"... Mitt Romney be elected the 11th legitimate President." Meaning?
March 28, 2014 12:28 AM   Subscribe

In the 7th season 4th Ep of 30 Rock, Jack Donaghey states, "...we have to spend all of our money to help Mitt Romney become the 11th legitimate President of the United States." I paraphrased a bit, because there was a joke in there about fabulous hair, and another about women in politics, but the overall meaning of the joke about "11th legitimate President," escapes me. This happened during the 2012 election cycle. Please clarify. Thanks.
posted by jbenben to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I believe the joke is that all of the other presidents, except for a small handful, were not "legitimate" to Jack because their politics are not truly aligned with his (and his buddies) own absurdly conservative/capitalist views.

I should warn that I haven't seen the episode but watched the show plenty and that's what I picked up from this quote - if there's other context in the episode I'm missing I might be completely, embarrassingly off.
posted by windbox at 12:50 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Windbox has it. The Donaghey character was a Republican caricature:

"Okay, in my defense, every April 22nd I honor Richard Nixon's death by getting drunk and making some unpopular decisions."

I don't know who the other nine legitimate presidents were, but there have only been 18 Republican presidents and most Republicans would scratch both Bushes, Gerry Ford, Teddy Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover from the list.
posted by three blind mice at 2:19 AM on March 28, 2014

Romney would have been the 11th conservative Republican elected.

When the Republican party started, it was a liberal party. Lincoln was the first Republican president. Lincoln was a far-left liberal.

During McKinley administration, the Republican party became considerably more conservative largely due to the relationship between McKinley and Sen. Mark Hanna. But, McKinley was still not a true conservative. It took some time for Hanna's influence to truly change the Republican party. Teddy Roosevelt, the next Republican did not come from Hanna's wing of the party, and was also not a true conservative.

The first Republican president to be truly conservative was Taft. Every Republican since then has been a conservative.

Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush.
Romney would have been the 11th conservative Republican president.
posted by Flood at 4:21 AM on March 28, 2014 [28 favorites]

I always thought that joke referred to the disputes over legitimacy of the last few elections... Obama is a secret Kenyan and so isn't eligible to become president; Gore contested the election and the Supreme Court handed the presidency over to Bush. I thought the "11th" implied that there had been irregularities in many more elections than that.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:27 AM on March 28, 2014

Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush.

I'm guessing he is counting McKinley but isn't counting Eisenhower.
posted by deanc at 6:23 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I vaguely recall taking that joke to mean that some presidents were legitimately elected, i.e. by the voters, while the rest were selected by some kind of elite cabal to which Jack was affiliated or acquainted. "We control the horizontal; we control the vertical" as it were.

The above seem like better hypothesis. However, Jack certainly did imply from time to time that he was connected to hidden forces of immense societal influence, and I don't just mean the Sbarro Family.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:21 AM on March 28, 2014

I also thought it was a reference to a shadow government, as if the other presidents were installed as pawns or figureheads.

It's also possible that the line is inscrutable and open-ended and that's the joke
posted by Smallpox at 8:37 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was looking for the list or reasoning behind the list of the previous 10 "legit" presidents. Thank you all!!
posted by jbenben at 11:04 AM on March 28, 2014

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