Monday, March 14, 2011

Jefferson vs. Allen

Thomas Jefferson
3rd President of the United States
Served: 1801-09
Ages Served: 57-65

PROS: Unpredictability — When Jefferson took office in 1801, the country was still in its infancy. Well, maybe not infancy; nearing tweenhood. Whatever, it was young. The western border was the Mississippi River. On the other side of the river was France Spain France. Access to the port of New Orleans, which was at the mouth of the river, was vital to the economic health of the western United States, but that was closed to U.S. trade in 1802.

Jefferson decided to talk to the French Emperor about striking a deal. This is pretty much how that deal went:
Napoleon: I’ll tell you what, I’m short on cash fighting these several wars I’m fighting. I’ll sell you France’s entire claim west of the United States.

Jefferson: Cool. But, uhh, look. I don’t exactly have the authority to make such a land purchase. Let me push an appropriate amendment through Congress, go through the proper constitutional channels and then we can strike a deal.

Napoleon: Ooh, you know, England was talking about buying it.
(French guy behind him snickers at this lie, Napoleon shushes him.)
If they make an offer, I can’t really say no.

Jefferson: Okay, I’ll buy it.
Jefferson, who was all about following every letter of the U.S. Constitution, was willing to let things slide when it came to doubling the nation's land area for a cool $15 million.

Now he had a 828,800-square-mile territory to organize and no money to do it with. What’s a quick way of getting money?

How about taxing these new residents that was just acquired? You know, the ones who have no representation.

Yep. Jefferson argued against England imposing taxation without representation against the colonies. Less than three decades later, he became president of this land that revolted such actions and went on to tax the unrepresented.

Dude’s unpredictable. He’s a loose cannon and he’s completely willing to sell out his deeply-held beliefs if he feels he needs to. If that doesn’t make a warrior of the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, I don’t know what does.

First Triple Crown Winner — Before Jefferson was president, he served as George Washington's secretary of state and as John Adams' vice president. Three presidential administrations and he had one of the top three roles in each.

(Well, top three on paper. The vice presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm piss, according to 32nd Vice Present John Nance Garner.)

After his presidency, there was nothing left for him to do: until now. Jefferson wants to win in the arena.

CONS: Writer, not a fighter — Jefferson has no combat experience. He never gained much of a reputation for being a bruiser, mainly because he wasn't one. He depended on his writing to do his battles.

He gained such a reputation as a writer that the Second Continental Congress asked him to write the first draft explaining why the American colonies should stop being American colonies and start being an independent nation. Long story short, it worked.

Probably Blythe Danner's best role in which she plays a slave owner.

Things may have been slow-going at first, but once it was written, we were as good as independent (one bloody war later).

If bouts were decided by written essays, Jefferson's prose would send him straight to the finals — assuming he didn't argue for the closing of the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. If that was the case, the place would probably close down by Wednesday.

However, written word doesn't advance you. Fighting does, and he has very little history of that.

Lover, not a fighter — Jefferson had a reputation for liking the ladies. And ladies loved cool Jefferson. (It could be argued that he was the original LL Cool J, only one of them had a part in the movie Toys. Guess which one!)

In all actuality, he was devoted to his wife until she died in 1782. He mourned his wife for years. But then he started fathering children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. Now, apparently, this sort of thing — widowers taking slaves as concubines — was the norm. In fact, Hemings herself was Jefferson's half-sister-in-law; which is to say that Jefferson's wife's father fathered Sally Hemings.

I'm sorry. I'd like to think that I have an open mind. And I'm from the 21st century, which means I'm theoretically more progressive (for example, the idea of owning slaves sickens me), but this shit is weird.

This "slave as a concubine" thing brings up a valid point, though. Jefferson is old-fashioned. This means he may have a problem hitting a (non-slave) woman.

MacKenzie Allen
Fictional President of the United States played by Geena Davis
Served: In the 2005 TV series Commander in Chief
Age: Davis was 48 when the series aired

PROS: Independent, both politically and personally — Prior to her ascendancy to the presidency, Allen spent two terms in Congress as an Independent, where she frequently clashed with the Republican Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton. She kept her Independent status when asked to join the ticket of Teddy Bridges, the Republican nominee for president, and again when she became president after Bridges' death. This is someone with a serious commitment to independence. This came in mighty handy once she was president, as nearly everyone connected with her administration was out to get her. She had to wade through a number of treacherous situations, mostly orchestrated by the aforementioned Templeton. You can't help but think that self-reliance will serve her well in the arena.

If you can handle a Cabinet meeting where everyone present is rooting for you to fail,
you can handle the arena.

Hawkish — Allen seemingly never met a situation that the military couldn't solve. In fact, one of the first things she did after President Bridges became incapacitated was to juggle the 6th Fleet around for various reasons. Soon after that, she decided it was high time to apply some pressure on Nigeria to release a woman who was about to be executed for adultery. And by "apply some pressure," we mean "send in the Marines." And the coup de grace? She sent a squadron of Air Force jets, as well as a squadron of tanker planes filled with defoliants, to the not-at-all-made-up country of San Pasquale. Stated goal: wipe out their coca fields. Actual goal: incite a coup. Because it always works so well to have the U.S. overthrowing the governments of Latin American countries.


Fortunately, most of her military maneuvers seem to work. Good luck with that newly-elected government, San Pasquale!

CONS: A bit impetuous — So, Allen spends most of her time in the pilot episode of "Commander in Chief" being talked into resigning the Vice Presidency so that Templeton can become president, the main reasons being a) Templeton is power-hungry and b) a woman president?!? Am I right, fellas?


So, Allen has her speechwriter draft a resignation speech. But just before she's going to deliver said speech, she has a one-on-one meeting with Templeton, who starts strong with a rather good menopause joke (am I right, fellas?!?) before managing to shoot his damn mouth off on one of Allen's most dear subjects (the woman in Nigeria we mentioned earlier). Right then and there, Allen decides "fuck it," and marches off to take the Oath of Office. So, wait — you knew this guy was an asshole, and you were fine with him becoming president, but now all of a sudden, you're changing your mind? What's that about? It's not like this would be a big decision, or anything.

Talks about her plans a bit too much — So, I've touched on this Nigerian situation a bit, but let's go back to it one last time. Before she calls in the Marines, Allen gets the Nigerian ambassador into the White House, and basically marches him straight to the situation room, where all the military brass has assembled. She has them explain the entire plan to the Nigerian ambassador. You know, the guy representing the country they were about to invade. That's, um, maybe not the best idea? Now, yes, the United States military probably has superior firepower when viewed against Nigeria, but you know what helps out a lot when you're outgunned? Knowing exactly when and where the enemy is going to strike. Maybe she thought she could keep the Nigerian Ambassador in custody for a while? I'm pretty sure that would create vastly more problems than it would solve.

Fortunately, his reaction is to stand and do this, instead of, you know, taking notes.

Allen later repeats this mistake in the San Pasquale incident, going on national TV to say "hey, by the way, we got these planes coming." Now, yes, in this case, the military objective was not as important as the social objective, but still, there's a pretty good chance that crap's going to bite you in the ass eventually.

The Fight
Tony: So, having reached the bottom of the Jackson bracket, we come to the matchup which, if this were a fully-seeded tournament, would pit the 2-seed (Jefferson) against the 15-seed (Allen). In such matchups, the 15-seed tends to be quite the underdog (think Duke vs. your local high school), but I'll tell you, I don't think Allen is at that much of a disadvantage.

Let's look at the facts: she's younger than her opponent, which gives her a definite edge. She's also in fantastic shape. How does she keep said shape? Turns out, Allen is a rower. Rowing tends to keep one in fairly good condition — see the Winklevii from The Social Network, or from real life...

Allen is no exception. Add in the advantage of being around in the 21st century, and she's probably superior to Jefferson, physically. But will Jefferson realize that? He's probably just going to spot that Allen is a woman, and then he'll try to turn on his charm. His defenses will lower. He'll underestimate Allen. And what happens when you underestimate MacKenzie Allen? You get flattened. Just ask General Sanchez, the dictator of San Pasquale. Oh, wait, you can't. Because he was deposed. And then probably either killed or turned over to the U.S. to stand trial for murder. Bam!

Doug: Does Allen love her country?

Tony: Of course she does! She loves it enough that she becomes president almost solely to ensure some über-conservative asshole doesn't take power. If defending your country from über-conservative assholes isn't love of country, I don't know what is!

Doug: That was more of a rhetorical question. I'm not asking in an accusatory way, like in a "she's a fascist socialist from some weird country" sort of way. Of course she does. She probably doesn't have a magnetic ribbon on the presidential limo, but she's down with apple pie, free speech and John Philip Sousa medleys set to firework shows.

Thomas Jefferson evokes visceral feelings of patriotism and American pride. I would imagine that anyone who loves this country would not be okay with hitting him. The man's Thomas Jefferson, for crying out loud! I'm not saying Allen will curl up in a ball and just let Jefferson win. No, he would probably get a few shots on Allen before she decides to back away from her stance on not wailing on any of the Founding Fathers, but it might be too late by then. By that point that Jefferson just needs to finish her off.

Tony: I think this all depends on who Allen sees when she peers across the arena to size up he opponent. Does she see Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father or Thomas Jefferson, Slave Rapist? If it's the former, maybe Jefferson has a shot. If it's the latter, there's going to be a lot of rage involved, and that rage is going to make any consternation over the legality of the Louisiana Purchase look like a PTA meeting.

Doug: Now, now. Jefferson wasn't a slave rapist. He just had a sex slave. They're both morally repugnant, but c'mon, there's a difference.

Tony: Look, I don't want to get all Laws of Consent up in here, but I'm fairly certain that owning a sex slave, by definition, makes you a slave rapist.

Doug: Hmm, I think technically, there are minute differences. Not that I'm defending sex slavery. Or slave rape. This is all besides the point. Back to Allen and her over-exposition.

While Allen is explaining to Jefferson where she'll be delivering the hits, Jefferson will just do so — even if the constitution doesn't directly give him the authority to do so.

And as an inventor, Jefferson could probably come up with brilliant new ways of smacking around opponents.

Tony: Jefferson may be able to get past the vagaries of his Constitutional authority, but not after doing some heavy thinking about it. I say Allen has him good and bloodied before he finally takes action.

Doug: Jefferson likes to do some heavy thinking, true, he likes to mull things over. But if there's some sort of hurry involved (ex: Napoleon lying about the former mother country being interested in moving in next door) Jefferson acts. Anybody living between Louisiana and Montana have him to thank him for that. Only this time, instead of him worrying about England, he's got a rower coming after him. And how did a woman get in anyway? They can't even vote!

Yeah, so Jefferson feels threatened and confused about the whole female president thing. That's when Allen learns one truth to be self-evident: Jefferson will take care of her much like a stray dog took care of Barbara Maitland from Beetlejuice.

SPOILER ALERT: She and Jack Donaghy were essentially killed by a small dog

Polls close Friday at 9 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Remember, voting is the cornerstone of democracy. Jefferson would want you to vote, even if it wasn't for him.

Jefferson vs. Allen


  1. I wouldn't be here speaking (writing?) English if it weren't for Jefferson. Admit it. We'd be speaking French. Spanish. French. German. Something other than English, anyway.

  2. Jefferson was pretty varied in his knowledge. Who's to say he didn't learn a little cage fighting on one of his world-hopping trips? Plus, He was pals with Benji Frank who also knew a lot about a lot. I imagine Jefferson would train "Rocky II" style: that is, chasing a chicken with BF-as-Mickey teaching him to eat thunder and crap lightning.

  3. Here's the thing, ya'll. No diss against Jefferson. I agree we wouldn't be speaking English without him and that he'd be a good dude to know. Especially if one had to write a history report about the American Revolution. But this isn't about who is cool, or who you'd like to take Bill and Ted's phone booth back in time to hang out with. This is about who would WIN IN A FIGHT TO THE DEATH. And when our illustrious blogmasters basically say outright that Jefferson had zero fighting experience or ability, why is he currently far in the lead in terms of votes? People, let's be adult here and vote on the issues, and make this something beyond a popularity contest. Or beyond, you know, real politics.

  4. I'm commenting to awkwardly shoehorn in the fact that I am an alumnus of Jefferson Middle School. Go, Jefferson Jets!