'You Hear Me, Barack?'

sit room Bin Laden, Ben Ghazi, Whatever

One of Steve's favorite devices is to go inside the corridors of power, transform himself into a fly on the wall and then report back. Here's a splendid example:


 White House Situation Room

September 11, 2012

LEON PANETTA: [to aide] Call the Residence. On speaker.

[First Lady answers]


PANETTA: Leon Panetta, Ma’am. We need the president in the Situation Room ASAP.

MICHELLE: He’s busy playing Ragnarök II— the Awakening on his Xbox. His forces are in the middle of a decisive action. Can’t you handle the problem?

PANETTA: Uh, no Ma’am.

MICHELLE: Oh for God’s sake. [yells] Barack! Pick up! It’s Panetta!!

OBAMA: Jeez, Leon. What’s so important? I’ve just breached Rozamin’s redoubt; Castle Covenant’s ripe for the taking. It’ll set the Outliers back on their heels for months.

PANETTA: Trouble sir, Benghazi. I . . .

OBAMA: Ben Ghazi? The Israeli Defense Minister?

PANETTA: No, sir. Our consulate in Libya. Ambassador Stevens and his team are under attack. OBAMA: Leon, weeks went into planning this siege. You want me to suspend the operation and come down there to do what, exactly?

PANETTA: Sir, only you possess the authority to . . .

OBAMA: Leon, I authorize you to do whatever successfully resolves the situation and accrues to my benefit. Should things blow up in our faces, it’s on you. I was out of the loop. Clear?

PANETTA: Yes, sir.

MICHELLE: [in background] Barack! Zulu 4 is in. They want to know if they should proceed to the Chamber of the Gods.

OBAMA: Gotta go, Leon. My people need me. I want good news in the morning.

[next day]

OBAMA: I’ll make this quick, everyone. I can get nine holes in if I arrive a little early in Vegas for the fundraiser. The official story is, the FBI has launched a probe of last night’s events in Benghazi. Attorney General Holder promises a full accounting at some indeterminate point in the future, when the incident is forgotten or I’ve left office, whichever comes first.

DIANE SAWYER: Sir, why don’t we just ignore Benghazi the way we’ve done with “Fast and Furious,” Solyndra, the Black Panther whitewash, the . . .

OBAMA: I understand, Diane.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: I agree with her, sir.. The incident doesn’t impact the lives of ordinary Americans. Why even bring the matter up?

WOLF BLITZER: The story’s already broken out.

JAY CARNEY: Exactly. So, downplay it. With ten seconds left at the end of the broadcast after, for example, the plight of Yellowstone’s wild burros, refer to an incident in Libya that’s still being sorted out.

SCOTT PELLEY: What a coincidence! The wild burros story is our lead tonight.