Magazine | March 21, 2011, Issue

Presidential Daily Briefing

Good Morning, Sir. 

The current temperature in Washington, D.C., is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly 4 degrees in the more universally accepted Celsius scale.

The weather today will be sunny, with clear skies.

Your next scheduled vacation: 30 minutes away.


Your Gallup-poll approval ratings remain in the 50-plus range, with slightly lower results in the Rasmussen tracking polls. Overnight focus-group results show a firming of opinion in two major areas: Handling of the Economy and On the Wrong Track. We will monitor this situation and advise.

Last night, 34 percent of the jokes made by Jay Leno were political in nature, with fewer than half negative-to-indifferent toward Yourself. David Letterman and Conan O’Brien focused mainly on the continuing troubles of television actor Charlie Sheen, although both utilized 3 percent of their opening monologues to criticize the perceived inactivity of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as regards the unfolding events in the Middle East. (Please see below for an update on those matters.)

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, hosts of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report respectively, continue to be broadly and reliably supportive.

Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s flagship news and commentary program, maintains her almost 100 percent support. At one or two moments last night she seemed close to arching an eyebrow in a critical way, but both times declined to do so. We will continue to monitor this crisis and will advise.

Your next scheduled vacation: 25 minutes away.


The Crisis in Wisconsin continues to escalate. The leader of that troubled state, Scott Walker, while democratically elected, nevertheless continues to defy the crowds that have gathered around the capitol building. This situation has been a hot-button issue for your administration, and we continue to recommend constant, vocal, round-the-clock support for the protesters in that troubled region.

You have deployed several wings of the Organizing for America strike force, and these continue to be effective, both in a tactical boots-on-the-ground sense and in a message capacity. However, as the crisis spreads to other areas in the region — specifically: Indiana and Michigan — it may be necessary to deploy larger forces and make a deeper commitment to the events as they unfold. We suggest positioning forces from SEIU and OforA in friendly areas near the region.

A War Room has been set up in the West Wing basement. Please feel free to visit at your convenience.


Former Chief of Staff Emanuel continues to serve as mayor of Chicago.

Your recent bestselling book, Of Thee I Sing, continues to sell well in all major bookstores, despite the recent — and unrelated — bankruptcy of the Borders nationwide chain. Several movie studios have inquired about the rights. We will monitor this situation and advise.

Response to your recent “cameo” appearance on the 83rd annual Oscar™ ceremony’s telecast continues to be overwhelmingly positive. Randomly selected comments from blogs, editorial pages, and talk radio uniformly praise your pleasant demeanor, ease on camera, and “ability to find the time” to appear, “considering all that’s going on in the world.”

Your next scheduled vacation: 20 minutes away.

Response to Attorney General Holder’s announcement that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act will no longer be defended by the Department of Justice because of its unconstitutionality has been muted. Frankly, we expected that it would be a bigger deal across all media outlets, but it appears that most are currently “obsessed” with the events in the Middle East. We suggest continuing to press forward with important domestic concerns — DOMA nullification; the State of Wisconsin’s budget shortfall — and allow these distractions to subside. The press, as always, will return in due course.


Rebel forces in Libya continue to press forward into the capital of Tripoli. Leader-Strongman Muammar Khaddafy, while democratically elected, continues to defy the crowds that have gathered to demand his resignation. We recommend a hands-off policy.

Bahrain continues to simmer.

Food riots in Yemen have led to dozens of casualties.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia continues on the throne.

The State of Israel remains located between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 34° and 36° E.

Iran has the bomb.

Next vacation: Now! Enjoy it, Sir. You’ve earned it!

In This Issue



Politics & Policy

It’s Not Just Wisconsin

The knock-down, drag-out fight in Wisconsin isn’t about how much public employees will pay toward their pensions and health-insurance premiums. As union members have loudly insisted, they are willing to ...
Politics & Policy

Real Marriage

It’s the fall of 2006. John Partilla, an Upper West Side advertising executive, meets Carol Anne Riddell, a local news anchor. Like-minded and both brimming with energy, they hit it ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

The Fischer King

Chess plays an important role in the fiction of Lewis Carroll and Vladimir Nabokov, and in the film of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the characters play chess ...
The Straggler

Recycling the Sixties

It starts! January 20, the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, passed with little comment, so far as I could judge. Then the public-sector unions of Wisconsin began demonstrating ...


Politics & Policy


Constitutional Nullities Allen C. Guelzo asks “just what it is that modern nullificationists don’t understand about supreme,” referring to Article VI of the Constitution and the “supremacy clause” (“Nullification Temptation,” February 21). What ...

Statuary Sense

For some on the left, the default Republican position on art is generally assumed to be a) hatred of anything that isn’t a crucifixion scene painted by Norman Rockwell, or ...
The Long View

Presidential Daily Briefing

Good Morning, Sir.  The current temperature in Washington, D.C., is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly 4 degrees in the more universally accepted Celsius scale. The weather today will be sunny, with ...
Politics & Policy


VERISMO – Gentile Bellini, Constantinople, 1480 Perhaps this fits in some Vasari-like Apocrypha? Sultan Mehmet II, They say, presented by Bellini with An oil of John the Baptist’s severed head, Repined: the painting wasn’t true to ...
Happy Warrior

Banzai Bureaucrats

It isn’t easy being a public-sector-union leader these days. “This is beyond insane,” said Steve Smith, president of the Providence Teachers’ Union in Rhode Island, reacting to the city’s latest ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Making Sense of the Iran Chaos

One would prefer that correct decisions be made according to careful, deliberate plan. But a correct decision made impulsively, through a troubling process, is still nonetheless correct, and so it is with Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from military action against Iran. The proposed strike would represent a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Pro-Abortion Nonsense from John Irving

The novelist has put up a lot of easy targets in his New York Times op-ed. I am going to take aim at six of his points, starting with his strongest one. First: Irving asserts that abortion was legal in our country from Puritan times until the 1840s, at least before “quickening.” That’s an overstatement. ... Read More