Hail to the (fictional) chief!
An ode to President David Palmer
President Barack Obama has now passed his first full 100 days in office. I’d therefore like to believe that talk of political, historical and racial differences has, for the most part, died down. After all, we the American people have more pressing things to worry about than the ethnic evaluation of our commander in chief.
Still somehow I keep feeling we’ve forgotten to celebrate an unsung hero here. There’s one man who, I think, deserves a little more credit for the trails he’s blazed for present and future Obamas everywhere.
That man is … President David Palmer.
Played from 2001 to 2006 by character actor Dennis Haysbert (who currently serves as the recognizable spokesperson for Allstate Insurance and star of CBS’ The Unit), some have said that the David Palmer character on Fox’s 24 has served as the show’s second-most prominent protagonist, after the infamous rogue government agent, Jack Bauer, played by American dream machine/notable drunkard Kiefer Sutherland.
Although the show has received public scrutiny for Bauer’s methods of extracting information from potential terrorists by means of torture (not to mention his choice in women), the President David Palmer character was a refreshing, if not cautious, approach to introducing the concept of an African-American holding the ultimate position of political power.
The similarities that stem from the fictional character to our national leader are eerily uncanny. For example, like President Obama, Palmer first came into political play as a senator. The idea of an African-American senator of Massachusetts running for the most awesome of jobs was incredibly controversial when first introduced in January 2002.
But after a while, having a black man, Palmer, in a position of ultimate power wasn’t a big deal. I like to think it was the way he communicated with the charisma and charm. Our President Palmer showed a debonair ferocity against the increasingly diverse forms of modern terrorism. He successfully managed his time between family and national obligation, and approached leadership with an overall sense of badassery. This sounds an awful lot like someone we know.
In other ways, President Palmer was a man ahead of his time. Initiating current trends in Obama-like communications, fans can still add President Palmer to their Facebook page, MySpace account and even Twitter updates. This seems strange, seeing as how President Palmer was tragically assassinated by his arch-nemesis, Vice President Charles Logan (played by Gregory Itzin) in May 2006. But maybe President Palmer is just that unstoppable.
Yes, America’s first “real” black president, David Palmer, helped paved the way. He showed courage in the face of terrorist threats and still had time to give his evil ex-wife Sherry the smackdown when she eventually started to plot against him. Don’t worry, Michelle is entirely too fashionable for that. Hail to the (fictional) chief!