A number of strong and dignified African American actors have played presidents over the years on both the small and big screen, warming the general American electorate for the day in which an African American would actually become the nation's first elected African American president.
One of the strongest of the screen presidential performances was by actor Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer in FOX's 24, as a highly principled man who carried his office with real authority and great dignity, and perhaps one of the strongest screen portrayals by any actor ever of a fictional president ever. Dennis Haysbert seems to have so much self-confidence and authority any time that he speaks that it would not be all that hard to imagine him actually becoming president some day.
He has a great voice and just carries lots of screen charisma and was a great role model for a screen portrayal of an African American president. FOX could not have found a stronger actor for the president's role in 24. Haysbert is a real natural in any acting challenge and a born leader.
In DEEP IMPACT, the great veteran actor Morgan Freeman might have played the role of a president under intense pressure as the world faced an asteroid impact with an embattled nature. But it was the concern of a pensive and wise president who was deeply upset of the looming loss of life from the asteroid disaster. Morgan Freeman is a great national treasure as an actor, and he carries so much weight to any role in which he acts.
In the french science fiction film, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, former wrestler Tom Lister, Jr. turned in a fine performance as President Lindberg who sought to protect the world from disaster by a collision from the Black Planet. It was a pretty strong performance by an unlikely actor who played a president in fairly credible fashion.
In the Irving Wallace authored, THE MAN, African American Vice President Douglas Dillman ascends to the presidency after the death of the traditional White president, but confronts a largely racist U.S. The great actor James Earl Jones, who has one of the best voices in all of film history plays this role with his usual great skills. However this role was hardly the more relaxed racial tensions role of later African American fictional presidents and is a far more dated example of the past nature of racial tensions in the U.S. THE MAN was written in the era when books such as HOW TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD were a subject of much discussion and racial tensions and segregation still plagued the U.S.
Some top leaders like General Colin Powell who became Secretary Of State as well as Dr. Condoleezza Rice who is the current Secretary Of State also strongly helped many Americans to accept the notion of an African American actually becoming president. Both top government officials have gained so much cross-party respect from voters that they both no doubt also helped to pave the way for a strong African American candidate to be seen as a credible choice for president despite a real shortage of African American senators and governors currently in office.
Far beyond race, Senator Barack Obama is a political phenomenon who not only won election to the senate by a landslide, and quickly was viewed as rising presidential material by a growing number of voters who were drawn to his charisma, intelligence and leadership abilities. But during the three debates with long-time Senator John McCain, Obama proved a cool calmness and presidential abilities and grasp of the issues just as strong as any screen president ever, Black or White, where Obama is being judged by most voters on his strengths he brings to the presidency and not his skin color.
Barack Obama has all of the traits required to be a great president in the same vein of charisma like a John Kennedy, and a return to Camelot. And it looks likely that a strong majority of voters want such a return to hope, and Barack Obama may well be on the verge of playing the greatest role of a president by an African American ever.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!