Is there a group more trapped in the world of hysterical obviousness than the presidential press corps? In his first news conference as president-elect, Obama was called cautious in his responses by The Washington Post. Perhaps that’s not the right word. Bored brainless might be better. Every question, regardless of whether it was on foreign or domestic policy, had a hidden assumption that this guy was already the president, even though he had rightly opened his remarks by saying he wasn’t the president, that there was only one government and one president.
And the media not only missed Obama’s brilliant self-parody answer of the “dog” question, they actually treated it as another example of his wonkish self control and caution.
Oh, what might have happened if the reporters had asked real questions? Let’s find out.
Q: Senator Obama, is it true you’re going to have cosmetic surgery on your ears to prevent the possibility of being carried away by a really blustery wind?
Obama: Well, Michelle and I have talked about it, but, remember, I’ve spent many years in Chicago where blustery winds are considered the norm. It’s true I once was walking along Lake Michigan and an unusually strong wind lifted me up and dumped me into the water, but my ears served as sails, and I safely got back to land. So, the answer is no… although I will work hard to keep feathers out of my nose.
Q: Senator, you’ve promised a chicken in every pot, a car in every driveway, and a home for every American. Good campaign stuff. We know you couldn’t tell the American people the truth while running for office. Look what happened to McCain when he said we’d have to revisit Medicare spending. But now that the campaign is over, what sacrifices are the American people going to have to make?
Obama: (Turns to aide. “They can’t un-elect me, can they?” Aide: "No, sir.") Let me just say oy, vat a mess. You vouldn’t believe the mishegas. I just got an in-depth intelligence briefing, and, let me be honest, had I known what was really going on, I might have blown those three debates. And the economy, don’t get me going on that. Standing behind me are fifteen of the world’s best economic minds, and they can’t even agree about the shape of the table they’re supposed to be sitting at. And the beggars at my door — I feel like the Pope on Let The Beggars In Day at the Vatican. Car makers, insurance companies, banks, union leaders, former Lithuanian secret service agents, girl scouts, the homeless, the tired, the poor, rich whites, poor whites, Congressional Democrats… what am I, a free lunch counter?
For God’s sake, we really are a nation of whiners. Let’s be real, Americans are going to have to cinch in their belts — if they have them. If not, tie that rope tighter around your waist. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Q: Mr. President-Elect, on The Daily Show recently you admitted that your white side and black side are often in conflict. You spent an awfully long time in the voting booth. What really did happen in there? Which side won, and for whom did you finally vote?
Obama: I won’t lie to you, it was a difficult moment. I wasn’t sure who was going to win until the last moment, when the white side of me was dominating, and my hand was hovering over the McCain button, but my black side rallied and called out, “Yo, there be a picture of Sarah Palin naked.” My white side whipped around to see it, and my black side quickly voted for me. Phew.
Q: Follow-up, sir. How will that affect your decisions when you’re president?
Obama: That’s an excellent question, and I’m grateful for the chance to speak directly to the American people about this issue, for it’s not a problem with which I alone must grapple. Italian Americans struggle with the choice between pasta and rice; Japanese Americans wrestle with the maddening challenge of cooked or raw fish; Jewish Americans… well, they already eat lots of bacon, so they’ve resolved that; Irish Americans try to drink bourbon to show they’ve assimilated, but they hate it. Most quickly return to Irish whiskey, mostly, as I understand, Jameson.
And let’s face it, folks, most white Americans already eat hush puppies, grits, barbeque, collard greens — although why they eat collard greens is a mystery to most black people — we only ate it because that’s all we had — so African Americans aren’t all that different.
Does that answer your question?
Q: Sir, your wife, Michelle Obama, is a formidable presence in her own right…
Obama: You’re telling me?
Q: …how much authority and power will she wield in the White House as First Lady?
Obama: Look, she understands that I will be the President of the United States. I understand that she will continue to be She Who Must Be Obeyed.
Thank you, and au revoir.