A Cabinet meeting
Obama: Ok, everybody, let’s get started. As you know, I’ll be making a visit to Turkey in the not-too-distant future, and since we’ve had some protocol problems lately, I want to get this one right. By the way, Hillary, did you find out who gave you the bogus Russian translation?
Clinton: Yes, Mr. Pr-pr-pr…
Obama: President, president, p-r-e-s-…
Clinton: Yes, sir, I know, I know. I’ll work on it. To answer your question: yes, I found out who gave me the wrong translation. It was some junior nobody, a lousy GS-9, on the Russia desk. I’ve taken disciplinary steps.
Obama: I’m sure I can count on you to see that that kind of thing doesn’t happen again. [A noise resembling a muffled pistol shot is heard coming from the direction of the basement] What was that?
Clinton: Sounded like disciplinary steps, to me.
Obama: Er…yes…yes, of course. Now, what about Turkey? It looks like I bombed with Prime Minister Brown, so I want to make sure the gift I give the Sultan is perfect.
Clinton: Sir, Turkey doesn’t have a sultan anymore.
Obama: Well, caliph, pasha, whatever they call the guy.
Clinton: The leader of the country is President Abdullah Gül.
Obama: You know, Hillary, it’s funny how you don’t have any trouble saying “president” when somebody else’s name besides mine goes with it.
Clinton: I’m working on it, sir.
Obama: All right. About the presidential gift, then. I’m thinking of something typically American, something iconic. What about a Smithfield ham?
Emanuel: Mr. President, Turkey is technically a secular state, but it is heavily Islamic.
Emanuel: Muslims don’t eat pork.
Obama: Oh. I thought that was just your people who didn’t eat pork, Rahm. Ok, let me see…hmmmm…I’ve got it! A case of California wine.
Emanuel: Mr. President…
Obama: I know what you’re thinking, Rahm, but I’m not talking about the cheap, screw-top stuff. I’m talking about wine in bottles with real corks.
Emanuel: Sir, Muslims don’t drink alcoholic beverages, either.
Obama: Man! Talk about hard to shop for. I guess a six-pack of Yoo-hoo…
Emanuel: Would be completely out of the question, that’s right, sir.
Obama: I haven’t got all day to worry about this. Joe, I’m going to ask you to…Mr. Vice President, do you need a Kleenex?
Joe Biden (hastily withdrawing an index finger from the recesses of a nostril): Oh, heh, I wasn’t picking, I was just…
Obama: Never mind that. I’m tasking you with the responsibility of choosing a present for the Turkish president.
Joe: No problem, sir. You can safely leave the matter in my capable hands. Oops! Sorry…(leans over to pick up a water-glass that one of his capable hands knocked off the table).
* * *
Some time later, during the first official meeting between President Obama and President Abdullah Gül
President Gül (staring at the gift which the American president has just placed in his hand): Well...I have to say, it’s…hmm…just what I’ve always wanted, of course; a Yes We Can Opener.