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

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.

June 29, 2009:

At the behest of the Obama administration, Congressional Democrats hold hearings on renegotiating NAFTA. When they focus on the traffic and safety issues raised by the expanded use of rickety but colorfully painted Mexican trucks on the nation's highways, Republicans respond by asserting that Obama "thinks Mexicans can't drive." Mexican-American NASCAR drivers appear before the committee to dispute this slander. George Lopez publicly switches to the Republican Party.

August 2, 2009:

To protest the "arrogant conceit" of the Obama administration, the Republican members of his cabinet resign en masse. "I never wanted the job anyway," comments Postmaster General Joe Lieberman.

December 14, 2009:

In a New Yorker exposé, Seymour Hersh reveals that President Obama has engaged international mercenaries to monitor and destabilize foreign governments. Pundits debate whether the story's headline, "Black Ops," is racist. A man claiming to be one of these so-called "Obama's Boys" starts a blog recounting his alleged secret activities in Caracas, Ashkhabad, Harare, and other world capitals. When he and the blog disappear, rumors spread that the administration has had him assassinated.

January 27, 2010:

At his State of the Union address, Obama is loudly heckled by the few remaining Republican senators, who greet specific words in his speech ("military," "health care," "hope," etc.) with different pre-arranged group responses, including hisses, kissing noises, donkey-like braying, and muffled "bullshits" and "fuck you's." Al Franken goes to the bathroom and never comes back; Senator Hillary Clinton is seen at intervals talking on her cell phone and eating trail mix. In the Republican response, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal appears with a Bible, from which he quotes extensively as soft organ music plays.

March 8, 2010:

After another failed coup, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announces, "Fuck it—no more oil for the gringos!" and terminates shipments to the U.S. Obama dispatches Joseph Kennedy III to talk to Chávez, who demands a public apology and a talk show on CNN. An enraged mob tears down the Citgo sign outside Fenway Park. After weeks of negotiation—between Kennedy and Chávez, and between Obama and various U.S. and British oilmen—there is another coup attempt, this time successful. Obama sends a multinational force to Caracas "to keep the peace." Conservative writers ask: "Whatever happened to national sovereignty?" Obama's poll numbers, previously in the single digits, rise significantly.

May 7, 2010:

Ancient rumors that Obama wasn't born on U.S. soil are revived when bloggers circulate grainy images of a young Luo tribesman who bears a striking resemblance to the president. Some assert that the real Barack Obama was switched with this boy by his father as some kind of multicultural experiment. Prominent right-wing citizen-journalists, funded by PayPal donations, hire Geraldo Rivera to scour Kenya for evidence.

July 7, 2010:

Drudge posts video of John McCain, not seen since his beating, giving a speech at a Phoenix Chamber of Commerce luncheon. McCain slurs his words, sings a little of the Novas' 1964 hit "The Crusher," and lurches between passages from his 2008 campaign speeches and dirty limericks. Bloggers suggest senile dementia. "Senile or not, he's a better man than President Hussein Obama," says California senator Bo Derek. Seventy percent of Gallup Poll respondents agree.

November 2, 2010:

Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress by wide margins. Led by California congressman-elect Michael Savage, they promise to impeach the president as soon as they're sworn in. At an election-night press conference, a shaken Obama promises to "listen to the voice of the people." Most TV stations cut him off to cover the victory celebration of one of the few Democratic survivors, Senator Clinton, who tells a cheering crowd that "our long national nightmare will soon be over."

November 19, 2010:

President Obama holds private talks with House Speaker Savage. Two days later, the Republicans introduce a flurry of bills, including the Welfare Prohibition Act, the Freedom From Eco-TerrorismAct, and a Proclamation of a National Day of Mourning for Terry Schiavo. Obama signs them all. Rush Limbaugh is on hand to receive a ceremonial pen.

November 21, 2010:

At the traditional presentation of the Thanksgiving turkey, Obama says he will not issue the customary presidential pardon, and will instead have the bird slaughtered and served at a White House dinner with Speaker Savage and various prominent clergy.

May 1, 2011: Large demonstrations are held in several American cities to protest the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Monaco, Peru, and Zimbabwe. Republicans deplore the financial drain of the occupations. Hillary Clinton addresses an anti-war gathering in Central Park to thunderous applause: "All we are saying," she tells the crowd, "is give peace a chance." Later, she is photographed playing hacky sack with students on the Columbia quad.

July 18, 2011:

President Obama begins a four-week "working vacation" in Honolulu, where he does a lot of hiking with his family, oversees the groundwork for his presidential library, and grows a mustache. He keeps a hand in the country's affairs via BlackBerry and is visited by former president George W. Bush, with whom he is photographed laughing, smoking, and drinking out of hollowed-out pineapples.

December 7, 2011:

Upon his return from Hawaii, President Obama announces that he won't run for re-election in 2012, and begins quietly pulling troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Peru. Americans preoccupied by runaway inflation and falling wages barely react to the news, and only military contractors complain.

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