The President was seated on the edge of his bed staring so intently at the nails on his outstretched fingers that the ringing of his phone failed to register. He was certain their unmanicured state would be instantly obvious to everyone. Finally on the third ring he snapped his gaze to the Blackberry on his nightstand. Daley, again. Two hours until the guests for tonight’s birthday gala begin to arrive and not a moment’s peace. Barack sighed and answered the call.
“Hey Bill, what’s up? I don’t have a lot of time.”
“Sure thing, Mr. President, I know tonight’s a big deal for you…”
“Big deal for Michelle and the girls,” the President interrupted, “frankly I’m not real excited about rolling over the old odometer.”
“Of course,” Bill replied. Funny, as Chief of Staff Bill had just spent two months coordinating the President’s personal directives on the guest list, entertainment, and decor while negotiating his admonishments over perceived slights to every imaginable aggrieved peoples. LGB&T friendly menu? What the hell does that mean? Sausages for some and artichokes for others? “Anyway, I hate to be a wet blanket but we need to meet in the morning to coordinate our messaging on the markets.”
“Yeah, I heard the market was off today. Where did it finish?”
“Down 512. The media are picking at Carney like sea gulls at a bucket of fish heads. We’ve got to get Republicans’ fingerprints on the economy.”
“Shit!” One freaking day. The President’s gaze had by now shifted to his shoes. Why the hell can’t I go one freaking day without bad economic news? Not even on my damn birthday.
“You’ve got a fundraising breakfast scheduled for 7:30 tomorrow morning. Then off to Camp David. We’re should meet at 6:00 to get our talking points out on the morning shows. We’ve got to get Jay something to work with…”
“Look Bill, I’m not going to do it. You guys work it out. Tonight’s a big fundraising night too and I don’t think having one night of fun is too much to ask – even for the Commander in Chief. It’s not like you need me to give the order to get Osama Bin Laden here. Messaging is for you and the pollsters to decide.”
“Yes sir, Mr. President. We’ll handle it. Sorry about the bad news.” Bill was lying. Slapping the President with harsh reality seemed to be the only thing that snapped Obama, however briefly, out of his Groundhog Day-like behavior.
Sometimes Bill wondered if the President realized he wasn’t the only person who could remember the previous days’ events. Only unlike Phil Connor, who took wildly divergent paths to finally find his salvation, Obama gets up every day and does the exact same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. If he’s going to be an eternally insufferable bastard he could at least be funny about it.
“Sure, Bill, see you later.” Bill was a good guy but too soft. The President chuckled to himself, “Hell, if Bill had his way I’d be making decisions for him about everything.” Rahm had always been eager to make choices. Maybe too eager? No matter. In two minutes he’d be enjoying a quiet shower to wash away the tension; maybe a quick beer before the guests arrive.
“Right here, babe.” Michelle sounds pretty happy, the President thought, the stress of the party has really been getting to her lately. She looked stunning as she walked in sporting her new gown and freshly coiffed do. Odd that she was ready before him for once in their marriage. And he thought he’d never live to see the day.
Her bright smile quickly turned to puzzlement before she spoke, though, “Why aren’t you dressed?”
“It’s only six o’clock, baby, I’m about to grab a quick shower and get ready.”
“Barack, it’s almost seven. How long have you been sitting there staring at your hands?”
“What? No, I was on the phone with Bill laying out some ideas on the economy…”
“Well hurry up and get dressed. You don’t have time for a shower now. Our guests will be here any minute. Let’s go now.”
“Oh, and I thought we agreed on locally-sourced organic produce? You know how our guests feel about corporate farming. How are children going to learn healthy eating habits with you choking down giant cheeseburgers one day and buying commercially-grown produce the next?”
So that’s it, Lord? Not even one lousy, stinking quiet shower on my 50th birthday? I’m doing my best to clean up the mess I inherited and can’t buy myself a few minutes of solitude in the shower. Even Charlie Manson gets that. What are you? A Republican? That birthday cake better be really [email protected]%&ing chocolatey.