President Obama Answers the Red Phone: A Play in One Uncaring Act.
THE SCENE: It's 3:00 (in the afternoon) at the White House. Fresh from his second workout (and fourth cigarette) of the day, an energized PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA sits in his private quarters with his Chief of Staff and closest confidant, RAHM (RahmBo) EMANUEL. The room has been overdecorated, butofcourse, in Louis XIV WannaBe.
As the lights come up, OBAMA and RAHMBO are relaxing and chatting in overstuffed, purple velvet chairs with gold braid around the edges. It's time for their daily chore of listening and responding to OBAMA's messages on the Red Phone, which is so tricked out, it would look right at home on the bridge of The Enterprise.
OBAMA (with his trademark grin): Well, Rahmbo, are ya ready? Today's messages should be great.
RAHMBO: Fuckin' A! Can't wait to see how your "Balls of Steel" national security speech went over.
(RAHMBO hits "Play". The phone beeps and begins playing back the messages.)
RED PHONE (in mechanical male voice): Message One. From: Richard Cheney.
(CHENEY'S VOICE comes on. Unfortunately, it is nothing but snarling gibberish. The brief message ends, and the phone beeps.)
OBAMA: Whoooops! I should have known Cousin Dick would call. Lucky for me, George built a Cheney-To-English Translator right into this phone. Let me see - I think it's this one. (Hits a button) Okay, Rahmbo, try again.
(RAHMBO hits "Play" again.)
CHENEY'S VOICE: Hey, Cuz, great job on that national security speech of yours. I was worried everyone was going to notice that it was the same as mine, but that speechwriter of yours is worth every penny! Oh, and thanks for the cover on torture. It would have been a real drag to go to jail for a "no-brainer" like waterboarding. See you in Paraguay on July 4th - George is bringing the barbeque! Peace out!
(The phone beeps.)
RAHMBO: Should we call him back?
OBAMA: Naaaaahhhh. I'll talk to him over the weekend, like always. Any more?
RAHMBO: Yup - we're pretty full up today. (presses "Play" again)
RED PHONE: Message Deleted. Next Message, From: Benjamin Netanyahu.
NETANYAHU'S VOICE: Mr. President, Shalom. I would like to know why you are being so intractable on the matter of the West Bank settlements, while putting no pressure at all on the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel's right to exist and defend itself. I don't think we are ever going to have peace this way, Mr. President. Please call me back. (The machine beeps.)
OBAMA (snippily, responding to the message): Yeah, well, Benjamin, I'm doing the best I can with this mess I inherited from Bush. And everyone knows the Israelis don't have any oil, so why the hell should I step up for them? I mean, what do they want me to do? (reluctantly) I guess I'll have to send George Mitchell over there again.
RAHMBO (muttering under his breath): Yeah, THAT's gonna do a lot of good.
OBAMA (sharply): What was that?
RAHMBO: Nothing, Mr. President. Next message!
(RAHMBO hits "Play")
RED PHONE: Message deleted. Next message. From: Mahmoud Achmadenijad.
ACHMADINNERJACKET'S VOICE: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Thank you so very much for giving us till the end of the year to finish developing our nuclear weapons. Your friendship truly means everything to me. As we agreed, I promise not to accidentally irradiate any oil fields when I bomb Israel into the Stone Age. Salaam Aleikhem.
(RAHMBO's face turns pale.)
OBAMA (reassuringly): Don't worry about him, Rahm. You know he's crazy! I never agreed to any such thing. I promise nothing will happen to Israel - not on my watch.
RAHMBO (charmed and calmed, as always, by OBAMA): Oh, thank God. Delete?
(RAHMBO presses a button.)
RED PHONE: Final message. From: Kim Jong-Il.
KIM JONG-IL'S VOICE: Hello, Leader of the corrupt Western imperialist country United States of America! I, Kim Jong-Il, say to you: You are powerless to stop the great and glorious nation of Korea from developing nuclear weapons. We will do as we wish and you cannot stop us. South Korea will soon be ours. Neener, neener, neener. (The phone beeps.)
OBAMA: Did he say "Neener neener neener?" What a douchebag. (rising) Well, time to get ready for my party tonight. We're having pheasant, and I get to wear my presidential socks! (OBAMA begins to leave the room.)
RAHMBO: Barack, wait! (OBAMA turns and faces him with a quizzical look.) Don't you have some kind of response to this challenge? These guys say they have nukes and our guys are in danger!
OBAMA: You know, Rahmbo, you're right. Let me think for a moment.
(OBAMA moves back to the chair, sits, and assumes a thoughtful pose. He does not move for quite some time. Finally, RAHMBO clears his throat.)
RAHMBO: Hellooooo, Barack? (OBAMA snaps out of his reverie.) Have you made a decision?
OBAMA (puzzled): About what?
RAHMBO (rolling his eyes): North Korea, Mr. President.
OBAMA (smiling again): Oh, right, right. Sorry - as my fans would say, I was playing eleven-dimensional chess on Pluto again!
RAHMBO: In other words, you and Halle in the hot tub? (They share a manly laugh.) So, what about it?
OBAMA (completely uninterested): Um, do I have a North Korea Special Envoy yet?
RAHMBO: No, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Shit. Oh well. It's really up to the United Nations, I'm told. What can I do? I'll have Favreau write me a speech about stepped-up sanctions, or whatever. Later!
(OBAMA exits. RAHMBO puts his head in his hands in despair. Then, he pulls out his cell phone and dials a number. The RED PHONE rings four times, then the message plays back.)
RED PHONE (in OBAMA's voice): Hi, this is the President. I'm leading the free world and can't get your call right now, so leave a message after the beep.
(The machine beeps.)
RAHMBO: Hi, this is Rahm Emanuel. I'm resigning as Chief of Staff. I can't believe how fucking incompetent you are. I hope the Republicans impeach you. You suck worse than a broken Hoover. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!
(The RED PHONE beeps. EMANUEL pauses, savoring the precious moment of freedom. Then, his shoulders droop. He walks over to the RED PHONE and presses a button.)
RED PHONE: Message one. From: Rahm Emanuel. Deleted.
(EMANUEL bows his head.)