“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.”