An improvised war room in the White House. President Obama has summoned Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon to discuss U.S. strategy in Libya.
Obama: All right, let’s see what we’ve got here. Hmmm. Yes, two maps of Libya. Now, Bob, what’s the significance of the color scheme? There’s a big patch of red, with smaller patches of yellow.
Gates: The red represents the areas currently under the control of the government, the yellow represents the areas occupied by the rebels. This [pointing at one map] is from a week ago. And this one was put together after your speech.
Obama: Okeydoke. Well, now, wait a second. The yellow patches on the most recent map are fewer and smaller than on the map from last week. How can that be? Do you suppose Qaddafi didn’t hear my speech?
Gates: Er, we’ve been assured by our intelligence sources that he did, Mr. President.
Clinton: Mr. P-p-p…
Obama: *Sigh* It’s a fact, Hillary. I won, you lost. Get over it. Mister President. See how easy it is?
Clinton: Of course, Mr. P-p…sir. Maybe Qaddafi’s forces took heart from your…let’s see, now, how can I put this in a constructive, helpful way?... from your spineless waffling on the issue of regime change, and redoubled his attacks on rebel positions.
Obama: Hey, my waffling is not spineless! It’s a kind of nuanced, yet strong and manly dithering. The sort of thing voters expect from a president when he’s trying to finesse another term. The sort of thing that a president in a red pantsuit probably couldn’t pull off.
Donilon: Forgive me for interrupting, but we’re getting a little off-topic. Why don’t we just give money to Qaddafi to get what we want?
Obama: Donilon, try to remember that you’re no longer working for Fannie Mae, will you? That stuff won’t work with a nut job like Qaddafi. Bob, what else, besides air cover, can we do to make it look like we’re…ummm…
Gates: Doing something useful?
Obama: Exactly. Perception is reality, after all.
Gates: Well, we’ve provided the rebels with some smoke bombs to help screen them in their attacks. Here, I’ve brought one with me; thought you might like to see it [hands smoke bomb canister to Obama].
Obama: Woo! It’s heavier than it looks. What does this pin do?
Gates: No, Mr. President! Don’t pull…
Obama: *Cough-cough!* Whoa! How do you turn this thing off? Gates? Gates, where are you?
Gates: Over here, sir! *Cough!*
Voice: *Gag!* What on earth is going on in here?
Obama: Ah, there you are Gates. Why are you kneeling? Your voice seems to be coming from near the floor.
Voice: I’m not kneeling. And I’m not Gates. I’m Representative Dennis Kucinich, and I just popped in to show you this bill of impeachment I’m drawing up.
Obama: Right now I can hardly see anything. *Cough-cough!* Leave it with my secretary, Spock-ears!
Clinton: *Choke!* Is this the transparency you’ve been talking about, MR. PRESIDENT?
Obama: I can still make out the map, Hillary! And I’ve got my trusty pointer! And I say, we should continue to pound the seat of government, right there!
Clinton: That was not the seat of government, buster!
Obama: Madame Secretary, you are hereby ordered to stop wearing those red pantsuits for the duration! What the… Where’s that water coming from?
Donilon: It looks like the smoke has set off the sprinkler system, sir.
A door opens. Gliding through the smoke like a stately ship plowing through a fog bank, the dignified silhouette of the president’s gentleman’s personal gentleman – Gustave Napoleon Toussaint D’Orleans, late of Haiti – can be seen striding to the window, the falling water pounding out a wet cadence on the umbrella with which he has wisely equipped himself for just such an emergency.
D'Orleans: Never fear, Monsieur le President! I will open ze window – so! – and turn on ze electric fan, and ze air weel be clear in ze nothings flat. [Mutters under his breath] Parbleu! May le bon Dieu preserve us from zees progresseeve war-manglers!