Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
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 the difference.
The telephone rings in the family quarters of the White House. Michelle Obama picks up:
Benjamin: Michelle? It’s Benjamin, Benjamin Netanyahu. Say, is the president around? I going to be in New York for a few days, and I’d really like to get together with him.
Michelle: Bibi! It’s good to hear your voice! Barack isn’t here right now, but if you’ll call back next week, I know he’d love to talk with you.
Benjamin: I’m a bit pressed for time, Michelle. Isn’t it at all possible for us to get together?
Michelle: Well, he isn’t in New York.
Benjamin: It wouldn’t be a problem for me to buzz on down to Washington, D.C.
Michelle: Bibi, you know how busy Barack is these days, what with his re-election campaign and all. I have his calendar here, and I just don’t see any holes in his schedule.
Benjamin: Maybe if you told him I’m about to precipitate a Middle East war …?
Michelle: [laughing] Oh, Bibi, we just love that dry Jewish humor. But, seriously, I’m sure Barack will be able to find some time for you after November 6.
Benjamin: But, Michelle, by then it could be too late!
Michelle: The president can’t be hurried when it comes to important matters. He always deliberates seriously and at length.
Benjamin: Maybe if you tell him the price of oil could skyrocket. That would cost America dearly.
Michelle: [sighing] Bibi, you know how Barack feels about fossil fuels. A supply disruption could be just the thing to jump start our green-energy industry. You know, solar and wind. Oh, and clean coal. Mustn’t forget clean coal.
Benjamin: [raising his voice] Thousands of lives are at stake! The existence of Israel is at stake! And we could end up in a WORLD WAR!
Michelle: Really, Bibi! Barack is just so busy. And fundraising isn’t fun raising, you know. Besides, isn’t it enough that he had the Democratic platform restore the assertion that Jerusalem is your capital? What more do you want?
Benjamin: Michelle, this is terribly important. I know Barack is preoccupied with affairs of state, the election and all, but here’s an idea: I’m bringing my clubs with me. Maybe we could chat over a round of golf?
Michelle: Now there’s a possibility. Give me your cell phone number. I’ll talk with his campaign scheduler and get back to you.
The crisis phone on Air Force One rings, and a national security aid answers:
U.S. Cultural Attache: We’re under attack!
Aide: What the …! What are you talking about?
Attache: This is our embassy in Egypt. Demonstrators are scaling our walls, tearing down the American flag!
Aide: You’re kidding, right?
Attache: I wish I were. Some filmmaker is promoting a movie about Muhammad, and some Muslims here and in Libya are incensed. Our consulate in Benghazi has been attacked, too! The ambassador may have been killed!
Aide: Hold on! Mr. President! Mr. President!
Barack Obama: What is it?
Aide: Muslim mobs are attacking our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi.
Obama: That’s incredible! You know, we’re much more respected around the Muslim world since I became president. And we helped both Egypt and Libya throw off oppressive dictators. They must have good reason for their actions, because they really love us. What did we do to offend them?
Aide: Apparently, an American filmmaker is promoting an unflattering movie about Muhammed.
Obama: That’s a dreadful abuse of our First Amendment freedom. Make sure we apologize.
Aide: Will do, sir. (He passes on the instruction and rings off.)
Obama: It’s terrible that anybody would criticize the religious beliefs of others.
Aide: Yes, sir. By the way, Kathleen Sebelius wanted me to tell you those pesky Catholics are still kicking up their heels about financing abortion.
Obama: When will they learn my public policy trumps their dogma? Say! Did you hear this one? The pope, a nun and a Mormon walk into a bar …”
But, seriously: It is Sept. 11 as I write this. Eleven years ago, while the World Trade Center was ablaze, I called an emergency meeting of the student newspaper staff at California State University, Hayward. Classes were not in session, but the young people dutifully gathered and I sat amazed as they chatted – with no sense of outrage – about what America might have done to “deserve” or precipitate the terrorist attacks.
Let us keep in mind: The same people who were teaching young people “critical thinking” skills 11 years ago still dominate our university campuses today.