"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Kindergarten In The Oval Office–Kamala, Joe, And Kiddie Food Fights

It always took too long for the meetings in the Oval Office between the President and Vice President to get started.  They both had to go through an Alphonse and Gaston routine of polite insistence, and by the time they had congratulated themselves on their initiatives, insight, innovation, and leadership, the minions around the table began to tap their toes.  

Kamala was anxious to get off the mark, but in these early days of the Biden presidency as she gradually asserted herself, she knew that keeping her own counsel and serving her Commander-in-Chief warm intellectual Pablum was the way to go.  Biden on the other hand was quite willing to have Kamala take charge of all meetings and get him off the hook.  These days he was having difficulty following the script and off-message ad lib comments always led him into the thick weeds of Foggy Bottom.

Image result for images Alphonse and Gaston

So the first ten minutes of every meeting were a combination of vaudevillian routines and Mauritanian truck salutes on the Nouakchott- Nouadhibou road ( “Alhamdulillah, Al-ḥamdu l-illāhi rabbi l-ʿālamīn…et la famille? et le travail?  Alhamdulillah) or a tennis baseline tennis toe-to-toe with both players waiting for an opening. 

The minions, even after only six months in office, had tired of Biden’s fumbling and deer-in-the-headlights vacant stares. ‘Let the bitch have her way’ was the most complimentary comment in the men’s room after a particularly tedious meeting; and yet there was something leavening about the grand guignol repartee between the two highest officials in the land – two highly underqualified politicians caught in a Punch and Judy show without even knowing it.

Biden had early on named Vice President Harris as the point person on the border.  He, at the insistence of his progressive Congressional lackeys, was reluctant to call it a crisis – ‘an issue in emergence’ was the way he was told to put it – but if there was no crisis in Nuevo Laredo there certainly was in the West Wing where everyone wanted to get a word in edgewise and everyone was jostling for position around the newly named Border Czar, the Vice President. 

Since the President had been fooled into an open border policy on the grounds of compassion, inclusivity, diversity, and childcare and was now befuddled with the thousands of illegal immigrants who sent their children on ahead and followed with tales of torture, abuse, and neglect, he quickly looked around the room for help.

Image result for images kamala in el paso

No one had a clue as to what to do.  There is no way to stop water pouring over the Grand Coulee dam once it has started, so the discussions in the Oval Office were like kindergarten recess, a lot of pushing and shoving with nothing ever really decided.

Which is why at the beginning of every meeting on the border issue, the President immediately turned to his Vice President.  After all, he had picked her not because she was any great shakes on immigration policy, but because she loved being out front on the issue – any issue for that matter – and all problems seem to resolve themselves anyway, so why not give her a whirl.

Once they got through the Alphonse and Gaston routine and the Vice President finally took charge of the meeting, the President was able to take his now accustomed seat in the Kennedy rocking chair and dream of childhood summers on the beach at Rehoboth.  

Ah, those were the days, he reminisced while Kamala was trying to give some spine to the increasingly wobbly arguments for open immigration.  ‘You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days’, he thought – sparkling, fresh, the smell of Coppertone and coconut oil in the air, lithesome, sweet girls from Wilmington down for the day, hot dogs and fries on the boardwalk.

Image result for images kennedy rocking chair

For some reason the Vice President insisted on waking him from his reveries.  “I gave her the job so I wouldn’t be bothered”, he thought, “and now look”. 

“What do you think, Mr. President”, she would ask; and he would simply repeat his now familiar mantra, “I concur”.  Although he could not manage to get through but a few pages of the briefing papers prepared for the Oval Office meetings, he knew that whatever he said was not going to change Kamala’s mind, although he had as little idea what went on her head as in his own these days.  

In any case, the situation couldn’t get any worse, and it would probably go away or be forgotten.  And what was the problem, anyway?  He and Jill had employed Antonio (the President never knew his last name) to cut the lawn and trim the bushes on their Wilmington property since way back, before the days when legality was on the table and when hiring a hardworking family man was good enough.

Image result for Images DiCaprio Catch Me If You Can I Concur. Size: 204 x 204. Source: www.scoopnest.com

To get rid of these bloody all-morning merry-go-round meetings (not only were they boring and fussy, her perfume was cloying and even with the air conditioning on ‘Fresh Air’ it made him queasy) he sent her to the border.  Well, not the border exactly, but to El Paso, close enough to the action but not too close to provoke any messy situations.  At the very least she would be out of the office for a few days and otherwise occupied. Finally he would be left alone to his fawning minions who never gave him any grief.

The border thing was so successful in getting tricky issues off his plate and onto the Vice President’s, that he piled more on – the digital divide, the gender spectrum, and the cancel culture were but a few.  As she took on more and more assignments for which she was ill-suited and –prepared, she began to make the same gaffes and stumbles as her boss.  “I guess in my enthusiasm to serve the American people”, she said, “I bit off more than I could chew”.

She respectfully asked the President if others more qualified than she could take over some of the now burdensome responsibilities of office.  Biden politely refused, for by getting Kamala on top of things meant that she would not be underfoot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; and more importantly, she would be the one to take the flak over poorly thought-out and –devised policies. 

Unfortunately the Oval Office meetings were still necessary as much as he had shooed Kamala to Texas and Grand Junction.  Because he filled his Cabinet on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity and not necessarily competence, each identity group hire wanted their say.  So the black woman, the transgender man, the small person, the Latino farm worker, and the union boss all clambered to get their point across which resulted in a kindergarten shouting match.  Without enforcer Harris to trim them into line, the squabbles went on forever. 

See the source image

So, poor Uncle Joe in Kamala’s absence, could not rock away in the Kennedy rocker, but had to be front and center for the discussions on infrastructure, finance, taxation, and regulation while the mayhem continued unabated.  His years as a Senator from Delaware and his role as back-seat amanuensis to a very public and visible Obama prepared him for nothing of the sort; and given his shaky memory and agility with facts, the meetings were a mess.

“Where is that woman?”, shouted the President over the din as a large black woman – he thought it must be his Undersecretary for Health and Human Services – banged on the table, tore her briefing papers into shreds and threw them into the air like a ticker tape parade on lower Broadway. “Can’t nobody listen?”, she shouted, but was muscled aside by another woman – someone or other from Justice – who yelled ‘Reconciliation! Reconciliation!’ until she was hoarse; and just when the President thought things could get no worse, who walks in but the Vice President.

“What have we here?”, she said looking like an angry Genghis Khan unhappy with the day’s take, her brow furrowed, her eyes blazing, and her arms akimbo.  “Quiet, please!”, she announced “or I will have to clear the room. “

“But it’s my room”, said the President. “It’s the people’s room”.

Kamala called for the President’s praetorian guard whose presence chastened the crowed.  The big black woman who had not seen their entry kept on fulminating, something about black lives and Mt. Rushmore, but her voice trailed off as the room quieted by quarter – first the Rosa Parks corner, filled with memorabilia of her civil disobedience (bus ticket stubs, torn upholstery), then the Birdie Tibbets alcove (Birdie was the first woman to defy the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado and sit in on a rocky outcrop overlooking the site for a new nickel smelter on the rich bottom land of Paonia Valley, and finally to Billups Way, the window seat overlooking the Rose Garden festooned in honor of Poldark Billups, a country cracker who had stood up for clean water in his West Virginia holler and was tarred and feathered by white rednecks for it.

Image result for pope's praetorian guard

“Where was that woman anyway?”, asked the President, forgetting that he had sent the Vice President out to Silicon Valley to talk sense into young Googlers  about affirmative action.  “Too many goddam Asians”, he shouted before remembering that his Vice President was half Asian although she preferred to bury that side.  “Sorry, Kamala, not you”.

Of course Silicon Valley refused to be bullied, especially by a former California politician who had tried without much success to slam them with Justice Department trust-busting, and /Vice President or no, they sent her packing.

“This was not what I expected”, said the President remembering the quiet, halcyon days in the back rooms of the Obama White House.  “Just a sticky patch”, he mumbled as the room returned to order.

The press of course never referred to the Oval Office brouhaha.  They had extended Biden’s political honeymoon and were still treating him like a sweet quinceañera.  It would take a lot more than some minor internal disagreement for them to report it as an issue.  From that moment on the Praetorian Guard was doubled outside the Oval Office for all meetings of more than two people, and for a while that show of force worked.

Image result for image quinceanera party

“It’s not going my way”, said the Vice President to an aide.  “By now I should have been in complete control, and all I do is either hit the road to nowhere or preside over cackle parties.  I’m sick of it”.  Her sycophants were quick to calm her down, to counsel temperance and patience.  It wouldn’t be long before the President would have no idea of who he was let alone where, and she could step in lively.

“So how was your day at the office, dear?”, asked Joe’s wife as he crawled into bed.  “Oh, you know, comme si,, comme ca”, and with that he turned out the light, turned over, and went to sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.