“Hey Big Dope,” he said. “Are you in the presence of an important person or what?” He punctuated his question with a one-finger punch to the keyboard.
“Very important,” he said. “I’ve been given what may be the most important job in the history of the world.”
I took my coffee to the couch and sat. “And what might that be?” I said.
“I have been tasked to write up quotes for the president in the leadup to his Nobel Peace Prize nomination.”
“Oh really? How did that come about?”
“Partly because of my internal data retrieval system. I can access all the major speeches and quotes from history and use them as guides. My job is to make our glorious leader sound, well, like a leader.”
“Oh. I see.” But I didn’t really.
“How’s this for starters?” He picked up a sheet and read. “My good friends, for the first time in our history, an American president has returned from abroad bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
“Uh,” I began, but he interrupted.
Reading again, he said, “I believe it is peace with honor.”
I tried again, “Do you …”
He overrode again, “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”
“Would you wait …” I tried again, but he was on a roll.
“Here’s one for his critics,” he said. Lifting the paper, he read, “I tell you that I'm not dictatorial, I'm not intolerant, I'm not overpowering! You're all wrong, wrong, wrong, I tell you! I'm the most relaxed and understanding of people! None of you, I insist, must ever say I'm dictatorial again!” He lowered the paper and smiled, then said. “That’s some real presidential sounding stuff, is it not?”
“May I …”
“Here’s one of my best,” he said. “Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of the world, for the removal of those suspicions and those animosities which have so long poisoned the air. The question of North Korea is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it, I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.”
I groaned. He said, “That’s a good one, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps you should know,” I began.
He interrupted me again, reading, “I am resolved that my method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern us, and I am determined to continue my efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of the world.”
In one fluid motion, he grabbed another sheet and read, “Whatever the lengths to which others may go, my American government will never resort to the deliberate attack on women and children and other civilians for purposes of mere terrorism.”
He looked at me as if he were a minister finishing a benediction. “Peace in our time,” he said. “That’s pure gold, don’t you think.”
“I think,” I said, “that you have just stated minor variations on quotes by Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England in the 1930s,” during the leadup to World War Two.”
“Es macht nichts,” he said. “Who reads history anymore? Our folks sure don’t. Waste of time. Waste of time," he repeated. Now, do you have anything else to say?”
“No,” I said. “I think you are right on top of things.”
“Uber alles,” he said. “Uber alles.” He stopped and thought, having had, it seemed, a brainstorm. He grabbed a pad and started making notes. I sipped my coffee and smiled.