HOW DO I GET POPULAR?
Dear Mr. President,
If any single sentient being, ling or dead, throughout the known universe past, present, or to come can conceivably conceive of your plight, it is I. While my dedicated and steadfast Dear Readership of this past decade will doubtless recall my many and manifold adventures, for those readers joining us more recently—which I believe may well include you, sir—I point to this brief overview of My Year of Living Presidentially.
Those who have never spent a moment being President of These As-of-Yet-Still United States often seem to presume it is naught but attending gala balls, slurping caviar, bathing in champagne, lubricating concubines, killing Muhammadean tribesman with radio-controlled vehicles, and occasional drunken bear wrestling—as though we all could be Millard Fillmore!
I am far from alone among post-Fillmore-ian Presidents in believing that this antique and fanciful perception of the office can be squarely pinned upon the general knavery and half-competent punditry of the Gibbering Class (Keith Ole'Bearman, Mad Glenn Back, Rachael Mad Dow—I am looking at you . . . and wondering why you are in my lab; please wait in reception until my typist, Jarwaun, comes to fetch you).
As you and I well know, Mr. President, the office does bring with it a certain amount of champagne-soaking and bear-baiting. What most voters—and every single last reporter, columnist, pundit, and mumbling-head, living, dead, and undead—do not seem to grasp is that it is so much more, and that this more is so much less. In my 360-odd days as President it was easily the case that, for every evening spent besting Angela Merkel in single combat, I was consigned to three days of mucking out Jack Abramoff's stall. Certainly, I spent an afternoon now and again calling in air strikes of nickles and Laffy Taffy against the Vatican, but had to pay dearly for each such delight with a fortnight of serving as couples counselor to Speaker Hastert and Texter Mark Foley. The countless days spent in negotiation, the mornings in cramped airplane cabins, the afternoons in cramped meeting rooms, the evenings shaking babies and kissing cramped hands, the late nights cruising the freeways for stranded motorists, changing tires and reviving spent batteries until my optically perfect eyes ached from peering into the dark, and my very tentacles were blistered and scabrous with whirling the lug wrench—the thankless servitude of it all. Negotiate a tentative peace in Gaza? Very well: the Peaceniks upbraid you for not magically forging complete and infinite warlessness; the Zionists harrow you for lending succor to the Canaanites; the OPEC-iates make hay portraying you as a Hebrew lap-dog in their press conferences; the Hittites whinge that they were ignored in Three Party talks; the Moabites scratch "DOUCHEBAG" into the paint of your sedan.
Likewise, on Thursday fore-noons, when you are stationed at 14th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue to distribute the cookies over which you slaved from before rose-fingered dawn even deigned to consider the possibility of lifting her searing head from her watery duvet, do you find a thankful citizenry yearning to be free? Never. Even as you attempt to give a free cookie crafted of organic, locally sourced ingredients of the highest caliber, it is naught but snark and commentary and base complaints from the streaming masses, who hardly even retard their forward gate while they pepper and pelt you with grousings: Are these chocolate chip? Why not oatmeal raisin; it's healthier! Were these made in a private or commercial kitchen? When was it last inspected? What's the address; I'm calling the health department right now! Are you a municipally licensed vendor? What's the catch? What's the trick? What do you want? Why isn't my Army gayer? Why is my Army so gay? Shouldn't you be doing something important? What do you mean you ran out of Organic Valley 1% skim and only have chocolate; are you trying to kill me?!? I'M DIABETIC, ASSHOLE!!! And of course, no one would think to ever offer a gratuity unto your slot-lidded mason jar.
As President, you quickly learn that each success is fleeting—every step forward quickly sliding into a lateral stumble along the slippery slope. Any progress you make is greeted as a howlingly minor half-measure by your "supporters," and a howlingly un-American dip toward National Socialism by your "detractors." There is, without a doubt, no winning, nor even a bobbing-along-with-one's-head-above water. There is only the misery of struggling in an icy and battering surf. Each day, as once again sketch a diagram of the three branches of government as the newest crop of legislators scratch their ridge-like brows in a vain attempt at possibly caring, you no doubt feel just as I did, pushing my paper cap back upon my brow and fruitlessly mopping at the dried blood and tacky offal caking the rotunda tiles: Drowning is not so pitiful as the attempt to rise.
That said, in this Holy Day Season of Non-Denominational Gifting, it behooves to recall these two facts: 1) humans—and this goes double so for Americaneros—develop a firm and natural affection for those who gift unto them, and 2) gift is the German word for "poison".
In this Season of "Gifting" (wink, wink), I Remain
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson