just knew them from their campaign and careers -- and not from the secret nastiness -- Underwood and Hartmann would both seem like objectively better candidates than Trump, simply on the basis of experience and popularity. Hartmann would probably seem more appealing than Underwood, but that's because I'm certain he would have shown a more liberal/progressive record in the senate than Underwood would have.

But if I knew Underwood was not only corrupt but murderous and Hartmann was a sadistic mind-controller with plenty of blood on his own hands, and Trump was the only other choice... well, I guess I'd hold my nose for Trump. Although given the choice I'd sooner pencil in a candidate or simply not vote.
Jan. 8th, 2017 04:26 pm (UTC)
Frank Underwood. I'll take ruthlessness over incompetence any day.
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:57 pm (UTC)
That guy seems so stupid.
I live in another country, but the media only talked about the elections in the United States during the last months.
I do not know the truth, I did not like either of them, but I repeat, I live in another country and the reality that comes here probably is not the one that lives there. (And works the same way backwards)
I just know that from the outside the situation seems as ridiculous as the elections in Argentina last year. I hate politicians, they do not bring anything good to the world.

The world lacks spiritual leaders, not politicians, entrepreneurs and other crap in search of power.

I would not vote for any of the three ..
Give me a good choice .. Stannis for President!
Jan. 8th, 2017 08:08 pm (UTC)
For anyone who is saying they would vote for Trump as the 'lesser evil' over Underwood or Hartmann, because hey, at least he doesn't murder people, I ask you to consider this Facebook post by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

His key argument: there is a level of politics which is mostly theater and a level of politics which is deadly serious, which he divides into Level A and Level B. Most of the things which come up in an election year and grab the public's attention are on the theater side of things: scandals and verbal slip-ups and recordings of the candidate saying embarrassing things. And this level can actually reach very far into the realm of things which genuinely are major indictments of character in any other context, even things which would land you in prison. Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy", for example, suggests he's a sex offender, but having a sex offender as President still doesn't meet the requirements to reach Level B.

What does reach the Level B is casually tossing out things like 'We'll need to see whether NATO countries have paid their bills before we honor our obligations to defend them.' Bragging about sexual assault shows you are a bad, unpleasant person. If it's demonstrated this is something you actually did, it should land you in a jail cell. But undermining confidence in the United States honoring its NATO obligations weakens the system guardrails that are protecting us from World War III and the potential extinction of our species.

As a reminder, both World Wars (and the Korean War, to boot) started because one actor was unclear just how far they could push things before other actors responded with military force. Muddying those waters, or having a leader who is unable to see where the line is drawn, is a really really bad thing.

A President who murders people personally? A President who uses his powers to make people commit all kinds of atrocious acts for sadistic thrills? If either are otherwise sane and informed, they're preferable to a President who leads us to a situation in which millions or billions could potentially die. Even if the last man mentioned is an otherwise decent person, with the consequences of his actions coming from him simply being in over his head.

That is why you vote for Underwood over Trump. That is why you vote for Hartmann over Trump.
Jan. 8th, 2017 09:03 pm (UTC)
The question you pose goes well beyond the usual Turd or Skunk Sandwich? and Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dumer? choices we are asked to make at the polls.

But all things considered, I must go with Underwood.
He's the evil I know best and am least uncomfortable with.
He would never be Putin's or anyone's bitch (except maybe Satan's).
And if anyone crosses him, he'll serve them their borscht made from their own blood.

Machiavellian has been used a lot to describe old Frank. And Machiavelli himself said that people only understand the extremes of cruelty or kindness, so no half-way measures. If one must be evil, then be big evil...don't intercourse around.

When it comes to evil, as with everything else, P-lect Pusssygrabber is an assclown, a Manhattan Mussolini wanna be.

But we endured and survived 8 long, nightmarish years or Cheney/W...we can surely do likewise for four (or less) of Trump.
I'm a optimistic pessimist:)

Jan. 8th, 2017 09:49 pm (UTC)
Underwood forever.
Jan. 8th, 2017 11:27 pm (UTC)
the right choice
Though not a selection here, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Frasor would be my choice. Perhaps only George here knows who he is.
Jan. 8th, 2017 11:59 pm (UTC)
I voted for Trump in November.
I'm not ashamed of it either -- despite how popular it is to try and shame people into political submission on social media nowadays. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically in the Silicon Valley). Even in this most blue of blue islands, between 25-33% of voters cast a vote for Trump.

Now, I didn't vote for some of the things that Trump said. I typically find that I don't completely agree with any politician or candidate. For me, it came down to policy issues and the ability to differentiate between the things that Trump actually said (some of which I disagreed with) and what the media interpreted him to have said.

Trump wasn't my first choice. He wasn't my second, third or even tenth choice. I can think of a number of candidates that would have won by vote if they were on the ballot. In fact, I was a Dr. Rand Paul man -- given that he appeals to my libertarian sensibilities. I simply felt that he was the best of the two remaining viable choices (and I don't believe in casting protest votes).

Now, my wife is an immigrant from Mexico. She comes from a large family that spent years as migrant farm workers. After years of work, she and the rest of her nine siblings have graduated from college with at least a bachelor's degree. Six of them earned post-graduated degrees. One recently graduated from Stanford. One is currently finishing grad school at Harvard. One is an architectural engineer. Another is working in medicine. Six of them work in education (e.g., counseling, administration and teaching).

My wife's entire family got behind Trump from the get-go. In fact, my father-in-law -- who doesn't speak English -- became a citizen recently and Trump was the first president that he had the opportunity to vote for. They believe that immigration issues are among the most important that this nation faces. They feel that illegal immigration cheapens what they have worked so hard for.

Trump is far from perfect and his biggest issue is the ability to put his foot in his mouth. Still, I disagree with Trump on mostly character flaws (just as I disagreed with Bill Clinton) but I disagreed with Hillary Clinton on policy issues (as well as character flaws). My dad spent a career in the military before starting a second career. He lost two jobs because of "globalism" and "free trade" -- in which his jobs (and production) were sent to China and Mexico.

Consequently, I would vote for Trump again in a hypothetical election over the prospect of Francis Underwood and Gregg Hartmann.

Of course, if George R. R. Martin was running, he'd have my vote! We may not agree on everything -- but I think that I know enough about him that he'd be a sensible philosopher president with just enough Machiavelli in him to speak softly but ride a big dragon. :-)
Jan. 9th, 2017 12:52 am (UTC)
I would probably go with Gregg. Even though he's a horrible person he would only torture individuals rather than endanger the civil rights of entire swathes of the population. And he would probably enact some good legislation in order to hide the monster inside.
Jan. 9th, 2017 12:58 am (UTC)
Underwood. I don't know anything about Hartmann/WildCards. Underwood at least 1) has an IQ above his belt size, 2) Is not a thin-skinned Twitter-holic and 3) Understands how Washington actually works. Oh, and he knows Russia is not our trustworthy friend. Definitely, Underwood.
Jan. 9th, 2017 02:00 am (UTC)
All I know is Abner Marsh and Sour Billy would have had a fight aboard the Fever Dream over HRC and Donald Trump. :-)
George Patramanis
Jan. 9th, 2017 02:58 am (UTC)
Gonna be a long and stressful 4 years. Hoping there's enough Game of Thrones to take my mind off it.
Jan. 9th, 2017 03:26 am (UTC)
When I was watching the last season of House of Cards, I realized that this show is the same kind of fantasy that catered to liberal Americans that we saw with The West Wing. While West Wing was the fantasy of a liberal president who is actually a liberal president and not a Democrat who won by going to the right in Reagan's America and who managed to pass several Republican plans (NAFTA, welfare reform, etc.) for a Republican base that didn't like him, House of Cards is the fantasy where we get a president in office who is going to steamroll over everyone and get things done because he knows where all the bodies are buried. And hell, his wife even gets to push Putin over the barrel.

We had a real liberal president with Obama but we got increasingly frustrated by how little he managed to achieve when he tried to work for consensus (of course the other side got frustrated by the fact that he was achieving his goals because for them he made Frank Underwood look like a boy scout).

I was actually just going to comment that my Make America Kittens Again Chrome app is working and all I see are kitten pictures. I think that's a pretty simple app since all you have to do is mention Trump and all the pictures change.
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