The US Treasury has redesigned, yet again, the $20 note
It looks, well, European
. And that's not good.
So if we're going to get all Euroweenie with our bills, let's go whole-hog and start using stylized Presidents on our bills, like the first cut of the Euro notes, which included non-existant
, but vaguely European
-looking domes, arches and such
We've got plenty of fictionalized Presidents to choose from (and I'm a big fan of fictionalized Presidents) whether its clueless John P. Wintergreen from Gershwin's "Of Thee I Sing
" ("We will run on a platform of... Love!") and his hapless VP Alexander Throttlebottom, or the forced aloofness of Donald Moffat's portrayal in Clear and Present Danger
, we've got the best and the worst of American aspiration and fear to choose from for our new, ahistorical scrip.
I encourage reader comment, but for starters, I propose:
For the new $100: President Douglass Dillman, as portrayed by James Earl Jones in the 1972 film "The Man"
- based on Irving Wallace's 1964 novel
, with a screenplay by Rod Serling, where the President Pro Tempore, African American Senator Douglass Dillman, ascends to the Presidency after the President and Speaker of the House (the Vice President being dead of a heart attack a few weeks earlier) die in the collapse of the Cathederal at Cologne (I think it was). Chaos insues. Douglass Dillman is impeached for malfeasance. President Dillman finds their lack of faith disturbing and crushes dissent, demanding to see the Ambassador. My kind of President.
For the new $50: President Jordan Lyman
. Fidel Castro claims history will absolve him, but that's the only
thing that could have absolved a President Jordan Lyman, the embattled President in John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May
(screenplay also by Rod Serling) with poll ratings almost as bad as Governor Gray Davis. A terrible President, who would have been purified by history only due to events not of his own making. And an excellent successor to Ulysses S. Grant.
For the new $20: President Merkin Muffey
(if you don't know who Merkin Murphy is, it is a useful exercise to look it up). Clueless. Whiney. Maybe corrupt. And he killed people by the acre-foot. Move over, President Jackson.
For the new $10: Alexander Hamilton, obviously not being a President, is a bit harder to replace. But apart from his own talents, folks like Hamilton since he alludes to all the Founding Fathers, federalist or otherwise. So for the $10, may I commend Henry Fonda's portrayal
of the (unnamed) President in 1979's sci-fi disaster flick Meteor
(and a better review here
). Here was a President overwhelmed by events and had his bacon saved by those folks around him, but he no doubt got the credit in the end. More's the point, however, is Meteor
in it, even people who should have known better: Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Sean Connery, Martin Landau. And with Henry Fonda's President (compare it to him in Fail Safe
and weep), we can allude to them all.
For the new $5: Sic Semper Tyrannus! Okay, I'm no freaky Lincoln hater but some of his behavior during the Civil War, while undoubtedly necessary, was... well... at times extra-judicial. So what better warning to future generations than the spectre of a computer taking over the world and the President forced to knuckle under? Gordon Pinsent
as the unnamed, Kennedy-esque President in 1970's The Forbin Project
has everything we need. First, he Pinsett -- especially in this movie -- looks like Jack Kennedy. And we could use a handsome fellow like that our our notes. Second, he's doing everything for good intentions -- let's make sure we don't start a nuclear war accidentally, so let's put all our weapons under the control of a benevolent, artificially intelligent computer -- and just for safe measure, when it turns out the Soviets have done the same thing ("There is Another!") and constructed Guardian to America's Colossus -- decides the best thing to do would be to have them link up. You know, so everyone gets along. Admittedly, our fictional President used a modem (110 bps audio job) to get everyone together and Lincoln, well, used the Army of the Potomac
Of course, I'm a big fan of the Forbin Project anyway -- not only is it a cool film, but it was filmed at one of my childhood haunts -- the Lawrence Hall of Science
but the Forbin Project was also name of the Berkeley, California-based BBS where I first climbed online way back in 1985.
For the new $1: President Richmond, as portrayed by Dabney Coleman in Disney's rubberneckingly awful "My Date with the President's Daughter
." Coleman's mug gets on the one since President Richmond was portrayed as (a) a Republican (b) family-friendly without being creepy and (c) neither (i) corrupt nor (ii) incompetent. This is no more than a once-in-a-century event, and certainly neither was George Washington. Plus, we'd get more Dabney Coleman. He's in everything else -- why not your pockets?