August 19, 2011
Portrait Of The President As A Young Man
The Scene: A fancy restaurant in Chicago, February 2001. Barack Obama and his pregnant wife Michelle are seated at a candlelit table, sharing a fancy dinner. Barack clears his throat, reaches across the table, and takes Michelle's hand.
BARACK: Listen, honey, I've been thinking. It's the beginning of the Bush years, things are going to get tough. We've got a two-year old child, and we're expecting another baby in July. You've got to stop buying clothes.
BARACK: Don't think this is all gonna fall just on you -- I'm not gonna keep my gold clubs.
BARACK: Look, we're just starting a family, we've got all these new expenses, so we're gonna have to make some choices.
MICHELLE: [pauses, focuses on him]: Like what?
BARACK: Well, we're gonna keep putting money into the college fund, but we have to stop eating fancy dinners anytime we want.
MICHELLE [puts her hand over Barack's]: Barack, honey, you're a member of the Illinois Senate; you're a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and of counsel to Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland; you're on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, the Joyce Foundation, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. You've already written your autobiography and it got great reviews. Don't worry, honey, we're gonna make it.
BARACK: Oh, I know -- this is America. I could be president eight years from now. But here's what I wanted to say: let's figure out what are the things that are going to be important to our family to make sure it succeeds not just now but in the long term.
MICHELLE: Is what you're saying, "let's invest in those things and let's stop investing in the things that don't work"?
BARACK: Exactly. I don't want us to look back some day and ask why we didn't change the failed policies that got our family into a mess.
MICHELLE: I love it when you talk policy to me.
BARACK: I'm serious, Michelle.
MICHELLE: Barack, listen -- everyone will be getting a 10 percent across-the-board tax cut later this year. The banks are calling us every day begging us to buy a home so they can loan us some money. Tony Rezko says he'll help us find a nice property. We've already got the down payment put away from the proceeds of your book.
BARACK: I know, but I don't want to be in a position where, if there is ever a crisis, we let it go to waste.
MICHELLE: I like it that you're so focused on winning the future. [Lifts her eyes, tilts her chin upward, and looks off into the distance]. Do you think there will ever come a time in my adult life when I will be proud of my country? Do you think the oceans will ever start to recede? Do you think we will we be able to keep our health plan if we like it?
BARACK: I could run for president.
MICHELLE: I'm serious, Barack.
BARACK: Let me be clear: so am I. I'm not going to stand around, sippin' a Slurpee, waiting for a recession that might hit us suddenly seven years from now. I am the one I've been waiting for.
MICHELLE: Don't you think you should do some more stuff first? I dunno, give a speech at a convention, run for federal office, serve a couple years?
BARACK: This is our moment. This is our time. This is-
MICHELLE: Now you're just talking silly. You can't run for president. What happens if they ever get a hold of your college transcript? Or your [raises her hands and makes air quotes] "law review article." Or the tape of your speech that evening at Rashid's. You know as well as I do what happens when you speak extemporaneously -- what are you going to do, haul a Teleprompter around with you?
BARACK: Look, I don't want to spend my life being a mayor, run for mayor again, get elected governor, do a lot of good stuff for the state for a couple years, and wait for someone to pick me to be on the national ticket -- in the number two spot. You make a good point about giving a speech first, but I'm ready now. Rahm says all I need is a catchy slogan, a video, and a crease in my pants. He says the misty-eyed media will handle the rest.
MICHELLE: Do you even have a slogan yet?
BARACK: What do you think of "Change and Hope for the Best"?
MICHELLE: [Looks long at him but does not speak].
BARACK: Maybe I'll have Ayers polish that up a little. Or Reverend Wright - wouldn't that be great if he were to give the invocation at the inauguration?
MICHELLE: [Takes a sip of wine]: I just felt a tingle go up my leg. Okay -- I'll stop buying clothes -- and you get rid of those clubs. It will make a great story some day.
"Anonymous" is a pen name. The writer says it would be unfair to take credit for this, because "it wrote itself."
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