Let Me Be Clear: Changing the Subject

“Never really liked trees,” Bob grumbled as he raked leaves.

“Hey, Bob!” President Obama exclaimed as he walked up to the yard.

Bob couldn’t help but laugh. “Wow, you’ve been really popular lately, haven’t you?”

“Probably because everyone has heard about my big new plans to take on climate change.”

“Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the huge debacle of your Obamacare launch.”

“No… I think people have moved on from that to–”

“Oh no; no one has moved on from that giant disaster,” Bob said. “It’s going to be the text book case of government incompetence for the next century.”

“Well, anyway, my plans for climate change are–”

“And then there’s your lies about everyone being able to keep their health care plan being exposed,” Bob continued.

Obama shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. “I didn’t lie. I just meant–”

“Yeah, you made it really clear,” Bob said. “‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.’ I mean, you left no wiggle room — even though you knew at the time it was a complete lie.”

“Well, I think people will be happy with the Affordable Care Act when–”

Bob chuckled. “This is just too much. I mean, people might put up with lying or gross incompetence, but with both of them together at this magnitude… wow.”

“Well… uh… So I was talking about doing stuff about climate change,” Obama said. “I’ll probably upset whole industries with my regulations. Do you agree with that?”

Bob shook his head. “No.”

“So I bet you want to make a big deal about it.”

Bob thought about that. “No… I’m still pretty busy making fun of you over Obamacare.”

“I’m also thinking about taking on immigration reform,” Obama said.

Bob went back to raking leaves. “Good for you.”

“It’s basically going to be amnesty,” Obama quickly added. “I’m just going to let anyone be citizens, no matter what laws they break. As long as they vote Democrat, of course.”

Bob dropped his rake. “Come on! You can’t!…” Bob paused for a second. “Oh, I see what you’re doing; you’re trying to make me angry about another issue so I’ll stop talking about your lying and incompetence over Obamacare.” Bob picked back up his rake. “No deal.”

Obama pulled his cigarette lighter out of his suit pocket and then lit a pile of leaves on fire on Bob’s lawn.

“What did you just do?!” Bob yelled.

“Uh oh. A fire on your lawn,” Obama said. “Could burn your whole house down. Better deal with that instead of attacking me on health care.”

Bob looked at the fire long and hard. Finally, he turned to Obama. “No, I’d still rather make fun of you.”

Obama hung his head. “Good call.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Let It Burn

“Hey, Bob!” shouted President Obama as he barged into Bob’s office.

Bob put his head in his hands. “Come on. I’m really busy right now.”

“I just wanted to warn you that the Obamacare website has some glitches,” Obama said.

“I’m not using your stupid website,” Bob said. “I’m just having to deal with the health insurance plans my company was using being dropped.”

Obama smiled. “Yeah, Obamacare really shook things up.”

Bob nodded. “Like a toddler stumbling into a house of cards.”

“Anyway, I want to show you something,” Obama said.

“I said I’m busy.”

“Well…” Obama walked towards Bob and then quickly threw a hood over his head.

* * * *

“Did you just kidnap me?” Bob asked, uneasily getting out of a car with a hood over his head.

“I taxed you,” Obama answered. “Justice Roberts says I can do anything as long as I call it a tax.” Obama pulled the hood off. In front of Bob was a large building with smoke coming out of the windows. “This is the Obamacare headquarters!” Obama announced. “If people are having trouble with the website — or the phone which I guess is also not really working — they can come here to sign up for insurance!”

“The building is on fire,” Bob stated.

“Well… yeah… the light and heat in the building has gone a bit out of control. You see, the electricity didn’t work and so it was dark and cold in there, thus we started some fires. Biden was in charge of that and, well, you know… Anyway, still, it’s a great building. Only cost us $1.2 billion dollars; a bargain.”

Bob stared a moment at the smiling Obama. “You don’t know how money works, do you?”

“Anyway, while I think some people with pre-existing conditions are signing up for Obamacare despite the little difficulties — which is great — what we really need is young healthy people to sign up. So, Bob, I need people like you to help convince those young healthy people to come here and sign up.”

Bob looked at the building for a moment. “You want me to convince young health people to walk into a burning building to sign up for health insurance they don’t really need and can’t afford?”

“Well, they kind of have to,” Obama said. “If we don’t get more of them to sign up, the whole thing collapses or something. I don’t really get the economics of this, but my people keep telling me its those young healthy people we need to sign up.”

“I think we’re all aware you don’t get the economics of this.” Bob looked at the building again. “Has anyone called the fire department?”

“Um… none of us here have phones.”

“Of course not.”

“What is the number for the fire department? 1-800-HELP-FIRE… or is that too many digits? Anyway, could you call them for us?”

Bob took his phone out of his pocket and considered that for a moment. Then he turned and began to leave. “Eh, let it burn.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Shutdown

“Well, we need to watch that show,” Deborah said. “It’s filling up the DVR.”

“Maybe that’s an indication we don’t actually like that show and should stop watching it,” Bob suggested.

“Yeah, but we’ve been with it for five seasons now.”

“Well… sometimes you just have to let it go.”

Someone started pounding on the door. Bob got off the sofa. “Who could it be at this hour?” He went to the front door and opened it to see President Obama. “Oh no.”

Obama looked panicked. “So how are you guys surviving the shutdown?”

“Like most Americans, we don’t really care,” Bob answered.

Obama nodded. “You’re trying to stay strong; I get it.” Obama pushed his way inside. He then noticed a framed picture hanging on the wall. “Is that the Grand Canyon?”

“Yes,” Bob said. “A couple years ago–”

Obama pulled the picture off the wall and threw it to the ground. “That’s a national park. You can’t have that up during a shutdown.”

Bob raised an eyebrow. “What?”

Obama started stomping the picture frame. “Only money for essentials during a shutdown, so no looking at the Grand Canyon.”

“We have kids sleeping upstairs!” Deborah shouted under her breath.

Obama nodded. “Yep. The shutdown is awful. You better pressure those Republicans to end it. I told them I’d negotiate if they first give me everything I want.”

“Do you even know what the word negotiate means?” Bob asked.

“If you’re so concerned about the shutdown,” Deborah said, “why don’t you just delay Obamacare since judging from the website you aren’t ready to implement it anyway.”

“We are ready!” Obama yelled. “The site has a few glitches, but that’s expected since website are kind of a new thing.”

“You need to face it: Your health care thing is a big failure,” Bob said, “and now you’re just lashing out and randomly trying to make people suffer during this shutdown because you can’t deal with that.”

Obama stared at Bob a long while. He then went over to a bookshelf and knocked it over, spilling the books everywhere. “Because of the shutdown your bookshelf fell over.”

A baby started crying upstairs. “Oh, that’s it!” Deborah shouted. She then grabbed a broom and started swatting at Obama. “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

“I won’t negotiate!” Obama yelled back. “I get what I want! I– stop hitting me!” Obama ran out of the house.

“I think there’s a law against hitting the president with a broom,” Bob told Deborah.

Deborah set the broom down. “If so, it’s a silly law.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Loving It

“So, Lily, do you understand why lying is wrong,” Bob asked his little daughter.

She stared at the floor. “Yes.”

“We’re very disappointed,” Bob’s wife Deborah added.

The doorbell rang. Bob hesitantly went to answer it.

“Hi, Bob!” exclaimed a smiling president Obama. “Are you busy?”

Bob tried to come up with an excuse, but he didn’t think of one quickly enough. “What do you need, Mr. President?”

“I’m just going around seeing how I’m improving everyone’s lives,” Obama said, letting himself in.

“Are you sure you couldn’t do that better from afar?” Bob asked. He then noticed a bunch of union workers mulling around outside. “What are they here for?”

“Don’t mind them.” Obama looked to Deborah and Lily. “Hi, ladies. Don’t worry your abortions are safe.”

Deborah looked very unamused. “That’s great.”

“What’s an abortion?” Lily asked.

Obama kneeled down to see Lily eye to eye. “Well, it’s this wonderful thing where–”

Bob pulled Obama back to standing. “Please don’t.”

“So what are you up to?” Obama asked, looking around. He then saw a number of papers laid out on a coffee table. “Oh, looking over health plans! Obamacare is going into full effect soon! Everyone is going to love it! Are you excited?”

Bob sighed. “It’s like Christmas in October.”

Obama picked up a sheet of paper. “What’s this?”

“That’s the plan we currently have,” Bob said. “We really like that one.”

Obama shook his head. “It’s too good. We need you to get a cheaper plan.”

“But didn’t at the start of this whole Obamacare thing,” Deborah said, “you told everyone that if they liked their plan, they could keep it?”

Obama shrugged. “I say lots of things. You can’t honestly expect me to keep track of all the things I say.”

“When you say something that isn’t true,” Lily told the president, “that’s lying and it’s bad.”

Obama stared at the little girl a moment and then looked at Bob. “Your daughter is out of control; do something about her.”

“I might have to back her up on this one and–” Bob was interrupted by Lily crying. Bob looked around to see a horrible, taut visage smiling at him. Nancy Pelosi.

“I invited Nancy Pelosi to help tell everyone how great Obamacare is,” Obama said.

“I’m sure she’ll be as influential as you are,” Bob answered as he watched Lily run off to the kitchen.

“Obamacare is going to be great!” Pelosi exclaimed. “Are you all excited?”

“We’d really rather you left our insurance alone,” Deborah said.

“Oh no; you’re going to love it,” Pelosi said.

“What about it are we going to love?” Bob asked.

Pelosi looked confused. “I don’t really know what’s in it yet. We’re still figuring it out. But that’s what makes it so great; it’s like a wrapped present or a pinata or… uh…”

“Time bomb,” Bob suggested.

“Don’t be silly; it’s going to be great and you’re going to love it,” Pelosi said. “I can’t wait for it. I mean, my staff and I are exempt from it, but I’m sure I’ll know it’s working from the smiling face–”

Pelosi was interrupted by Lily throwing a glass of water on Pelosi. “Lily!” Bob shouted. Lily ran back for the kitchen. Bob then noticed the union works coming into their house carrying buckets of paint. “What’s going on?”

“We’re so happy to improve everyone’s lives with Obamacare,” Obama explained, “we’re now going to try and help in other areas too.”

“Are they going to paint the walls?” Deborah asked, looking panicked.

“Yes!” Obama answered. “You’re going to love it.”

Deborah looked warily at the buckets of paint. “What color is it?”

“We have to put the paint on your walls to find out what color it is,” Pelosi said.

Deborah looked at the president. “I don’t want this!”

“Well, if you like your current house color, you can keep it,” Obama assured her.

“I want to keep it!”

A union worked started slapping a sickly-looking green on the wall. “Too late!” Obama said. “We started; might as well finish.”

Deborah clutched her face. “This is horrible.”

“It might look a little odd now,” Pelosi told her. “But once it’s all done, I’m sure you’ll love it. Why–”

Lily ran up and threw another glass of water on Pelosi.

“Lily, no!” Bob yelled.

Lily stared at Pelosi for a couple seconds and then ran back for the kitchen.

Bob turned to Obama. “I want a stop to this now.”

“Or what?” Obama laughed. “You’ll shut down the government? Come on. This is great; you love it.”

Deborah noticed union workers picking up her couch. “What’s going on now?”

“New furniture!” Pelosi exclaimed. “Isn’t that wonderful?”

“I don’t want knew furniture,” Deborah pleaded with Obama.

“Well, if you want your old couch, you can keep it,” Obama promised her.

“I. Want. To. Keep. It,” Deborah said very carefully.

“Too late!” Obama said. “They already set it on fire on your front lawn. But that couch was too excessive anyway. We’re going to get you a nice futon — once the futon exchange is set up. You’re loving this, aren’t you?”

“Isn’t this the best thing ever?” Pelosi smiled to the point it looked like her face would break. “Isn’t it wonderful? We’re all–”

Lily ran over and threw another glass of water on Pelosi. She stared at Pelosi a couple seconds and then frowned. “It’s not working!”

“Lily, stop trying to melt the minority leader!” Bob yelled.

“Why don’t you go upstairs before they try and replace you,” Deborah said.

“You have to stop this all now!” Bob said to Obama firmly as Pelosi went to find a towel.

Obama frowned. “I’m helping; I’m making things better.”

“If people say they don’t want your help,” Bob said. “Maybe you should listen.”

“That’s stupid,” Obama answered. “You can’t help people by listening to them.”

“And why do you think that?”

Obama frowned and looked to the ground. “Because all people say is for me to leave them alone.”

Bob put his hand on Obama’s shoulder. “That’s because you’re horrible at everything and the best way you could help people would be to find some field far out of everyone’s way, dig a hole there, and then sit in that hole and stay there.”

“Bob!” Deborah chided him.

“I’m just trying to be honest with him. He needs to–” Bob yelped in pain. “You stepped on my foot!”

Obama smiled. “You love that!”

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Let Me Be Clear: Doing Something

Bob disassembled his 1911 and went to cleaning the barrel. There was always something zen about cleaning his guns… at least until President Obama appeared at the door to his den. “Oh, come on.”

Obama’s face was very serious. “There’s some important matters we need to discuss.”

Bob continued to clean his gun. “If I appear to be ignoring you, that’s just how I listen.”

“So, I’ve been reading your emails–”

“You’re not supposed to be reading my emails,” Bob said firmly.

Obama looked confused for a moment and then continued. “So I’ve been reading your emails, and I found out that you seem to own various firearms.” Obama motioned to the guns on Bob’s desk.

“Well, I’m… How do I explain this.” Bob thought for a moment. “I’m an American. Do you know know what that is?”

Obama laughed. “Now, I want you to know that I am a supporter of guns and their use in hunting and sports.”

“And what about their use for actual important things like self-defense and a hedge against tyranny?”

Obama hesitated. “Well…”

“Mr. President,” Bob said firmly, “I know this might disappoint you, but I’m not interested in talking about guns with you. At all.”

“This is important, though,” Obama said. “There have been a number of mass shootings, and something must be done.”

“How about you get rid of those gun free zones that make mass shootings so easy?” Bob suggested.

Obama laughed. “You’re funny. No, I’m thinking of more regulations on your guns here.”

Bob sighed. “Well, when I bought these guns, I signed an agreement saying I wouldn’t use them in mass shootings, so you don’t have to worry.”

Obama looked serious. “This is a grave matter, Bob. People are dying.”

Bob nodded. “Of which my guns have nothing to do with.”

“Well, why do you have this one?” Obama asked, pointing at the AR-15 on Bob’s desk. “I can tell by the big handle on it it’s very deadly and made for killing people. Why do you really need a gun like that?”

Bob smiled. “Well obviously I bought because I love ninnies asking me stupid questions.”

Obama didn’t find that funny. “I don’t think you should have that gun.”

“And that’s great you have opinions on things,” Bob said. “So why don’t you write that opinion down and go put it in my suggestion box. It’s that plastic receptacle in the kitchen under the sink.”

Obama picked up one a black object off the desk. “And this a high-magazine clip?”

“That’s a stapler.”

Obama set it down. “It looks dangerous. I don’t want you having too many bullets in your guns.”

“What’s too many?” Bob asked. “You obviously don’t know a thing about guns, so how in world are you judging how many bullets people should have?”

“And I don’t want you carrying any of these guns in a school or a post office,” Obama said firmly.

“If I’m no threat carrying a gun in a supermarket, why am I suddenly a threat in a school or a post office?” Bob asked.

Obama thought for a moment. “This isn’t about logic. This about doing something.”

“Well, how about you go after murderers and take their guns and keep them from carrying at schools and leave me alone?”

“I don’t know their addresses,” Obama said. “I only know how to find you.”

Suddenly, there was a loud bang, a hole burst open in the floor. Bob quickly grabbed one of his assembled guns. “What’s going on?”

“Oh. Biden is downstairs,” Obama said. “He’s going to teach you proper gun usage.”

“I thought I saw something!” Biden called through the hole. “So I fired my shotgun in the air!”

“I don’t want him in my house,” Bob told Obama.

“I checked,” Obama said. “You’re childproofed.”

“Take him and get out,” Bob commanded. “You’re not doing anything to stop gun murders; you’re just annoying me.”

“We have to do something about gun violence,” Obama said.

“So go after the murderers,” Bob said, “and leave law-abiding citizens alone and let us be armed.”

Obama thought for a moment. Then with a sweep of his arm he knocked all the gun parts off of Bob’s desk.

“Why did you do that?!” Bob yelled.

“I had to do something,” Obama asserted. “Hopefully that will help stop gun violence.”

Bob bent down to start picking up the gun parts. “You are a such a pest! Now get out of my house!”

“I’m hungry!” Biden yelled from below.

“Yeah, I better go,” Obama said. “He gets cranky if he’s hungry… and then he’ll give the news some new soundbite derailing whatever I’m working on. Well, if you ever need me, you know how to find me.”

Bob fished a spring out from under his desk. “Yeah, I’ll use my lame duck call.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Smart Power

Kyle shouted as Kirby plummeted to his death.

“Hey, don’t get upset,” Bob said. “You have to waste a lot of your life before you’re as good at these things as I am.”

“Hey guys!” came a cheery voice from behind them. Bob turned around to see President Obama.

“Sorry, he let himself in!” Bob’s wife Deborah yelled from the other room.

“So, what are you up to?” Obama asked.

Bob turned back to the TV. “Just playing video games with my son.”

Smash Bros.” Kyle said.

Obama nodded. “Those things pause.”

Bob forced a smile and paused the game. “So what can I help you with today?”

“Nothing,” Obama said. “I just wanted to come by and explain what’s going on in Syria.”

Bob raised an eyebrow. “Do you know what’s going on in Syria?”

“I’m taking a stand against chemical weapons and keeping the world safe,” Obama said. “With the help of the Russians, we’re going to get those chemical weapons away from Assad.”

“And that was your plan all along?” Bob asked.

Obama hesitated for a few seconds. “Yep.”

“So I guess John Kerry really got the Syrians in line with that ‘unbelievably small’ attack threat.”

Obama nodded. “Secretary of State Kerry is very smart.”

“Cite one piece of evidence to back that up,” Bob said.

Obama thought for a long while. “He married a billionaire.”

“So what’s going on with Syria?” Kyle asked.

“The president blundered into a big mess making some ‘red line’ comment about chemical weapons,” Bob explained.

“I didn’t make that red line,” Obama asserted. “The world did.”

Bob laughed. “Which is why you got so many international partners backing you on the threat of military action.”

“Are we going to war with Syria?” Kyle asked.

“No, the president just wanted to look tough but doesn’t know how,” Bob explained. “And he didn’t realize he couldn’t even get his own party to back him after all the screaming they did about Iraq.” He turned to Obama. “Actually, I remember back during the Iraq conflict, you egged my house and called me a warmonger for supporting to Bush, and now you want me to support you on maybe attacking Syria?”

“Syria is way different than Iraq,” Obama said. “For one thing, we have no strategic interest in Syria.”

Bob rolled his eyes.

“So anyway,” Obama said, “here’s my explanation on what’s going on with Syria–”

“Here’s mine,” Bob interrupted. “You stupidly made some red line comment about chemical weapons because you thought it would make you look tough and you honestly thought that Assad wouldn’t use chemical weapons and thus you wouldn’t get called on it. When he did use chemical weapons, you had to push for military actions so people wouldn’t just completely ignore everything you say in the future. And then Kerry stupidly mentioned Syria could avoid strikes by giving up their chemical weapons, so now comes Putin to the rescue. So basically you Forrest Gumped your way into and out of this one.”

Obama frowned. “That’s not quite accurate. I’m just playing a very high-minded, chess-like strategy that might be hard for some people to follow. I’m very knowledge on the military front.”

“Really. Name one branch of the military.”

Obama thought for a moment. “Predator drones.”

“Maybe you should play some Call of Duty,” Kyle told Obama. “My dad won’t let me play Call of Duty.”

“Well, it has swearing in it,” Bob said. “There didn’t use to be so cussing in video games — except for Q*bert. Back in the day, it was all just wholesome violence. And there wasn’t even blood because you’d just be like, ‘What are all those red square supposed to be.’ Of course, game controllers were much simpler back then as you had to keep one hand free to turn the crank that kept the game console going.”

“I don’t think that’s all true,” Kyle said.

“Some of that was not true, yes.” Bob turned to Obama. “Sorry, we’re completely ignoring you and your military genius. You have anything else for us?”

“I just want you to know that everything is being handled,” Obama stated. “And now Russia will help us disarm Syria of chemical weapons.”

Bob nodded. “We can’t trust Assad, but I’m sure if we combine him with Putin that’s something we can trust.”

“You can always count on me,” Putin said, walking into the living room.

“How’d you get in here?” Bob exclaimed.

“Your back door was not very locked.” He looked at Obama. “I am glad we are working together on this. You can always trust Russia. Now, I need some change; do you have two tens for a five?”

“Sure.” Smiling, Obama handed Putin two tens.

Putin accepted the money. “Thank you. I will give you the five later.” He then left.

“Do not trust that guy,” Bob warned Obama.

“He’s our partner in peace,” Obama said. “He’s a great guy… as long as you’re not gay. Or opposed to him in any way whatsoever. So, are you satisfied with my handling of Syria?”

“If victory is making sure Assad only murders his people with bullets and bombs and not chemical weapons, then… maybe you achieved that.”

“Great!” Obama said. “Make sure you fill out my evaluation forms and say I’m smart at military stuff. See you later!” Obama walked off.

“So is Putin now the leader of the free world?” Kyle asked.

“I dunno, son,” Bob said. “Things are not looking great out there. I guess as long as we’re not personally getting his with chemical weapons, we should count our blessings.”

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Let Me Be Clear: War on Women

Ralph started barking wildly as soon as he and Bob exited the front door. “What is it?” Bob asked the little beagle. He then looked up and saw a smiling President Obama standing on his driveway. “Oh no,” Bob sighed.

“You’re not busy are you?” Obama asked. Next to him stood a very serious looking woman.

“Well… I was just about to walk the dog…”

“That doesn’t sound busy,” Obama declared.

“Pet ownership is just another symptom of the patriarchy,” declared the woman.

“And who is this?” Bob asked.

“This is Sandra Fluke,” Obama told him. Obama then noticed Ralph sniffing at this shoes and reached down to pet him. “What a cute dog…”

“Don’t touch him,” Bob said. “So what do you need?”

Obama smiled. “Oh nothing much. I just need you to drive Fluke here to a pharmacy and buy her some birth control.”

Bob looked at the scowling Fluke and then back at Obama. “Yeah, I’m not doing that.”

Obama looked confused. “Why? Do you have some religious objection?”

“It would take a while for me to list all the different objections I have to this,” Bob said.

“He wants to oppress and control women!” Fluke shouted at him.

“Come on, man.” Obama nudged Bob playfully in the shoulder. “You need to go buy her some birth control. If you don’t, then later I’ll be back here asking you to drive her to an abortion clinic.”

“Why do I need to do this?” Bob demanded. He then leaned in close to Obama and whispered. “Is she… um… mentally special?”

Obama whispered back, “She’s a woman.”

“And that means…”

Obama furrowed his brow. “Women can’t be expected to do things themselves… I think. Anyway, the single ones are easy pickings for votes as long as I make sure they get their birth control and abortions and stuff.”

Bob backed away from Obama and looked at Fluke. “Okay, there’s a Walgreens on basically every single intersection in this country. You can go get your own birth control; you don’t have to bother me.”

“Women have almost gone bankrupt having to buy their own contraception while at Georgetown,” Fluke responded angrily.

Bob raised an eyebrow. “They’re really teaching life skills at the elite colleges these days, huh?”

“All you have to do is just get her to the pharmacy and buy her birth control,” Obama said. “It’s easy. And then everyone will be happy.”

Bob frowned. “I don’t think my wife will be when she hears I was alone in a car with a girl who nearly went bankrupt on birth control.”

“Are you implying something about me?” Fluke demanded.

Bob shook his head. “Oh no. Sorry. That would be crass to imply things about a girl coming to me demanding things. I should just come out and say what I’m thinking, like that your a whiny, over-privileged idiot.” He turned to Obama. “I’m not doing this, okay? Not going to happen.”

Obama frowned. “Okay. I guess I can’t get you to buy her birth control.” He then took a revolver out of his jacket and tried to hand it to Bob.

Bob backed away. “What’s this?”

“Instead of taking her to the pharmacy to get birth control,” Obama explained, “we’ll just force her health insurance to pay for it. They have some sort of weird religious objection or something, so you may have to point this gun at them to let them know that the government said they have to pay for it and we’re serious.”

“Are you insane?”

“He respects women!” Fluke asserted. “And he–”

“Adults are talking,” Bob interrupted her.

“I’m thirty-two years old and–”

“Adults can get their own birth control. Now shush.” Bob turned to Obama. “Again, not doing this.”

“Well I can’t go pointing a gun at health insurance providers,” Obama said. “It’s undignified. It’s more of lackey thing.”

“I’m not your lackey; I’m not doing this,” Bob said. “And maybe have you tried figuring out some way to get birth control for people without pointing a gun at anyone?”

Fluke stomped forward. “People who fear vaginas have to be made to–”

“I told you to be quiet.” Bob looked at Obama. “You went to Harvard. She went to Georgetown. Maybe if you two put your heads together and think super hard on this, you can get your birth control without having to bother anyone, okay? I mean, isn’t this a private thing? Don’t people like a right to privacy anymore?”

Obama shook his head. “Not since they invented Facebook.”

“I’m walking my dog,” Bob said. “You figure this out and leave me out of it.”

“Okay,” Obama shouted as Bob headed away with Raplh in tow, “but if Sandra Fluke reproduces, it will be on your head!”

Bob sighed, not looking back. “I understand the risks.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Nudge

“We can’t see the TV from here,” Kyle said, looking with confusion about the dinner table.

“Well, no,” Bob admitted to his son, “but that’s sort of the point. This is a family dinner where we’re going to talk to each other instead of watch TV.”

“Petey can’t talk,” little Lily said, “he can only watch TV.”

Bob looked at Petey who was in his high chair, hitting his tray with a fork. “Well, he’ll just have to cope. Anyway, we’re having a traditional family dinner at the dining table. Since your mom cooked us this lovely dinner, I thought we’d try it. I saw it in a movie once.”

The doorbell rang.

“Of course,” Bob grumbled as he went to see who it was.

When he opened the door, standing on the porch was President Obama. “Hi, Bob!”

Bob forced a smile. “Hi, Mr. President. Um… we’re in the middle of dinner and–”

“Oh, I should come take a look!” Obama barged in and headed for the dining room. Bob sighed and followed him.

“Hi, it’s me!,” Obama announced, taking the seat at the head of the table where Bob had been seated. “I’m the President of the United States.” He looked around. “You can’t see the TV from here.”

Kyle nodded. “That’s what I was saying.”

“I didn’t know the president was coming,” Bob’s wife Deborah said to Bob as he sat down next to her.

“He just barged in,” Bob whispered to her. “I’ll see if I can get rid of him.”

Deborah shook her head. “No. We can’t not invite the first black president to dinner or we’ll get called racist.”

Bob smiled and looked at Obama. “So, Mr. President, would you like to join us for dinner?”

Obama nodded. “Sure. You see, my wife was saying I need to eat healthier. So I said, ‘Why don’t I instead make everyone else eat healthier,’ and she agreed to that. Thus I’m checking in on people and seeing what they’re eating. So, how are your kids doing?” He looked at the children. “Any of you obese? Childhood obesity is a big problem.”

“Who are you?” Lily asked.

“I told you; I’m the President of the United States.” He leaned in close and whispered to her. “By the way, if you need contraceptives, I respect your rights and will get you some. You don’t have to tell your parents.”

“Don’t offer contraceptives to my four-year-old daughter,” Bob said firmly. “And my kids are fine. They’re not obese. Just whiny sometimes.”

“I don’t have a problem with whiny. If they stay whiny into adulthood, that’s a good indication of their voting habits.” Obama put a napkin on his lap. “So, are you feeding your kids healthy food? Like, what’s for dinner here?”

“It’s a home-cooked meal,” Deborah said. “It’s a pot roast and potatoes.”

Obama nodded. “Do you have a vegetarian option?”

Deborah raised an eyebrow. “Are you a vegetarian?”

“No, but maybe someone else wants the vegetarian option.”

Bob took a deep breath. “No one here is a vegetarian.”

“What do you have for someone with peanut allergies?” Obama asked.

“It’s a pot roast,” Bob said, a little annoyance seeping into his voice. “You don’t put peanuts on a pot roast.”

Obama frowned. “I’m very smart you know.”

Bob smiled. “I know. But as the president of this country, should you really be barging in to people’s houses and critiquing what they eat?”

Obama chuckled. “I can blow people up with out due process; I can certainly tell people what to eat.”

“I’m not really sure you’re supposed to have the power to do either of those,” Bob said.

Obama smiled and folded his arms. “Yeah, Bob, but you’re not a constitutional scholar.”

“No, I’m just someone with basic reading comprehension who’s read the six-page document on our government’s powers,” Bob grumbled.

“Anyway,” Obama continued, “I’ve decided that I really can do a lot of good focusing on individual behavior and nudging people to doing what’s best for them.”

Bob rolled his eyes. “And you know what’s best for us?”

Obama smiled confidently. “I do have a staff of Ivy League educated intellectuals, while all you have is…” He motioned to the people seated at the table.

“My family,” Bob said.

“Do you think we should be watching TV while we eat?” Kyle asked.

“I do if it’s special programs that helps you think globally and be a better citizen,” Obama answered.

Kyle shrugged. “I guess I’m fine without TV.”

“Now, Mr. President,” Bob said carefully, “don’t you have a lot more important things to do than… you know… worry about little things like how people lead their private lives. For instance, isn’t there all this stuff going on in the Middle East you should be focused on?”

Obama grimaced. “I never really like that stuff — foreign affairs and the military and what not. That’s why I have some generals and the State Department handling all that. What’s always interested me is the domestic picture and improving peoples lives by getting them to buy health insurance and educating people and getting everyone to act healthier. If I really want to improve things in this country, I need to focus on individual behavior.”

“Okay, well…” Bob hesitated, trying to think of the nicest way to phrase things. “…if you’re main interest is the domestic arena and influencing individual behavior and not the big things like national defense, then maybe — just maybe — that President of the United States not the right job for you?”

Obama chuckled. “It’s going to be some work setting you straight, Bob, but I’m going to do it.”

Deborah shrieked. Out the window Bob saw some hideous, almost skeletal figure staring at them from outside. “Who is that?” Bob demanded.

“That’s just Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” Obama said.

“Should we… invite him in?” Bob asked, though Deborah shook her head vigorously.

“Nah,” Obama answered, “he just likes to stand outside and watch.”

“He’s… kind of creepy,” Deborah said.

Obama nodded. “Very creepy. So… we going to eat while I tell you more about how you can improve your lives?”

Bob sighed. “Okay, let’s bow our heads.”

Obama looked around with confusion. “Whoa? What’s going on here?”

“We’re saying a prayer,” Bob explained.

Obama looked worried. “I didn’t know this was some sort of religious thing. Is this going to be all about hating homosexuals?”

“We’re just saying grace,” Bob said. “I thought you’re supposed to be a Christian.”

“I am!” Obama insisted. “I just don’t make a big deal about it.”

“Being a guest, then, would you like to say grace, then?” Bob asked.

“Sure…” Obama folded his hands. “So what do I do? Do I just talk about me?”

Bob groaned. “I’ll do it. We’re just thanking God for all we have.”

“You should thank the government too,” Obama suggested, “because they’re also — in a much more direct way — responsible for what you have.”

“I’ll take that under advisement.” Bob bowed his head.

“Oh,” Obama interrupted, “and tell God that I’m smart.”

“I’m not telling Him that.”

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Let Me Be Clear: Pivot to Jobs

“There’s someone here to see you,” Bob’s secretary Susan told him over the phone.

Bob had been getting a headache trying to figure out how to get his company to comply with the new health care laws and was actually happy to have a distraction. “Who is it?”

“It’s President Obama.”

Bob’s heart sank. “What’s he doing here?”

“He said he’s pivoting to jobs again so he’s here to help businesses.”

Bob took a deep breath. “Well, tell him I’m not here.”

There was a pause, and then his Susan said, “He says the NSA told him you are in your office right now.”

Bob sighed. “Fine. Send him in.”

The door opened and a smiling President Obama walked in. “Hi, Bob! I’m pivoting to jobs! I’m here to help your company!”

Bob forced a smile. “That’s great, President Obama, but I really have things under control.”

“No, you don’t,” Obama said, looking around the office. “You’re not creating enough jobs.”

“Well, I’m have a hiring freeze right now while we’re figuring out how these new health care laws affect things.”

Seeing the change in Obama’s mood, Bob instantly regretted saying that. “That law is to help everyone get health care,” Obama said, frowning.

Bob rolled his eyes. “And it’s doing a great job at that. But it’s kind of… troublesome for businesses.”

“Well, don’t worry about it. That’s why I’m here: To help your business. Maybe I can make you more efficient.” Obama looked around for something to fix. He went to a file cabinet and heaved it over so it fell on the ground.

“You just knocked over a file cabinet,” Bob said. “How is that supposed to help me?”

“Maybe it works better that way.”

“Maybe it works better… lying face down on the ground so I can’t access the drawers?”

“Hey! I’m trying to help!” Obama shouted. “You should thank me for helping! Would you rather I not even try to help you?”

Bob rubbed his temple. “Do you want an honest answer on that?”

Obama walked over to Bob’s desk and saw a paper there. “Is this your payroll? You should pay people more.”

“And how will that help me hire more people?”

Obama looked excited. “If you pay them more, they get more money to spend in the economy and I get more taxes from them. Everyone wins!”

“Is that how things work?” Bob asked, exasperated.

“Yep. I could have Paul Krugman come over and explain it to you if that helps.”

“No… that’s okay. I don’t have more money to increase salaries right now, though.”

“There’s more money right there.” Obama grabbed a wad of cash off Bob’s desk. Obama then stuck it in his pocket. “Actually, I need this.”

“You can’t just take my money like that.”

“Yes I can. I’m giving it to RegTek.”

“What?! That’s a competitor of mine! How can you do that?”

Obama looked confused. “It’s a subsidy.”

“And how is taking my money and giving it to a competitor going to help me hire more people?”

Obama was silent for a few seconds as he thought long and hard on that. “It’s a subsidy.”

“I don’t want to be insulting, Mr. President,” Bob said as calmly as he could manage, “but I don’t think you understand how businesses work.”

Obama looked mad. “Nuh uh. I’m very smart. Say I’m smart.”

Bob shook his head. “No.”

“As President of the United States, I order you to say I’m smart!”

Bob folded his arms. “You don’t have that authority.”

Obama tried staring him down. “I don’t like your attitude, Bob. You think you’re so big because you have a business, but you didn’t do this yourself. Other people built this building.”

“I know that,” Bob said firmly. “I paid them to do that.”

“And it was the government who laid down these roads,” Obama continued.

“So what? Do you want a medal for hiring people to lay down some asphalt?”

Obama thought on that. “Yes. I would like a medal and for you to tell me I’m smart.”

Bob took another deep breath. “Have you ever run a business, Mr. President?”

“I ran a campaign.”

“No, you didn’t; your campaign manager did. But have you run a business?”

“I was a community organizer.”

Bob sighed. “That’s not a real thing. Let me tell you about running a business. You know what minimum wage is for a guy creating a new business?”

Obama thought for a moment. “Fifty dollars an hour?”

Bob shook his head. “It’s nothing. It’s less than nothing, in fact. Starting out, I was losing money.”

“You don’t sound like a good businessman, then.”

“And yet, here I am now with my own business and no debt, so I think I know what I’m talking about. I put in the risks, and I got the reward. You know nothing of this; you don’t have anything useful to tell me because I know way more than you when it comes to businesses.”

Obama frowned. “Then why aren’t you hiring more people?”

“Because you keep getting in my way!” Bob shouted. “You keep coming in here…” He pointed to the file cabinet. “…knocking stuff over and then asking me to thank you. No, Mr. President. Please stop. Leave me alone.”

“But I can help!” Obama pleaded.

“Really? Then you look at my company’s budget and tell me where we have money to hire more people right now.” He handed Obama a print out of their current finances.

Obama looked over it intently, but soon his eyes glazed over. “I’m bored now. I’m going to pivot away from jobs and to immigration.”

Bob smiled and snatched back his budget from Obama. “Great. I’m sure more illegal immigrants will solve everything.”

“Well, bye,” Obama said, walking to the door. “I’ll see you later when I pivot to jobs again.”

Bob went to his desk chair and slumped in it. “I know.”

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