Barack Obama makes a routine visit to see his doctor, on the day of his 30-minute infomercial.
Doctor (A small, somewhat pudgy little fellow, whose coke-bottle eyeglasses give him an owlish appearance; he speaks in an unexpectedly rich, soothing baritone): Good morning, Senator!
Obama: Er, good morning. Say, you’re not my regular doctor.
Doctor: No, I’m Dr. Mindbender. Your regular physician had an emergency call, and probably won’t be back for several hours. Of course, if you’d care to reschedule…
Obama: Oh, no, no. This is just a routine visit. I’ve got to give a speech tonight on national television, and I want to be at my best. Frankly, doctor, I’ve been troubled by bouts of insomnia, lately.
Doctor: Yes, your eyes do look a little glassy; a little tired. Here, let me turn off this awful overhead light; we’ve got plenty of beautiful sunlight coming through the window, anyhow! (takes an ophthalmoscope from the pocket of his white lab coat and peers at Obama’s eyes). Mmmmm…Yes I can tell that you’re tired. And there’s some discoloration in the corner of your right eye; possibly a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Nothing to worry about. Here; I’m going to hold this silver pocket watch up to one side and I’d like you to focus on it.
Obama: Certainly, Doctor (Obama looks at the watch; it’s twirling, slowly, on its chain; the light from the window is twinkling on it; it’s very pleasant…almost…mesmerizing…).
Doctor: That’s right. Relax. My, you are tired, aren’t you? I can see your eyelids drooping…they’re getting heavier and heavier…you’re getting sleepy…very sleepy…
Doctor: Listen carefully, Barack. You’re giving a speech tonight. It is a very important speech. I am going to tell you what to say. Forget the talk that you have prepared and that you have been practicing up to now. I will tell you exactly what you need to say. When you sit in front of the cameras, as soon as you say, “Good evening, my fellow Americans”, you will completely forget the old speech and you will only remember the one I will give you now…Here is what you have to say…
(Later on the evening of the same day. A broadcast studio. Cameramen are getting their equipment into position; the soundman is doing a last-minute check; the make-up girl is flicking a piece of lint off of Obama’s suit, as he sits behind a desk, poised to give what may be the most important talk of his life. The director begins the countdown to air time…On the air!)
“Good evening my fellow Americans…I…er…tonight I want to talk to you about…about…about Oxiclean Products! (his voice suddenly rises an octave, and the decibel level makes the soundman jerk the earphones off his head). Are you tired of spending good money for name-brand laundry products that leave your colors looking faded, your whites looking yellow and dingy? Then you need Oxiclean! Hi, Billy Mays here…”
(The cameraman, the director, the soundman and the make-up girl are standing offstage, stunned, their jaws dropping, looking rather like a line of rural mailboxes with the flaps hanging down; the director finally manages to make the “cut” sign, a few moments after Obama has diverged from listing the wonderful effects on laundry of Oxiclean, and embarked on a detailed explanation of the product’s many other uses, including cleaning the grime from kitchen stoves and bathtubs.)
* * *
A cold autumn wind buffets Paco Tower, bringing a chilly downpour of rain; however, the bad weather serves only to enhance the sense of warmth and well-being enjoyed by the Captain of Industry, as he sits in his library, sipping brandy and smoking an Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Churchill. Spurgeon the butler is gingerly placing another log on the fire – from a cord of logs imported from the Brazilian rainforest - when the phone rings.
“Don’t bother, Spurgeon; I’ll get it. Hello? Oh, hello, Dr. Mindbender! Permit me to congratulate you on a sterling piece of work! By the by, how did you manage to detain the senator’s regular doctor? Really? Well, I suppose someone must have released him by this time; I mean to say, if you’re handcuffed to a ball-washing machine on the golf course, someone’s bound to find you sooner or later. What’s that? No, I don’t know what the impact in the polls is, yet, but I do understand that Oxiclean saw a spike in online orders; I’m glad the poor fellow has at least something to show for his ordeal. I’ll have Spurgeon bring your check around to the carnival. And, doctor: your country thanks you.”