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Biden's secret Ukraine trip conjures movie presidents' adventures

US Pres Joe Biden with Ukraine Pres Volodymyr Zelenskyy Kyiv 20Feb2023_Zelenskyy Telegram
U.S. President Joe Biden with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meeting after Biden's secret trip to Kyiv on Feb. 20, 2023. (Photo via Zelenskyy Telegram account)

We woke up this morning (some later than others…) to news that while we were sleeping, President Joe Biden was in Ukraine.

The overnight trip from Washington, D.C., to an active war zone was under a cloak of secrecy for obvious security reasons. Only a handful of White House, Pentagon, Secret Service, and intelligence community personnel were in the know. It, of course, included a 10-hour train ride by the Amtrak-loving 46th president.

The momentousness, and danger, of the trip was underscored as air-raid sirens sounded as Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walked Kyiv's streets.



Biden's surprise trip was to emphasize the United States' continued commitment to Ukraine in its right against the Russian invasion, which started nearly a year ago. At a news conference with Zelenskyy, Biden announced additional U.S. aid for Ukraine, and reiterated that the support would last for "as long as it takes."

Real vs. reel presidential adventures: The U.S. president's trip was real, alarmingly so given the sirens as the two world leaders were out in the open in a war zone. But to many, it had the surreal air of a movie, especially since it happened on the U.S. holiday Presidents' Day.

I applaud the Biden Administration for pulling off the clandestine excursion. I look forward to more details on how it was pulled off, especially in this day of 27/7 news and online reports.

I also want to suggest some of my favorite action movies involving silver screen commanders-in-chief that you might enjoy if you don't have to work on this Monday holiday and are looking for a way to spend a few hours not thinking about the real crises facing our country and the world.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) — When the White House (Secret Service Code: "Olympus") is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As the national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning's inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the president, and avert an even bigger disaster. Antoine Fuqua directs Gerard Butler as the Secret Service agent/former Army Ranger who saves the president played by Aaron Eckhart. Bonus casting: Morgan Freeman is Speaker of the House.

White House Down (2013) — Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation's government falling into chaos and time running out, it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. The president this time is played by Jamie Foxx, with Channing Tatum as the hero. And what is up with two White House thrillers in the same year? People overhearing each other at the studio commissary?

Air Force One (1997) — Russian terrorists conspire to hijack the aircraft with the president and his family on board. The commander in chief finds himself facing an impossible predicament: give in to the terrorists and sacrifice his family, or risk everything to uphold his principles - and the integrity of the nation. Harrison Ford plays the president, Glenn Close is the vice president, and the bad guy ringleader is portrayed by Gary Oldman. Below is the great "get off my plane" clip.



Independence Day (1996) — On July 2, a giant alien mothership enters orbit around Earth and deploys several dozen saucer-shaped 'destroyer' spacecraft that quickly lay waste to major cities around the planet. On July 3, the United States conducts a coordinated counterattack that fails. On July 4, a plan is devised to gain access to the interior of the alien mothership in space, in order to plant a nuclear missile. Bill Pullman is the single-father, fighter pilot president, and cigar-smoking Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum save the world from the space invaders.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) — President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers. What else would you expect from a movie produced, in part, by Tim Burton? Benjamin Walker if the stake-wielding Abe. Walker might be facing some typecasting, as he previously played Andrew Jackson in the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, another mix of U.S. historical fact and fantasy.

Not the best, but fun: OK, these movies aren't necessarily the best flicks about presidents. But they live up to their popcorn movie moniker, offering some mindless escapism as the U.S. good guys defeat evil terrorists (and extraterrestrials and supernatural entities). 

In most of them, the victories are accomplished by taking down helicopters and blowing up a lot of stuff.


And finally, in a plot twist you had to know was coming, here's a little bit of taxes mixed in with your movies:







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