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What If Obama’s Teleprompter Failed at Valley Forge?

An off-the-cuff "history" lesson about the Continental Army's carbon footprint and the fishy propaganda of Thomas Paine.

by
George Leef

Bio

September 9, 2009 - 12:00 am

The scene: President Obama is about to give a speech at historic Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

President Obama: “Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to address you from one of America’s most revered sites, Valley Forge, where …”

Pfffttt. The teleprompter gives off a loud noise, then goes blank.

Obama: “Uh, I’m sorry, but it seems that my teleprompter is malfunctioning again. (Laughs nervously.) But that’s no problem. I’ll speak without notes and from the heart, just as great orators always do.”

Watching on TV back at the White House, Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs exchange nervous glances.

Obama: “As you undoubtedly know, Valley Forge was the place where George Washington’s army spent the brutally hot summer of 1777. It was one of those terrible summers that gave wise and far-seeing people a glimpse of the global warming challenge that now threatens us all. Washington did what he could to reduce the army’s carbon footprint, but unfortunately no one had thought of cap and trade back then.”

Emanuel and Gibbs stare open-mouthed at the TV screen.

Obama: “But there is something far more important for us to understand about the army at Valley Forge. It was, you see, the forerunner of the angry mobs of misguided protesters we’ve been seeing so much of lately. Just as the people at the so-called tea parties have been whipped into an anti-government frenzy by a clever and manipulative campaign of disinformation, so were the troops in Washington’s army. In those days, people were taken in by propagandists and spin doctors like Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry with all their talk about individual liberty. Today it’s Rush Limbaugh and a bunch of bloggers in their pajamas, spreading falsehoods about my policies 24/7.”

Emanuel: “Gibbs, how in hell do we get Barack off that stage?!” Gibbs: “Dunno, Rahm.”

Obama: “The trouble back at the time of the Revolution was basically the same as it is today — most people just didn’t trust their government to know what’s best for them. Sure, the government had imposed a tea tax, a stamp tax, and some other taxes. Instead of thinking about their own selfish desires, the people should have considered all the good the government could have done with the money, how it could have spent it to stimulate the economy. Too bad the king didn’t think of collecting the revenue he needed by taxing only the rich. That could have saved a whole lot of grief.

“It was also unfortunate that we didn’t have the Fairness Doctrine back then. If we had, then those raucous Sons of Liberty meetings where the rabble-rousers clouded people’s minds with a lot of fishy statements about the government would have been balanced with some reasonable speakers. Those meetings were like Fox News. Not the least bit fair and balanced.”

Emanuel yells into his cell phone: “Get me the head of the Secret Service detail there!”

Obama: “If Americans had listened to reason back in 1776, they would have ditched that rebellion talk and stayed with England. They could have had universal health care long ago. Instead of enlisting in the army to fight, men could have gone to college to get degrees that would boost their earning power. And the government could have created good green jobs for them, such as cleaning up the mess those hooligans made of Boston Harbor with their tea party.

“You know, if I had been a community organizer in Philadelphia back in 1776, I’d have said to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, ‘Hey, let’s cool the independence talk. How about if we meet over at my house for a few beers with the Tory leaders? I’m sure we can talk things out.’”

Emanuel: “Tell one of the Secret Service guys to tackle him!”

Obama: “In conclusion, Americans made a bad mistake with the revolution. All that stuff about individual rights and limited government badly delayed our progress into becoming a socially just nation. That’s what I’m finally going to do, if my un-American opponents will just stop talking and get out of the way. Thank you very much.”

The camera swings to show the hand-picked audience applauding wildly. Emanuel and Gibbs stare at the scroll at the bottom of the screen: “Secretary of State Clinton announces formation of 2012 campaign committee.”

George Leef, a writer in Raleigh, N.C., is the author of Free Choice for Workers: A History of the Right to Work Movement.
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