A one-act play performed by President Obama and his top advisers. The setting is the White House kitchen table. Its 11 p.m. on July 30, 2009. Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley departed hours earlier.
Now President Obama, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council Adviser Larry Summers, OMB Director Peter Orszag and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sit around drinking the leftover beer. They are all a little tipsy.
Obama: Well, alls well that ends well. I couldnt believe that we managed to get Skip and the cop to hug each other for the cameras. Is the photo up on Huffington Post yet?
Emanuel: Not yet, but I just spoke to Arianna.
Obama: Hey, Tim. How come youre not drinking your beer? Your bad mood is getting me down.
Geithner: (Taking a sip and sighing) Well, its the Chinese. They really roughed me up when they were in town earlier this week. With $800 billion in our Treasurys, theyre now calling all the shots. Just look at the beer theyre making me drink. (He holds up a bottle of Tsingtao and looks at Orszag.) Peter, you better not let me down with that budget.
Orszag: (robotically but cheerfully) Hakuna matata, Tim. Hakuna, matata. Remember the $100 million budget cutting challenge from last Aprils Cabinet meeting? We already got that one nailed. You cant believe the savings you get from double-sided copying. (pauses meditatively). Hmmm maybe Congress should pass a law requiring double-sided copying. All those trees ..Ill ask the CBO to score it.
Emanuel: Thats a great idea! Nancy will love it. The Sierra Club will love it. But well have to make sure it only applies to households earning at least $250,000 a year.
Geithner: (angry, in a shaking voice) Peter, Rahm, will you wake up! What about the $3.1 trillion deficit were running this year and next? The Chinese are freaking out. Didnt you see the lousy results of yesterdays Treasury auctions?
Orszag: Oh, that deficit? That will get much worse. Tim, you know it has to. Ten percent unemployment. No tax revenues. Much, much worse .but, hey, its not my fault. The forecasts we were given never made any sense.
(Orszag looks at Obama and silently motions his head in the direction of Larry Summers. Summers is slumped over and snoring)
But dont worry I put off the mid-session budget revision until mid-August. Nobody will notice. Everybody will be on vacation in the Hamptons or Marthas Vineyard.
Geithner: Not me. I cant afford it. I still cant unload my house in Westchester. (Mumbling into his beer) We really have to gin up that mortgage modification program.
Emanuel: No worries, Tim. Barneys on top of that already.
Obama: You know, Rahm. I still dont understand why were so dependent on Barney and Nancy and the rest of your old friends. This health-care thing is not looking too good. And once Peters deficit numbers come out .Were screwed.
(The rest of the cast freezes. Spotlight on Obama. He stands up and looks at the audience.)
Wait, let me calibrate those words differently