Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include 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.
“Rahm. Rahm! RA-A-A-AHM!”
Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff, poked his head through the door of the Oval Office: “Yes, Mr. President?”
“Get David and Valerie,” said the president. “I want to talk about some new edicts I want to issue.”
Emanuel disappeared but soon returned with senior advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett.
As soon as they were seated, Barack Obama said, “This bill by Joe Lieberman to give me an Internet ‘kill switch’ … What’s taking so long?”
“Mr. President,” said Axelrod, “the Senate is getting a lot of pressure from the high-tech community and the purveyors of Internet-based media. They think the bill would give the president – you, sir – dictatorial powers.”
“Well, we need to move on this,” said the president. “The bill says we could shut down the Internet in the event of a national emergency, and we have a national emergency.”
“What national emergency?” asked Jarrett.
“Are you kidding?” asked Obama. “My approval rating is below 50 percent! And it’s because of the Internet. The ‘old media’ can’t counter the barrage against me from those doggone ‘new media.’”
Emanuel interjected, “Those ninnies in the Senate are standing in the way of your essential effort to remake America.”
“That’s right!” exclaimed the president. “I’m tired of waiting. Since Congress won’t move on this, I will. David, Valerie, I want you and Rahm to draft an executive order giving me control of the Internet.”
“Excellent idea, Mr. President,” said Axelrod. “We may run into a problem, however. You know the Constitution says, ‘All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.’ Somebody is bound to bring that up.”
“Where does the Constitution say that?” Obama demanded. “I taught the Constitution, and I never saw that.”
“Uh, it’s Article I, Section I,” said Jarrett.
“It’s like I’ve always said,” said Obama, exasperated. “The Constitution is too limiting on government’s – meaning my – ability to accomplish things for the American people. Besides, we’ve already established the precedent that legislative power is vested in me.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. President,” said Emanuel. “What precedent is that.”
“Look who’s being a ninny,” said Obama, joshing. “Just last week I had Health and Human Services issue a ‘Patients’ Bill of Rights.’ You’ll recall that among other things, it moved health-insurance coverage for children with pre-existing medical conditions up to next September. You’ll recall that the health-care bill specified that provision wasn’t to take effect until 2014.”
“By golly! He’s right!” exclaimed Jarrett.
“You can legislate!” cried Axelrod.
“Brilliant!” shouted Emanuel.
“OK!” said the president. “So get going on that executive order on the Internet.”
Then he added offhandedly, “And while you’re at it, draft another one reinstituting the Sedition Act of 1798.”
“Huh?” said Emanuel.
“The Sedition Act of 1798,” Obama repeated. “Congress let the thing expire, and I think that was a mistake. Have Homeland Security reissue it as a regulation. Make sure it includes the part making it unlawful for anybody to criticize the president.”
Jarrett, who had been busily punching up applications on her iPhone, said, “I’ve got it! The act said ‘writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United states … or the said President, or to bring them … into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them … the hatred of the good people of the United States … for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the president of the United States … or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act’ should be a high misdemeanor.”
“That’s it! That’s it!” said Obama. “Get that written up immediately, only make the offense a felony instead of a misdemeanor.”
“But, if memory serves, that law expired in 1801,” said Axelrod.
“So?” said the president.
“So it’s a bit late to bring it back,” Axelrod replied.
“Yeah?” said Obama. “Who’s to stop me?”