In the movie "The Andromeda Strain," scientists discover an alien bacteria with the potential to destroy humanity. Immediately, government protocols snap into place. The nation's greatest experts drop everything and race to their lab to work on the problem.
However, in a scene that was cut from the movie, these top-flight experts don't race to a remote installation beneath the Nevada desert. Rather, they fly to Washington to coordinate strategy with the hands-on commander in chief.
The nation's greatest minds nervously assemble in the Oval Office. The can-do president, all business, asks the first question. "So, whose ass should I kick?"
OK, that didn't happen. But it would have if Barack Obama had written the script.
By now you've heard what he told NBC's Matt Lauer. "I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar," Obama told Lauer. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick, right?"
A creature of elite universities with a progressive's love of technocrats, Obama is most comfortable leading colloquia of perfect-SAT-score propeller heads.
He once explained to an interviewer: "I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, academically approved approach to health care. ... But that's not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately, what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people."
Ah yes, damnable democracy, if only we could get that out of the way, we could really get things done. Where have I heard those arguments before? But I digress.
It's like a "Tonight Show" joke.
Leno: "The president is so dorky ..."
Audience: "How dorky is he?"
"He's so dorky, when he gets angry he convenes a panel of experts to tell him whose ass to kick."
And speaking of the "Tonight Show," let me reassure both editors and readers of family newspapers everywhere about my use of the word "ass." Historian Steven Hayward reminds me that in 1979, Jimmy Carter responded to Ted Kennedy's primary challenge by declaring he would "whip his ass." It was one of those moments of presidential lameness that conjures the same bile of pity, schadenfreude and heebie-jeebies one feels upon seeing a middle-aged bald dude with a long gray ponytail dancing at a rave.