Monday, February 28, 2011

Kang vs. Buchanan

Elected President of the United States in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror VII
Voiced by Harry Shearer
Age: Who knows?

PROS: Years of observing humans — For many Treehouse of Horror episodes, Kang and his sister, Kodos, are seen watching Earthlings from their craft in outer space and often comment on how puny we are.

They even know how to get elected president. They kidnap the two 1996 presidential nominees and walk the Earth as them. Even when Homer exposes them as aliens, Kang and Kodos know Americans will vote for them or throw their votes away on a third-party candidate.

Ross Perot has no chance against aliens, even though the
U.S. Constitution disqualifies them from becoming president.

Kang knows human behavior a little too well, which means he probably knows how to fight one.

Not Human — Kang's got a decent size advantage over any human combatant.

He also has about five or six prehensile tentacles. His limb count outnumbers any human.

CONS: Not Human — Who knows how long Kang could survive without his space helmet? Kang and Kodos were able to go on without them when they were posing as Clinton and Dole, but they still needed to occasionally exchange long protein strings.

And if you can think of a simpler way of doing so, they'd like to hear it.

Whatever it is that is in the Earth's atmosphere that kills Rigelians, will do so quicker once his heart — or whatever — gets going.

He retreats easily — True, in the end of Citizen Kang, he and his race had enslaved humanity, but that was only after being democratically elected.

You honor our intricate electoral system and your first order of business is
human enslavement?
Uh, 13th Amendment, guys. Not cool.

But in Treehouse of Horror II, when Lisa wished for world peace, all weapons were banned. Kang and Kodos easily waltzed in and took over. However, the moment Moe Szyslak got the idea of chasing the aliens away wielding a board with a nail in it, Kang and Kodos got out of there immediately. Alien invasion over.

I guess the difference is that in the this instance, they didn't first get the will of the electorate.

A board with a nail in it wouldn't be allowed in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, but as weapons go, it's not very menacing. You could probably get the same reaction after a few well-placed punches.

James Buchanan
15th President of the United States
Served: 1857-1861
Ages during term: 65-69

Pros: Diplomatic — Prior to taking the presidency, Buchanan served as ambassador to Russia — well, they called him the Minister to Russia, for some reason — and later as Secretary of State. In the latter capacity, he negotiated a little thing called the Oregon Treaty, which established the northern boundary between the United States and Canada at the 49th parallel. On the other hand, he also served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, during which time he helped draft something called the Ostend Manifesto, which argued that the U.S. should "acquire" Cuba through whatever means necessary. This went over about as well as a literate person at a Tea Party rally. So, kind of a mixed career, there.

Persistence — Buchanan's academic career (prior to all that political crap) had a slight hiccup when he was expelled from Dickinson College for "bad behavior." However, he managed to successfully plead for reinstatement, and he ended up graduating with honors. So, it was kind of a "bad boy makes good" situation. And who doesn't love a "bad boy makes good" situation?


Could not get off the damn fence — Seriously. About anything. Take the War of 1812. Buchanan opposed it... until the British were attacking Baltimore, at which point he gallantly managed to get off his ass and join the volunteers defending the city.

When the election of 1856 rolled around, Buchanan never officially said he would run for the Democratic nomination, but he never exactly told people not to nominate him. As president, he didn't want slavery expanded, but he did precisely jack-squat to stop it being implemented in Kansas.

And the best worst most ultimate example? He believed that secession from the Union was illegal... but he also thought that going to war to preserve the Union was also illegal. Thanks to this logical logjam, the Confederate States of America were formed after Buchanan's successor, one Abraham Lincoln, was elected. Buchanan? Called for a constitutional convention in response. That's bold leadership, right there.

Somewhat divisive — All of that wishy-washy crap meant that Buchanan constantly lacked supporters. Northern Democrats suspected him of wanting to expand slavery. Southern Democrats suspected him of wanting to abolish slavery. The party ended up imploding. Okay, granted, this led to Lincoln's election, so it was kind of good, but still. Look, when you're so divisive that, when you ask* Congress to give you the power to draw up militias to defend federal property from the Confederate States of America, and Congress says "no"? Maybe you're not the right person for the job. Just saying.

*You might wonder how we're squaring this request against the "well, he didn't do anything to stop secession" argument we put forward earlier. What happened was that after the South seceded, Buchanan re-arranged his Cabinet to root out any Southern sympathizers. His new Cabinet surveyed the situation and said "Uh, you might want to do something about this, boss." By then, though, it was too late.

Way to go, Buchanan. Way to go.

The Fight

Doug: Let me start off by saying that I've always considered myself to be staunchly against slavery. That being said, I think Kang's approach to slavery is preferable in this case, as it would serve him better in the ring. The very last scene of Citizen Kang shows that by Inauguration Day, humanity is enslaved and working on a ray gun pointing at some unknown planet. It's not the stance on slavery that I agree with, but at least we know exactly where Kang stands on the issue.

James Buchanan, on the other hand, who knows? He said he didn't want slavery expanded, but he didn't really stop it from expanding. Even his own party didn't know where he stood on the issue. It seems like he didn't even know. He wasn't very good at making decisions, and this will hurt him. "Should I punch Kang in his gigantic eye a few times and blind him, or should I try to disable some of his tentacles first? Oh, I don't know. Let's just see what happens."

C'mon, Old Buck. You're fighting a giant alien. Take some initiative.

Tony: Look, Buchanan may have sat on the fence so long, it became permanently affixed between his cheeks, but you know what? At least he could breathe the freaking air in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. You just can't overlook that advantage. His indecision isn't going to count for much while Kang is writhing around in agony. Kang's only chance here is that, while his limbs are flailing, he manages to knock Buchanan over, and then Buchanan can't decide whether to get up or not. But even then, Kang still can't breathe. BIG ADVANTAGE: Buchanan.

Doug: Do you have any idea how exhausting running a successful presidential campaign is? Kang did it without the use of a space suit breathing an alien planet's air. True, he occasionally needed to hold his sister's hand for some biological reasons, but while he was giving speeches and taking part in public debates, he was doing it while breathing pure Earth's atmosphere. If he can spend all that time making public appearances without Rigelian air, he can spend a few minutes to mop the floor with Buchanan without any kind of respiratory emergency.

Tony: Ah, but I'm willing to bet that his ability to do so was thanks to his (admittedly superior) Rigelian technology. He's not going to have that advantage when he gets to the arena! Nor will he have his sister around to feed him protein or whatever that kinky shit was about. No, it's just going to be an overwhelmed, unprepared alien, facing off against a man who has finally decided that today is the day for him to stand up and maybe possibly think about the potential of making a stand.

Doug: Whoa! Let's put the brakes on this train before it pulls into Shenanigans Station.

Tony: I'm sorry, this train does not serve Shenanigans Station, it rolls straight through to Truth Towne. Truth Towne! Population: Not You.

Doug: We don't know how he was able to breathe for so long while he was posing as a human. Of course you're willing to bet it's because of his superior Rigelian technology. It would be very convenient for you if we just jumped to that conclusion, wouldn't it?

It could be some technological advance, or it could be some organ in his body that acts a reserve — like a camel's hump, but for air — for when he's on the go sans space helmet. It's never explained, so you can't go assuming, because when you do, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "Ming" the Merciless, Flash Gordon's arch nemesis.

Wait — so when I conjecture about superior Rigelian technology, it's "convenient," but when you pull some magical air pouch out of your ass, it's reasonable? This does not compute. Look, we know the Rigelians have some sophisticated shit. But we've never heard anything about some reserve air organ. It's far, far more likely that technology is what's keeping Kang alive while he's campaigning for president. And that technology is destined to fail him when it's needed most.

Doug: I concede that Kang cannot survive indefinitely without some sort of help, but it's clear that he can survive long enough to kick Buchanan's wrinkly old ass. Wrinkly old ass? Yes, wrinkly old ass. You talk about how much of a scrapper he was during the War of 1812. However, like the name suggests, that was nearly a half-century before he entered the White House. Ancient history. And how much of a scrapper was he? I can't find anything saying he served with any kind of distinction. He volunteered, which is nothing to sneeze at, and that was it. It's not like he was fighting 10-foot-tall aliens.

Tony: Oh, of course his military action was long behind him by the time he got to the White House, but it was still military action in defense of his country! That's the sort of thing that stays with a man. In short, he wouldn't forget how to be a soldier before stepping into the arena. And when faced with as troubled an opponent as Kang—

THE CHIEF descends

Tony & Doug: The Chief!

The Chief: Oh, good, more well-reasoned bickering between the two of you. Look, it's clear that this week, you're asking the voters to make a simple choice: either Kang's survivability is based on unseen Rigelian tech, or on some undiscussed-but-natural physical function. If it's the former, then that tech will abandon Kang in the arena, and he will die. If it's the latter, Kang can most likely survive to the next round. Instead of the two of you going 'round and 'round on this for the next half-hour, let's just shut the two of you up and let our readers do what they're supposed to do: vote!

The polls are now open. They'll stay open until Friday, 9 a.m., MST. Until then, get your suffrage on and vote. Then get your pontification on and comment away on how you see this fight working out!

Kang vs. Buchanan


  1. With Kang's tentacles of fury, he's gonna be swappin' proteins with Buchanan's ass when he's made into a Japanese hentai.

  2. I like the cut of your jib, and your choice of commenting handle.

    I do not like thinking of James Buchanan in a hentai situation. Hmmm.

  3. As usual, I end up supporting the under dog. But here I blame our illustrious blogmasters. Because really, you use WILL SMITH as an example of "bad boy makes good?" This is not a reference to sway the vote, guys. What you need is to remind people of the awesomeness of Xena: Warrior Princess. Who is not a boy, but certainly depicts the "bad person makes good" to a far better extent.

    Though I think I've made an argument against myself already, because Xena also took an active role against slavery, made difficult decisions all the time (including killing people) and never sat on fences. Hung her smart leather bustier on a fence, maybe, but not sat on one herself.

    Look at this, my comment started pro-Buchanen and became pro-Kang. Statistically mediated by the real cause here: Pro-Xena.

  4. Evil (remains to be proven) TonyMarch 4, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    I am also Pro-Xena. I nominate Xena for a wild card arena round!