Assistant managing editor
A couple of years ago, while engrossed in the American television series “24” my doubts about the male domination within the nation’s highest office started to develop.
In the serial drama, which ended after its eighth season in 2010, Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer was my hero (at that time an innocent good-prevailing-over-evil believer in me materialized), taking the law into his own hands and enforcing his biblical version of “I, the Jury” and employing an “eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth” justice against villains that often get away with murder.
Among the presidents Bauer served, three stood out.
The most presidential among the trio was Allison Taylor or Madame President who remained cool as a cucumber even while taken hostage by African terrorists who attacked and seized the White House. After being smacked in the face, she succumbed to their demands and apologized live on television for acts of American imperialism, all for the safety of the people. Then, she rebounded and regained her suave leadership.
Taylor also proved to be a practicing moralist when she ditched a peace treaty with the Russians once learning that it was made possible through a sleight of hand by former President Charles Logan.
Madame President displayed a lot of similarities with Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Clinton’s soul mate and first lady, who made her bid to become the first U.S. woman president but conceded to be Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Secretary Clinton is not the first woman to hold that office for that honor belongs to Madeleine Albright, a Czech-American with a Jewish background who was a professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Compared with Taylor, David Palmer, the first black U.S. president in the “24” universe, was an OK head of state, his presidential performance perhaps outstripped by Dennis Haysbert, the actor who played the role but was better known for plugging State Farm insurance on television commercials, although I am not sure he still does.
Haysbert looked like the kind of person who could invoke sympathy and respect from other people but turned out to have weaknesses in his role as Palmer. In reality, alter ego Obama is now struggling as the first black U.S. president who is seeking a second term ― with a sense of detachment and lack of power to rally surrounding supporters.
Palmer was assassinated by a sniper, perhaps in a plot twist used as a tribute to the memory of Rev. King, leader of the nonviolent U.S. civil rights movement that made Abraham Lincoln’s declaration of emancipation a reality.
The third was Logan, the crook who Bauer called a “world-class liar.” Logan was the kind of guy that, as the cliché goes, everybody loves to hate. He was the vice president, who, according to the 25th Amendment, took over the executive branch after his president, John Keeler, was incapacitated.
He, however, believed in his way of justice that some connected to that of Richard Nixon who was forced to step down primarily for lying under oath about his involvement in the Watergate scandal.
Logan was thrown out of office after it was discovered that he supported terrorists secure oil supplies and tried to cover up his crimes by mobilizing state assets such as the military.
Why am I bringing up old memories? I know Keifer Sutherland, who played Bauer, is in a new series, “Touch,” (good for him!) I miss that sound of a running clock that goes faster with a split screen display of key scenes but not as badly as devoting an entire column to it.
It all comes down to reality ― Park Geun-hye, leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, formerly known as the Grand National Party, who has done a good job of setting herself apart, at least partially, from her family ties as daughter of Park Chung-hee, the iron-fisted dictator who dreamed a forbidden dream of becoming a king and was killed by his security chief, Kim Jae-kyu, in a drama-meets-reality case that proves absolute power corrupts absolutely. Park’s assassin, director of counter-intelligence agency, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), was quoted as telling the military tribunal, “I took on the heart of a beast and shot the heart of Yushin.” Yushin referred to the October Renewal, a series of actions by Park to make him president for life in 1972. A graduate from Japan’s imperial military academy, Park obviously borrowed the term from the Meiji Ilshin in 1868 that brought an end to the late Tokugawa Shogunate and restored imperial power.
Back to Park, the dictator’s daughter; I think she is also showing she would be able to rule, if elected Korea’s first Madame President. She has considerably softened her image from the previous “Ice Princess,” speaking in ordinary people’s language and proving her ability to deal with pressing state affairs, maintaining a cool head under fire.
If I voted for her in the Dec. 11 presidential election, it would be more than my contribution to female empowerment. I am sure that Park doesn’t want to win the election only by the dint of her gender appeal.
I think what I am trying to say is the rest of the field of potential presidential candidates ― all male ― should double their efforts not to be left in her wake in the lead-up to the December poll. After all, we, voters, want to see a neck-and-neck race with candidates competing fairly on the strength of strong civil platforms. In that race, the color of the “horses” is irrelevant. What counts is their ability to serve us well.