With Rick Santorum finally vacating the examination table, we can now turn the stethoscope to Mitt Romney. And who can say for sure, if you listen carefully, that the soft hum tickling your eardrums isn't the whirring of a thousand cogs and gears inside the challenger's chest?
In January, The Atlantic published an article titled, "The Uncanny Valley: What Robot Theory Tells Us About Mitt Romney." In it, the writer notes that Romney's president-like aesthetic but inability to connect with Joe Everyman makes him particularly off-putting to some voters, just as people are "repulsed and disturbed by automatons that mimic humans closely but imperfectly."
Maybe he combs his finely peppered hair with motor oil or maybe he just feels uncomfortable speaking in front of a crowd -- it's not my job to judge. However, it does seem relevant and somewhat entertaining to speculate what the White House might look like under the administration of five other well-known robots.
Hal 9000 -- 2001: A Space Odyssey
A calm and confident speaker with the ability to replicate human emotion, Hal would be an initial hit with the electorate if they could somehow get past the fact that he has no physical form aside from an infrared camera lens. But once the seizures subside and viewers of televised debates grow accustomed to his beaming light, Hal would win them over with unwavering decision-making and an ability to stay calm under pressure. Of course, having a supercomputer for president would have its downsides. Hal would be particularly vulnerable to hacker groups like WikiLeaks and Anonymous. And after we inform him his term is complete, he'd likely reply with a soothing, "America, I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
Bender -- Futurama
President Bender would be the Android-American equivalent of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Headstrong and hedonistic, Bender would quickly alienate evangelical conservatives, yet his alcohol fueled humor would showcase his boyish charm. His oft-expressed desire to "kill all humans" may affect his electability, but the fact that he was manufactured in Mexico disqualifies him for the U.S. presidency anyway, so I suppose this entire reflection was pointless.
C-3PO -- Star Wars
This droid's biggest presidential selling point would have to be international relations. After all, it is his primary function to manage etiquette, customs and translation between intergalactic cultures. C-3PO is very much a realist, but more in the tradition of Negative Nancy than Ronald Reagan. Just as he told Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are approximately 3,720 to 1, he wouldn't hesitate to emphasize the unlikelihood of a successful campaign in Afghanistan. Some may argue that Threepio is too submissive to stand up to the likes of Iran, North Korea or China, but having Vice-President R2D2 flex Dick Cheney-like muscle behind the scenes could add some much added backbone to the administration.
RoboCop -- RoboCop
RoboCop, like Romney, is a Michigan native. Both cyborgs were also built by megacorporations: Omni Consumer Products and Restore Our Future, respectively. But RoboCop's crusade to arrest corrupt executive Dick Jones indicates that he might treat Wall Street as more foe than friend, meaning no corporate bailouts under the RoboCop Regime. Furthermore, he has first-hand experience with mass unemployment after years of policing futuristic, dystopian Detroit. Regardless, we're clearly looking at a one-term presidency. With the action-hero type lifestyle he is used to, RoboCop would very quickly grow bored with day-to-day administrative duties. Like George W. Bush, he would be a president of action -- not words.
Lieutenant Commander Data -- Star Trek
A point upon which we can all concur: Lieutenant Commander Data is the most Romney-like of this mechanical menagerie. Both are intrinsically incapable of relating to basic human emotion, and thus compensate with intelligence and analytical prowess. Dr. Noonian Soong wiped Data's memory of all early life experiences on Omicron Theta, just as Romney hit his Etch-a-Sketch-style reset button at the end of primary season. As Cyborg-in-Chief, a Star Trek Generations-era Data would have the distinct advantage of an installed emotion chip to generate the necessary presidential feelings of compassion, anger, remorse, etc. Speculation as to when Romney will receive his emotional upgrade is still just conjecture, but rumors are circulating that the Koch Brothers have bankrolled a tech factory in China's Guangdong province.