The story goes that in the 1950s, because it couldn't determine what Dwight Eisenhower was saying in his tangled thicket of words during press conferences, The New York Times started printing transcripts and letting its readers figure out his meanings.
Suppose, just to be supposin', you were part of the White House press corps and were approved to ask the first question at the president's next press conference. Here's an imaginary transcript.
All rise for the Maximum Leader.
Thank you. I have no statement. Now, if I can just find my list of acceptable questioners -- here it is. Oh yes. Wanda?
Sir, you have just returned from your apology tour to Europe and the Middle East, during which you frequently lamented America and what it has done. Do you feel your trip was a success?
I don't accept your phraseology. It was not an apology tour but a reality tour, wherein I confessed after too long for the many real sins this nation has visited upon the world. I have made it clear that I am a believer in change. It is past time that we changed -- and made a clean break with the discredited policies of the past. This is no longer our hour but a global hour. We cannot yet know if the beautiful peoples of the world accepted our confession. If they did, then the trip was a success.
Mr. President, despite all the medical evidence that smoking is bad for one's health, you said in a December television interview that you occasionally fall off the wagon. My question is: Do you still sneak cigarettes in the Rose Garden?
I can assure you smoking is bad for children, and I am doing everything in my power to give them the strong education every American child deserves -- contrary to the Neanderthal Bushies.
Over here, at the end of the second row. Melissa, it's your turn.
Mr. President, the Republicans are saying that your deficit spending programs will equal in just your first 20 months in office the deficit run up by President Bush in his entire eight years. How do you respond to that?
Look. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and too many Americans haven't had any lunch since the turn of the millennium. Don't believe what you see and hear in the Limbaugh-Bush press. I will pledge right here that Americans finally will have their lunch handed to them -- and a hot lunch at that.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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