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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. 9th, 2017 04:11 am (UTC)
The bumper sticker on my car says it all: FU2016.
Frank Underwood is smart and calculating and willing to do what it takes to stay powerful, but I don't feel like he would sell out America like Trump.
Christopher Frazier
Jan. 9th, 2017 05:36 am (UTC)
Live Journal moving servers to Russia.
I love Russian people this isn't a slight on them. I cannot prove this 100% but some of the bigger names on Live Journal are afraid for their privacy and claiming live Journal is moving the servers to Russia. They don't know what rules the Russian government has with personal information.

Again no knock on the Russian people just their government.If try will this affect your use of live journal George?

Also, I am pretty sure if I created a fictional America where a president like Trump won and kept the personality the same.If I would have Submitted it years ago? Publishers would have called him a terrible villain and over the top even in fiction. They would have declined my manuscript.

Crazy how things work out. I admire how you speak your mind, George. I know many people who would just play it safe to not offend anyone. They are concerned with money and do not want to lose them as readers and dollar signs.

Jan. 9th, 2017 06:51 am (UTC)
Can I vote for the dead guy who beat John Ashcroft? If not, then Mr. Underwood who at the very least has his wits about him despite his megalomania.
Jan. 9th, 2017 07:54 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2017 09:53 am (UTC)
Trump is bad but Underwood is much worse. The sheer fact that he's more subtle and more palatable to most people who aren't paying much attention and so could get away with vastly more would be enough to tilt the scales, all other things being equal.

The unsubtle guy will probably either do something worthwhile or get booted. The phony will, like most of our actual presidents, be able to convince people he's doing something worthwhile despite not, and perpetuate a never-ending broken system until everything is beyond fixing.

The worst-case scenario of Trump where he manages to perpetuate the broken system himself is . . . no worse than the certainty of what you'd get with Underwood.

In other words, the Devil I know (Underwood) is sufficiently bad I'd roll with the Devil who will do who knows what (Trump)

Hartmann sounds substantially worse than either. Being substantially worse than Underwood is no mean feat.

Edited at 2017-01-09 10:05 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2017 10:24 am (UTC)
Frank Underwood of course
Jan. 9th, 2017 02:22 pm (UTC)
I would have voted for Frank Underwood, but I know he would be a second Bill Clinton (To be fair, the Clintons inspired the Underwoods).
And that's not a great thing. Bill Clinton deregulated Wall Street, signed a terrible Crime Bill that did a lot of harm to minorities, and abandoned the worker class by signing NAFTA (which was engineered by George H. W. Bush himself). All of this came back to bit the democrats in the ass.

So if Frank Underwood, either as Representant for South Carolina or as Vice-President, got elected on November 8th, I'm pretty sure 2020 would have been a fucking fallout. The Backlash would be double : the white-hot angry backlashers from the Tea Party would unite with the disgruntled workers from the Rust Belt behind a new Trump, but this time way more intelligent.

Underwood's projects are terrible. AmericaWorks is a horrible piece of legislation that would cut entitlements and promote precarious employment. The same has been tried in Germany and it's a disaster. I'm convinced he won't win reelection in Season 5. If he does, it will be thanks to an october surprise or something of its kind, I smell something with Conway's running mate.

Anyway, I would have voted for Underwood (though against him in the primaries) because he's still not as bad as Trump. Trump is, hands-down, the worst possible candidate, except maybe if Rush Limbaugh, Joe Arpaio or George Zimmermann somehow ran for President.
Jan. 9th, 2017 04:08 pm (UTC)
In terms of fictional universes I know, it's more like Tywin vs Joffrey. Joffrey is a temperamental spoilt brat who could destroy everything on a whim (his mother has similar tendencies); Tywin is a calculating, devious swine, but is intelligent enough not to screw things up for kicks.
Jan. 9th, 2017 05:37 pm (UTC)
I won't talk about Trump (I'm tired of real world politics) and I didn't watch House of Cards yet, so I'll talk only about Gregg Hartmann.

He is my favorite villain in Wild Cards. I liked Bloat too, but I didn't see Bloat as a villain. Gregg is that rare villain that is absolute evil, but also three-dimensional and never a caricature.

I also like him because he was never a daring genius of evil to arouse the reader's grudging admiration, like the Joker or Hannibal Lecter (all of them descended from Fantomas). No, there is something of the sad sack about Gregg. He is a coward with delusions of persecution, with receding hair and a pot belly. And also absolutely twisted.

And making him a Liberal politician was the touch of genius. Now, I'm a Liberal myself, and I suspect Stephen Leigh and most Wild Cards writers are Liberals, and as much as I love reading about dastardly Conservatives (like the Card Sharks conspiracy in later Wild Cards novels), there are way too many Conservative Presidential candidates as sinister villains in fiction. It was quite new to read about this guy that championed values I agree with as a cover, just to commit attrocities when no one is looking.

Congrats to Stephen Leigh for creating such an engaging character, and here is hoping that Gregg will appear in the TV series.

Edited at 2017-01-09 05:40 pm (UTC)
Erik Solomonson
Jan. 9th, 2017 07:01 pm (UTC)
Small-Folk For Underwood
My wife is from Nigeria. When we watch House of Cards together she understand's Underwood is a power hungry villain, but also understands that the price of his Villainy is beneficial legislation, which Nigerian politics does not even bother with at all.

She has a good point, so in the three way run for Evil Overlord I would vote for Underwood: He at least does 2/3 of his murders himself and as long as you are not a useful prostitute, reporter, alcoholic politician or severely wounded dog it seems its a pretty good bet you could just live your life as before.

Underwood in 2020: He Will Probably Leave The Small-Folk alone.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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