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

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Biden White House – A Never-Never Land Of Fairy Tales, Happy Endings, And The Sweet Garden Of Office

Joe Biden woke up one morning as happy as he had ever been in his whole life.  The sun was pouring in to the Presidential bedroom, Jill was in the boudoir putting the last touches on her make up, George the butler was at the door with tea and toast, and the air was rich with the perfumed scent of lilacs picked from the Presidential garden.  “Ah, life is wonderful”, he said.

“What did you say, dear?”, said his wife.

Joe repeated what he had said and added, “Today we are going to do glorious things for the American people.  Truly great things”.

“Yes, sweetheart”, Jill replied. “I’m sure you will”.

She humored him on mornings when he woke up cranky.  Yesterday, for example, he was particularly scratchy, mumbling something about ‘that Harris woman’, tipping over his tea on the duvet and jumping up like a man on fire.  His Vice President had been a bit more uppity than usual, barging into the Oval Office demanding face time over some racial issue or other.  She was always barging in for that matter, feeling that ‘a heartbeat from the Presidency’ meant joined at the hip, blood brother and sister, togetherness. 

Today was one of Joe’s good days, days when he was swept by sweet dreams and idyllic visions.  It wasn’t exactly that he saw things or imagined them; just that his transformation was as childlike as a fairy tale.  He spoke of fragrant gardens, blue skies, posies, jumping rope, white picket fences, and faithful dogs; and his face shone with a look of pure bliss.   

On those mornings Jill knew that she would have to keep a close watch on him, for the vision did not pass quickly.  Neither the brusque aides who met him at the breakfast table with briefing papers; nor the frowning Chief of Staff who made him focus on the day’s appointments and events; nor the intrusion of you know who could shake his reverie. He would sign whatever they put before him, happy as a lark doing the job of President of the United States.

His acolytes saw this coming, of course; and when they saw the beatific smile and his rosy cheeks, they were quick to get their pet projects in front of him.  “Bobby”, the President said when his National Security Advisor burst into the Oval Office waving a sheaf of papers like Zeus shaking a fistful of lightening.  “Mr. President”, he said, coming so close that Joe could smell his nasty cologne, “the Iranians are at it again”.

Now Iran was one of the President’s favorite topics because he was fond of Persian fairy tales, especially The Gardener and the Little Bird

Once upon a time in the city of Balkh there lived a rich man who had a beautiful garden. This garden was quite fairylike in its loveliness. There were many different kinds of sweet-smelling plants, flow- ers like the flowers of paradise and trees which in season were laden with delicious fruits. A mischievous little bird was attracted to this beautiful garden and he amused himself by picking off the fruit, whether it was ripe or not, and letting it fall upon the ground. The gardener who tended this beautiful garden was sorely grieved whenever he saw the fruit lying on the ground and realized the damage that was being done. His heart, usually uplifted with joy whenever he looked upon the garden for which he cared, was filled with sorrow.

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Joe always cried when he read this story, for he was taken back to his happy childhood days in Delaware where he had lived in a modest, but well-kept house with a small garden tended by his mother and her two sisters.  Like the garden in the Persian fairy tale, his mother’s garden in late spring and summer was fragrant, lovely, and rich.  He used to sit under the apple tree, smell its blossoms, and let them fall down on his head and shoulders when a soft breeze rustled the flowers. 

“Now, Bobby”, the President said to the National Security Advisor, his mind still filled with the verses of The Gardener and the Little Bird, “the Iranians can’t be all that bad”.  How could they be when these delightful stories were so profound with allegory and human understanding?  Iranians' current errant ways were nothing but temporary diversions from the truth.

“But Mr. President”, the Advisor insisted, “nuclear weapons are definitely that bad”; and with that he reeled off one statistic after another about detonation, warhead carrying capacity, launch angles, and penetration.  The President, however, was unmoved and only said, “Listen to this”, and he picked up the book of Persian fairy tales and read:

Now, Mihrab had a daughter, Rudabeh, whose loveliness was widely acclaimed. It soon came to Zal’s ears that this Princess, with skin whiter than ivory, hair dark as toe raven’s wing, and cheeks rosy as a pomegranate flower, was living in the fortress- like palace of the town, and very naturally he longed to see her, but he resolved to put the thought from his mind as he knew that the King of Persia would be angry were he to accept hospitality from a descendant of the wicked Zohak.

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Joe paused and smiling, looked up at his National Security Advisor. “See, this is what I mean”, he said. “The King of Persia sees that the beauty of Rudabeh is irresistible. No man can turn his eyes away from such loveliness; and far be it from him, a mere mortal although king, to deny the entreaties of an honest man".

The National Security Advisor looked puzzled.  What had this to do with anything? “I see you are bemused, for allegory is hard sometimes”.  He took the National Security Advisor by the shoulders, looked him right in the eyes, and smiled. “This is a story of regency, and I am regent here; and my policies to help the common man aspire to and fulfill his desire for happiness are what my presidency is all about”.

“But sir…”, the National Security Advisor stuttered, “The missiles…”

“Don’t you worry about a thing, Bobby”, the President said.  “I will take care of everything”.

The President gave his National Security Advisor a warm embrace, showed him to the door, straightened his desk and his tie, and welcomed the First Lady who had been waiting in the wings.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything important”, she said.

“No, dear, only some flapdoodle about Iran, nothing to worry about”.

Jill always checked in with her husband on days like today when he woke up dreamy. She knew, especially when she saw the book of Persian fairy tales on the coffee table and the trailing scent of the National Security Advisor’s frightful cologne, that the President had been having one of his ‘out of body’ days.  His mind was working fine, nothing the matter there.  It was just that it parsed the wrong texts.  Briefing papers not fairy tales were the stock in trade of the Oval Office.

The next morning the President woke up scratchy and petulant.  This would be a good day, Jill thought.  He’s back to his old self; and so he was, weeding through the odd white paper, listening as attentively as possible to those who sought decisions or approval, and speaking to his Cabinet. 

Jill noticed that ironically he was far more logical and consistent in the interpretation of his parables than he was when trying to make sense of the budget or transgenderism.  He made no sense there at all until his closest aides at the encouragement of Jill, permitted no ad libs from their boss. In any public forum not only was he to stay on message, he was to read it. 

However recently waves of Persian fantasy swept into even his most considered and dutiful moments. He went off on a tangent, reciting verses from his best-loved stories.  His handlers had become quite adept at stemming the tide, and thanks to loyalists planted in the audience to interrupt, a la Prime Minister’s Question Time, they got the President back on course.

As time went on, the President’s swings of logic were more frequent; and some in the Cabinet suggested that he should be left to his fairy tale allegories.  At least there he made sense – internal logic, if you will.

It was at this time that ‘that Harris woman’ stepped up to the plate and asserted herself. It was not exactly a palace coup, but a bloodless arrogation of power nonetheless.  Most of the President’s staff stood by.  Even the Harris woman would be better than a failing Joe Biden; but of course in due time they saw what they had wrought.  

She made plenty of sense all right, but the wrong kind, and her howls for the weirdest reforms of American society since Salem assured Republican victory, after which she became supernumerary and unemployable, but took a director’s position at one of Washington’s progressive think tanks where, since she made as little sense as Joe Biden on his best days, was consigned to a ceremonial role.

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