So when are we going to see an Asian American President on mainstream TV or in the movies?

One day a reality or just Photoshop?

The New York Times just did a story about “Before Obama, There Was Bill Cosby,” which I found quite coincidental, since I was contemplating recently with all the Obama election victory coverage about his historic win about what brought us to this moment in time, and how I thought that there would be no President Elect Obama without The Cosby Show (also coined as The Huxtable Effect by a blogger). As the Times put it:

“But one idea seems to be gaining traction, and improbably it has Bill Cosby and Karl Rove in agreement: “The Cosby Show,” which began on NBC in 1984 and depicted the Huxtables, an upwardly mobile black family — a departure from the dysfunction and bickering that had characterized some previous shows about black families — had succeeded in changing racial attitudes enough to make an Obama candidacy possible. On election night Mr. Rove, the former Bush strategist, said on Fox News: “We’ve had an African-American first family for many years in different forms. When ‘The Cosby Show’ was on, that was America’s family. It wasn’t a black family. It was America’s family.” “

That is what I thought when I saw the Obama family on stage in Grant Park as they all were waving their hands into America’s living rooms and why I used that family photo on my blog post about Asian Americans overwhelmingly supporting Obama. Before, if you saw a black president portrayed on television, like Dennis Haysbert‘s portrayal of David Palmer as the President of the United States or Morgan Freeman as president in Deep Impact, you knew that you were watching fiction. Who would have ever thought that the United States would ever elect a black man as president? In the final episode of the final season of The West Wing, Jimmy Smits portrays Matthew Santos, a Hispanic Democratic candidate and Senator that becomes President Elect.

Some have argued that ABC’s 2005 failed “Commander in Chief” television series portraying Geena Davis as female President Mackenzie Allen was a liberal conspiracy to get the country comfortable for a President Hillary Clinton… In the upcoming new season 7 of Fox’s ’24,’ actress Cherry Jones will be portraying the president.

I ask you – has there ever been an Asian American portrayed as a president or presidential candidate on American television or film? If not, more now than ever, is the time to have one! If we cannot even imagine having an Asian American president fictionally, how will America ever have an Asian American in reality?

I think the first viable Asian American to run for president will be Republican Governor Bobby Jindall of Louisiana. He was already rumored to be on John McCain’s vice-presidential short list. I expect Jindall to run in 2010 and/or 2014. Jindall is currently 37, so he has plenty of time to get more experience. A future contender may be John Chiang, currently California’s state controller. But first, I believe Chiang has ambitions to be the governor of California. There are rumors that America’s first Asian American governor (of the mainland, or as Sarah Palin would put it, “in the lower 48”), former governor of the state of Washington, Gary Locke, may be appointed to an Obama cabinet position.

I missed this 3-part series in AsianWeek earlier this summer titled, “The First Asian Pacific American President: With an African American on the path to the White House, when is it our turn?” I think it will probably not be in my lifetime. But at the very least, I would hope to see an Asian American president in a television series or major American film prior to an Asian American being elected President of the United States (POTUS).

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Author: John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)