Friday, December 07, 2012

The Situation Room

The following was my entry to NPRs 3 Minute Fiction contest. I didn't win. 

The Whitehouse contains three rooms named after former occupants. It contains four if you count the Truman Balcony, but never let a realtor tell you a balcony counts as a room. The Lincoln Bedroom is the most famous of these eponymous rooms, but in the overall scheme of national administration it is hardly a vital space. The Roosevelt Room is important enough, but the two Roosevelts have to share the credit, which somehow lessons the import. A twofer dedication is hardly a dedication at all.

Traditionally the Situation Room has been used during times of national crisis as a command center where the president can receive real-time information. President Kennedy built it after he wasn't able to receive up-to-date information during the Bay of Pigs invasion. President The Situation uses it much like that young, telegenic president before him. But rather than receive real-time information he conveys it. And the crises are rarely national, though to some extent they have become so.

The Present Situation with President The Situation puts Roosevelt's fireside chats to shame. Although ratings weren't actually recorded during the Great Depression, it can be safely assumed that TPSwPTS is a much more popular program. If for no other reason, its broadcast isn't limited to the radio, but is instead simulcast to satellite radio, MTV and it's own Youtube channel. Comments on the Youtube channel alone number in the millions, and range from Suri Cruise to Kim Jong-un. And it certainly helps that rather than focus on the depressing subjects like economic depression and war like his predecessors, President The Situation rarely mentions the ongoing recession.

And why should he? It's very difficult to make an economic downturn entertaining, and even if he did there would be no real benefit in doing so. It wouldn't make the country the superpower it used to be. And if it did, there would be no real benefit in doing so. America didn't really want to be powerful or influential. The American dream is happiness, and so many of the powerful and influential lack happiness to an astounding degree. What they actually wanted, was simply to be entertained. And the separation of entertainment and state had lasted long enough.

America thought The Situation partied at all times and in all places, but that simply wasn't the case. As he sat in his namesake room, he simply sat. He didn't party, he didn't GTL; to the best of his ability he didn't even think. He sat. Soon the cameras would roll and he would turn on. He would entertain. But for now, nothing. Would he have won the national popularity contest if this time of day were part of his broadcast? Most likely not. They didn't want their national distraction to take a break. All's right in the world if their entertainer in chief can spend his time in the club and not sitting with his finger on the button.

There was no button, but he sat. The camera crew was beginning to arrive. He didn't do his own laundry any more, but he'd take America with him to the gym and to tan. He'd take them with him to pick out a fresh to death t-shirt and hit 9:30 or Fur or the Shadow Room. He'd take them with him to stop by and see Snooki or Barack. They'd feel like they were in on it; and they were. They were in on America.

"Five minutes Mr. President. We'll be starting with the Dodging Grenades and Finding First Ladies segment."

They were in on it. And he was their president.

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