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Three Reasons Why the Worst Job on '24' Is President of the United States

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 12th 2010 9:00AM
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If you ask most people, the idea of being President of the United States is likely one of the best jobs ever. Every little kid is told if he or she works hard, some day they could be the Commander in Chief. And yet, if you have been watching the eight seasons of '24,' there is probably no worse career choice than running America while Jack Bauer is handling a CTU assignment. In fact, when you look back on the presidents who have inhabited the White House during Jack's tenure, being the most powerful world leader is a high-risk profession that's not for the faint of heart.

Unlike other television series that have taken viewers inside the Oval Office, '24' presents the president in crisis mode, so perhaps it's a bit unfair to compare. Still, if you had your choice, you'd rather be Jed Bartlett on 'The West Wing' than Wayne Palmer or any other '24' president. Here are three reasons why the worst job on '24' is President of the United States:

3. Political Future. Simply put, it's hard to imagine any president who survived a nuclear incident or terrorist scare like the folks on '24' being in good stead when it comes time for re-election. After all, while President Wayne Palmer was in office, Valencia, California was blown up by a nuclear bomb. If he hadn't been seriously injured by a bomb in a super-secret sub-chamber of the White House, would he have been a good candidate for a second term? Um, no.

And currently, President Allison Taylor has to be a lame duck considering that while she was in the Oval Office, the White House was attacked! Going back a little further, you also have the disgraced President Charles Logan. His political future was snuffed out when he was forced to resign. Like Richard Nixon. Logan may still be around -- he's going to be helping President Taylor in the next few episodes -- but he's never going to hold elected office again. As further proof, Vice President Hal Gardner, who became president when Logan resigned, presumably lost the general election to Wayne Palmer.

2. Assassination. On '24,' the presidency is an even more dangerous occupation than CTU agent. From the start, when Senator David Palmer was just running for the presidency, he was a target. During his term, there were other attempts on his life, and eventually, a sniper's rifle killed him. But that's not the lone incident of a '24' president being in harm's way.

President Keeler was on Air Force One when it went down, and it wasn't a plane crash. That was how the weasily Vice President Logan became the Commander in Chief. The attempt on his life, ironically, didn't come from a terrorist or an agitator. His crazy wife Martha stabbed him with a kitchen knife! As for President Taylor, her life was in jeopardy during the White House break in. Without the heroic actions of Bill Buchanan, she might have been killed.

1. Betrayal.
The idea that the President's inner circle is filled with loyal supporters who would give their lives for him or her doesn't seem to exist in the '24' universe. Even spouses cannot be trusted. Sherry Palmer was a snake in the grass, and Allison Taylor's husband Henry not only lied to her about his investigation of their son's death, but then sided with their daughter Olivia when she endangered the country and her mother's presidency.

Further betrayal comes in the form of nearly every Vice President on '24.' VP Hal Gardner was an ambitious twerp who convinced Logan to declare martial law and -- according to Martha -- tried to take credit for all of Charles' accomplishments. Wayne Palmer's VEEP, Noah Daniels, temporarily became president thanks to the 25th amendment, and while in power, undermined his president's wishes. Allison Taylor's VP refused to act when she was held hostage in the White House.

'24' presidents seem to be constantly subjected to second-guessing, power-hungry cabinet officers and military personnel. With support staff like them, who needs terrorist threats?!

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joe

how about
4) apparently you never sleep
5) you are involved in every god-damned decision that goes on at CTU, NSA, CIA, etc. I swear, every 15 minutes at CTU it's "get the President on the line!"

April 12 2010 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

Oh and I should've ended up comment with... worst job on 24? I don't think so. At least some of them have had the sweet release of death (or retirement). Not so for one Jack Bauer who has had EVERYTHING thrown at him.

April 12 2010 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

Fun article, but odd nonetheless. I'm sure the real President (and the others before him) has hundreds of difficult situations, decisions, and people he has to deal with daily. The public probably doesn't hear the sheer number of assassination and nuclear threats the White House/government/America receive daily.

Having said that, I get where you're coming from. Though I do have to point out two things you mentioned about President Taylor's reign. You'd think she'd be a lame duck president because the White House got attacked? I think it'd be the opposite with Americans rallying to the President who survived and persevered. And when you talked about betrayal, you oddly focused your ire on her husband as opposed to her daughter who actually betrayed her. Her husband didn't betray the president more he wanted to protect his children.

April 12 2010 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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