The Harrowing Adventures of President Obama

Looking back on his first term

Until a few counties in places like Florida and Ohio decide this thing on Election Day, we're skipping ahead a few years. We're impatient that way.

January 20, 2009:

Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. On an innovative "second stage," U2 performs; presumptive Secretary of the Interior Al Gore arrives in a hot-air balloon to deliver a PowerPoint presentation on climate change. Obama's Inaugural Address quotes Lincoln ("the better angels of our nature"), Kennedy ("The torch has been passed to a new generation"), and John Cougar Mellencamp ("You've gotta stand for something or you're gonna fall for anything"). He promises a 50 percent reduction in nuclear weapons by 2012, an "effective end" to the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by 2010, and "no substitute for victory" over global warming; he also references hope, pride, humility, change, renewal, redemption, and peace. Half of the media coverage is cautiously skeptical ("Obama's Tall Order," The New York Times); half is openly contemptuous, assailing the president's "airy generalities" and "wonkish specifics," his misattribution of a Ginger Rogers quote to Mellencamp, U2's lame performance, and the carbon footprint of Gore's hot-air balloon

President Obama on July 18, 2011
Kyle T. Webster
President Obama on July 18, 2011
Bono performing on the "second stage" during Obama's swearing-in ceremony.
Kyle T. Webster
Bono performing on the "second stage" during Obama's swearing-in ceremony.

January 21, 2009:

President Obama is forced to hit the ground running after it is announced that multinational forces have invaded Iran from Iraq to take out suspected "nuclear facilities," an attack secretly ordered by President Bush before his successor took the oath of office. John Woo, Douglas Feith, and other former government officials appear on television to explain the constitutionality of this action. General Petraeus is fired when he refuses Obama's countermand and is replaced by a recommissioned Wesley Clark. Obama labors around the clock to minimize the damage and to replace other officers who have resigned in protest, including all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "TREASON!" headlines run in several U.S. papers. Obama is lynched in effigy. He sets up a meeting with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad within the month. Senator Tom Coburn announces that he will introduce a bill of impeachment..

January 24, 2009:

Obama's children are said to complain that he has not yet delivered on the puppy he said he would buy them after the election. "ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE," reports the Boston Herald, running a picture of a cute puppy next to a grainy photo of three American soldiers who have been captured by the Iranians.

January 27, 2009:

American forces withdraw from Iran but wait near the border as Obama negotiates with Ahmadinejad. Maureen Dowd calls this "the cool line," but Ahmadinejad is slow to deliver the soldiers, and "Nuke Iran" throwback T-shirts are distributed at NASCAR races and megachurches. In a dramatic speech on the Senate floor, Coburn renounces his impeachment bill, saying he would prefer to "smack some sense into our so-called president with my bare hands." A raucous session ensues lasting into the night, until the sergeant-at-arms engages bouncers from a local nightclub to restore order. Outside the chamber, Jim Webb beats John McCain unconscious and spends the night in jail.

February 7, 2009:

The three captive U.S. soldiers are finally released. They arrive at Andrews Air Force Base and hold a press conference at which they denounce President Obama for "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."

March 2, 2009:

Obama announces that he's sending John Kerry and Richard Clarke to negotiate a reduction in nuclear arms with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev under the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Medvedev, enthusiastic at first, sends mixed signals after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, at a widely covered private party, is given a cake in the shape of Ukraine, which he enthusiastically cuts and distributes to his distinguished guests, all of them Russian gas-company officials. Through back channels, the Russians suggest that disbanding NATO might help smooth negotiations; Obama indignantly refuses. Kerry and Clarke spend the Russian meetings drinking vodka and talking over old times and leave empty-handed. "NOTHING BUT NYET! 'Bama Lays an 'O,' " reports the New York Post.

April 30, 2009:

Despite Democratic domination of the House and Senate, Obama tells Secretary of the Interior Gore, whose weight has ballooned to 370 pounds, that "we don't have the votes" to pass his Mandatory Windmill Act. Gore gives a controversial speech at Columbia University attacking "entrenched interests at the highest levels of our government," goes into seclusion for eight days and emerges with a beard. He vows not to shave again until greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced by 50 percent.

May 13, 2009:

Gore is felled by a fatal heart attack during a two-day teach-in in Missoula. The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial bids farewell to "Carbohydrate Al." Obama replaces him with oilman T. Boone Pickens, who accepts the job only when the administration raises the interior secretary's salary to $7 million a year and throws in a private jet.

July 23, 2009: A House subcommittee considers a bill of censure against Obama for failing to withdraw any troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. At a press conference, a visibly annoyed Obama says that "these things take time," especially since several of the command leaders in those areas have been replaced by Blackwater mercenaries who are "just getting the hang of things." The next day, Obama is further embarrassed when one of these new appointees, former drilling-rig assembler Jerry Gingold, publicly urinates on a Koran while drunk, precipitating the Second Battle of Haditha.

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