Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns are satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

News item: Former President Bill Clinton’s name has been floated as a potential successor to Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations.

“This plenary session of the United Nations will come to order!”

The buzz of conversation in the room ceased at the words of the tall, gray-haired American at the lectern.

William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd president of the United States of America was a commanding presence as chief executive of the world body, and all eyes turned to him as he spoke.

The secretary-general summarized the session’s agenda, heard a motion and second to adopt it, called for a voice vote and declared the motion passed. Quickly and masterfully, he guided the delegates through the routine matters of the day: a preliminary budget for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a compilation of AIDS statistics from the World Health Organization, and a very brief report on the Universal Postal Union.

As the reports concluded, the delegates sat forward, eager to hear Mr. Clinton’s words.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, your excellencies,” he said, “my saxophone rendition of Junior Walker’s ‘Shotgun!'”

Cries of consternation filled the room:

“My word!”

“Nyet, nyet!”

“Zut alors!”


Delegates were on their feet, gesticulating excitedly and one babbling at the other without regard to differences in language.

“Order! Order!” Mr. Clinton cried, repeating the call until his personal magnetism overcame the bedlam and the delegates quieted. “The chair recognizes the ambassador from the United Kingdom.”

“Mr. Secretary-General, we must protest,” he said. “While we all hold you in the highest esteem, you must recognize that nothing has been more divisive in your term of office than your insistence on playing the ‘ill wind that nobody blows good.'”

There was a good humored chuckle at this, and the tension seemed to subside.

“Not since the Iraq affair has this assemblage faced a more sensitive issue,” the diplomat continued. “As it is late in the day, may I suggest – in fact, I move – that we table the saxophone until the next meeting of this august body,” said the Brit.

The French ambassador jumped up, shouting, “By acclamation!”

And the polyglot cries came again, “Da!” “Aye!” “Oui!” “Ja!”

For a long moment the secretary-general seemed gripped by indecision. He bit his lower lip and seemed on the verge of tears.

When he regained his composure, his voice was more hoarse than usual.

“Very well,” he said. “I, as all of us, must recognize that since the aforementioned Iraq question, when our Security Council voted not to back the United States, our determination to maintain the U.N. as a forum for settling global disputes must be our first priority.

“We cannot afford a further erosion of world commitment to this institution. Therefore, in the spirit of international comity that long has been the hallmark of this organization, and recognizing that as secretary-general it is my task to unite rather than divide … the matter of the saxophone is laid upon the table.”

Solemnly, the delegates rose and applauded.

As the clapping subsided, the Russian ambassador asked, “How about lunch?”

But Mr. Clinton raised an admonitory hand.

“Shouldn’t we schedule our next meeting first?” he asked. “I appreciate you all coming up to Chappaqua, but the decorators are coming in next week, and we can’t have it here.”

“They have a nice meeting room at Denny’s,” said the Russian.

“Nein!” rejoined the German. “You can’t get free use without a minimum number of orders.”

And another round of Babel followed until the French ambassador said, “My place is big enough, and we have at least a dozen folding chairs.”

“Done!” said Mr. Clinton. “Lunch is in the parlor.”

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