Magazine | November 29, 2010, Issue

POTUS Communication Surveillance Transcript

POTUS Communication Surveillance Transcript


[Static. Ringing.]


POTUS: Bill? It’s Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Hey! Greetings, Mr. President.

POTUS: Did I call at a bad time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: No, no. Hey, it’s always a good time around here. Just a sec. Can you hold on a second?

POTUS: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: No, not you, Mr. President. I was talking to . . . Honey, baby, can you give me a moment here? Just get some cashews from the minibar and I’ll be right there. Can you hand me a Fiji water, baby? Thanks. Okay. Just let me . . . um . . . put some stuff . . . back where . . . it belongs . . . and . . . okay. I’m back, Mr. President. What can I do for you?

POTUS: Well, Bill, as you know, our side took a beating last week. And I’m reaching out to you because you experienced the same thing in 1994.

BILL CLINTON: Not quite as bad.

POTUS: Depends on how you look at it.

BILL CLINTON: Let’s not quibble. You’re reaching out to me, which you haven’t done before, and I get it. This is hard for you, isn’t it?

POTUS: No, it’s not.

BILL CLINTON: Come on. This is killing you! Asking for advice? From me? This . . . is . . . killing . . . you!

POTUS: You know what? I’m sorry I called. Goodbye.

BILL CLINTON: No, no. Wait. Please. I’m sorry. I was just funnin’ with you. I’m here for you. Okay? Don’t get mad.

POTUS: Okay. Look. I just want to hear how you handled it. When you lost the House and it looked like your whole agenda was going to be stalled, staff morale was low, what did you do?

BILL CLINTON: Yeah. Tough times. I hear you. Well, I guess the first thing I’d ask is, what’s your usual way of dealing with setbacks?

POTUS: Not following you.

BILL CLINTON: I mean, okay, for me, I eat a dozen doughnuts and a couple of pizzas and cry for a couple of hours and have a cheeseburger and pick up a couple of girls and then get some fried chicken. Then I get everyone together and yell at them for a while until my throat hurts and then I feel guilty and have some ice cream and then make a list of people to fire, do that, take a nap, have a couple of Snickers bars and a steak sandwich and by then I feel better. What’s your process?

#page#POTUS: Good Lord. You eat all that?

BILL CLINTON: Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s over several hours, so it’s not like I’m just sitting there in a pile of food. Mostly.

POTUS: No wonder you have heart trouble.

BILL CLINTON: You’ve got a better system? I’m all ears.

POTUS: I prefer to deal with things by sitting quietly and bottling up my rage.

BILL CLINTON: And you think I’m the one with the heart trouble? C’mon! What do you do when everything just goes south on you?

POTUS: I . . . well, I don’t know what I do.

BILL CLINTON: What does that mean? What have you done in the past when you’ve had a setback?

POTUS: I’ve never had one of those.

BILL CLINTON: Seriously? Seriously?

POTUS: Oh, sure, I’ve had disappointments.

BILL CLINTON: For instance?

POTUS: Well, I was a little disappointed not to have won more electoral votes in 2008.

BILL CLINTON: You kill me. That’s it? That’s the trouble with you, amigo. You’ve got no stink on you. By the time I was in your shoes, you know how many butts I’d kissed? How many cow pies I’d eaten?

POTUS: Why is that necessary?

BILL CLINTON: Why? It’s training, my friend. Training for this moment right here. The voters baked you a pie. You’d best start eating it.

POTUS: To be fair, this isn’t really a me thing. The voters didn’t reject my policies. We just didn’t communicate well enough about the things we accomplished. The voters were confused and angry and were, frankly, not well informed about the size of the –

BILL CLINTON: Hey, stop. Okay? Stop right there. I’ve got to be honest with you. I’ve got this hotel suite for another couple of hours — I’m coming, baby, you just enjoy the cashews and chill — and I don’t really want to sit here and listen to what you’re saying to MSNBC, okay? You want to turn this stuff around, you’ve got to start with the man in the mirror.

POTUS: But this isn’t about me.

BILL CLINTON: Okay, pal. It’s not about you. It’s about some other guy in the White House. Look, I’m a little busy here — don’t press that button, sugar, we don’t need to buy a movie — so why don’t we talk later, when whoever this midterm was about can come to the phone?

POTUS: Wait. I just –

BILL CLINTON: Hey, baby, come over here to papa and –

[Click. Static.]

END EXTRACT 12:11:04

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