The hotline telephone rings in the President’s sleeping quarters in the White House at 3:00 AM on an early spring morning in 2009. On the other end of the line is an anxious Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Mullen: Come on, come on…Pick up…
Obama’s voice (against the background music of the Hallelujah Chorus): “Hello, this is the President...”
Mullen: Mr. President! Thank God! Admiral Mullen here. The Iranians have just launched missiles at Israel…
Obama: “I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now; however, your call is important to me, so if you’ll leave a message at the tone, I’ll get back to you at the first available opportunity.”
Obama: “Or, you can choose from the following menu…”
Obama: “If you are using a rotary telephone, please stay on the line and one of our operators will be with you as soon as possible. Current waiting time is estimated at…twenty minutes…”
Mullen: Damn! We haven’t got twenty minutes!
Obama: “If this is an emergency military situation, please touch ‘1’ for Admiral Mullen…”
Mullen: I’M ADMIRAL MULLEN!!
Obama: “If this is a non-military foreign policy emergency, please touch ‘2’ for William Ayres, the Secretary of State..."
Mullen: This is preposterous!
Obama: “If you are a television news anchor who is ‘in the tank’, and would like to conduct a personal interview, please touch ‘3’ for Reverend Jeremiah Wright, White House Communications Director…”
Mullen: Oh, sure. The guy who called me a honky sailor at the last cabinet meeting? That’s likely.
Obama: “If you are a lobbyist or campaign fund raiser, please touch ‘4’ for the White House cashier…”
Mullen: We’re on the verge of war, and I get this hambone’s message machine. Un-freakin’-believable!
There is suddenly a clicking noise on the White House end of the line. An angry female voice is heard
Woman’s voice: Hello. Who is this?
Mullen (surprised): Who the hell is this?
Woman: This is Madame de la President, that’s who the hell this is! Now I’ll ask you one more time, who are you and what are you doing calling the White House at three o’clock in the morning? I’ve been laying here listening to that damn telephone answering machine for five minutes
Mullen: Mrs. Obama, this is Admiral Mullen and we’ve got an international emergency on our hands. I need to talk to the President immediately.
Michelle: Well, you can just call down to the Oval Office, ‘cause he’s sleeping on the couch.
Mullen: Mrs. Obama, I really need to talk to the President.
Michelle: Yeah, well, I really need to talk to him, too. In fact, I was talking to him plenty – and loud - about calling out some strange woman’s name in his sleep – Brunhilde or something like that – he’s been doing it for months, ever since he got back from Germany last summer. So tonight, I finally had enough and whomped him a good one upside the head, and he woke up and got all in my face, and I said, ‘You keep sassin’ me that way, Mr. Hope and Change, and you’re gonna find yourself hoping I don’t change your face, and…and…(Michelle suddenly bursts into tears)
Mullen: Ma’am, what’s wrong?
Michelle (wailing): I can’t help it! I still love the jug-eared chump!
Mullen (in a state of utter desperation): Mrs. Obama…er…Michelle, how about this: you give me the President’s cell phone number and I’ll call him and before I even mention a brand new war breaking out, I’ll straighten him out on this Brunhilde business. How would that be?
Michelle(whimpering): Would you really do that for me, Captain?
Michelle(excitedly): Oh, don’t you worry about that, honey! You fix it up between Barack and me and I’ll personally see to it that you’re promoted! Now, here’s the number: 555-5574.
Mullen: Thank you ma’am. Goodnight.
(Mullen quickly dials the cell phone number; a familiar voice answers):
Obama: This is the President.
Mullen: Thank God I was able to reach you sir! The Iranians…
Obama: “I’m sorry I can’t take your call, but if you’ll leave a message at the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Peace.”