Editors note: This column is based in part upon an exclusive interview with Chuck Norris originally conducted in 1988.
Chuck Norris for president! He knows his way around the White House. He’s been there for dinner. He played golf with Nancy Reagan. He went to Korea. He was an MP in the service. Don’t mess with him – he was a martial arts champ who became an actor at age 36, starred in more than 20 motion pictures and can crunch creeps like cockroaches.
Chuck Norris for president! He’s a God-fearing kind of guy. He’d keep us out of war, or help us win the ones we’ve already lost – on film. He’s a one-man avenging army, so we could cut defense spending considerably. Even when he was 47, he worked out three hours a day and his resting heartbeat was 39 or 40. He can cry on cue, and he can do his own stunts, which would be helpful in strategic negotiations. He’s been known to travel with his workout partner-cum-bodyguard and his personal hairdresser, so he’d always be ready in a crisis.
Chuck Norris for president! He might be a millionaire, but he has simple, decent origins – Oklahoma, and a younger brother killed in Vietnam. Not exactly log cabin or trailer, but a sturdy Baptist mother who kept the family together while his father struggled with the dual demons of drink and underemployment.
Chuck Norris for president! He likes Reader’s Digest and biographies of successful people. Once, after a freak accident took a chunk out of his face, he completed shooting a film wearing a plastic nose rather than halt production until he healed. He told me the best self-help book he ever read was “The Power of the Subconscious Mind.” He rates himself “extremely happy.” So what if a movie maven once labeled his screen presence less expressive than a kumquat’s? He shrugs off harsh criticism like just so much insignificant drizzle. He says he’s proud he doesn’t really show facial emotions –everything radiates from his eyes. He’s secure.
Chuck Norris for president! If he has a weakness, it might be something as insignificant as Snickers candy bars, so at least we’d be assured of sweeter scandals. Blue-eyed, blond, bearded, he “centers” himself by racing boats and cars. He avoids arguments and red meat, so maybe state suppers could be more down-home with, say, tuna casserole on paper plates. He’s never been much of a drinker, so we know he’d be clearheaded where it counts, in the brain-cell department.
Chuck Norris for president! He’s never grazed or even heard of fern bars, let alone visited one. Don’t worry – it’s only in the movies that he wastes people, not words, that he says, “I’ll hit you with so many lefts you’ll beg for a right,” or, “If I want your opinion I’ll beat it out of you,” or, “I don’t step on toes, I step on necks.” Sure he always wanted to be a cop. But consider the alternatives. Charles Bronson has left the building, hasn’t he? Clint Eastwood doesn’t even want to be a mayor anymore. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Kennedy by marriage, and – shudder – occasionally exhibits a sense of humor, but he’s a foreigner. Sylvester Stallone once even dated a debutante, for Pete’s sake.
Chuck Norris for president! Clearly, he’s always had international pretensions. We met during an exclusive, in-person interview upon publication of his 1988 autobiographical volume, “The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story.” Impressive stuff. Page 188: “Man can be defeated but not destroyed.” By now, he must really know his way around the White House: “I was on tour [and] I get a call I’ve been invited to the White House for a state dinner. So I had to … get my tuxedo to Washington, D.C. … And it was a tremendous thrill. I mean, looking back, you know, I keep pinching myself. I can’t believe this … shy kid from Oklahoma who had never done a book report or school play, who just barely got out of high school and is having the opportunity to go to a state dinner and meet with the president and first lady,” he grins. “What an experience that was.”
He elaborates: “I have a pretty good quality of reading people I’ve developed over the years. I get it from martial arts training. And you read a lot from people’s eyes. I meet a lot of politicians, and you can read their eyes. … Everything comes from the eyes, you know; you can really read the eyes.”
He has a fond recollection of actually getting to talk to then-President Reagan for about 10 minutes. “And I just told him how much I respected and admired him. Because what I like about him is that when he came into the presidency, he turned disrespect for the flag and almost disrespect for our country into a new image for us to look up to. And I really respected that, because I felt real bad that people were spitting on the flag. I really hate to see that happening. I’m a real flag-waver, and I love our country.”
Right. So, this whole notion of movie heroes entering politics – can he foresee himself seeking office? “Well,” he laughs, “Rona Barrett calls me Senator Norris. But no, I don’t have any aspirations to become a politician. No …” Well, then, just suppose he was Ruler of the World? “There would never be any violence, no killing, ah, I’d try to make it as harmonious as possible,” Chuck Norris says. “You know, that’s the whole thing – you’d try to make it a very harmonious life.”
Listen, we sure could do worse.