Bridges plays this idea for all its worth, laying the charismatic smarm on thick, a guy who is in control and wants you to know he is in control. He demonstrates this control with food. Seriously. Anyone Evans invites up to the Oval Office is immediately met with a Presidential overture of food, not as a peace offering but as a “Look What I Can Do, Sparky” alert. We see this most memorably when President Evans takes a meeting with Delaware Congressman Reginald Webster (Christian Slater) who is part of Runyon’s Vice Presidential Confirmation Committee and who, like Runyon, is showing great resistance to Hanson. Before they dive into politics, however, President Evans shows off the impressive edible material in his hand.
Evans: “You know what this is? That’s a shark steak sandwich. Fucking shark steak. You want half?”
Webster: “Uh, no, thank you.”
Evans: “Are you a vegan? Had lunch?”
Webster: “Uh, no—”
Evans: “So you choose not to break bread with the President of the United States?”
So sure, Webster chooses to break bread with the President, taking half of the Commander-in-Chief’s shark steak sandwich, managing a small bite while Evans hovers with a “Mine Are Bigger” look on his face before they fall into conversation where Evans, in so many words, and quite a few more, tells Webster to back the fuck off his gonna-be VP. And all the while that shark steak sandwich lingers like a culinary threat.
I thought of this when Chris Christie revealed that President Trump, hosting the New Jersey Governor for dinner at the White House on Tuesday, ordered for Christie, explaining they would both be having the meatloaf. I liked imagining Trump as a variation of Evans, using the White House Chef as a kind of negotiating tool, lording his position with ground meat. Going further, I like imagining Trump, pettiest of the petty, doing this all the time, ordering the New York strip steaks of foreign dignarities and bootlicking congressmen well done because “everyone prefers their steak well done, as you know”, and then cancelling the Congressman’s order of a Malbec for a Diet Coke instead because “Diet Coke goes very well with steak, believe me.”