Friday, May 30, 2008

Barack Obama, The First Hundred Days

January 20, 2009
Watch TV as that old fart McCain is sworn in as President. I can’t believe that harridan Hillary bailed on me and accepted the Vice Presidential slot on the Republican ticket. Phone rings but I don’t answer. Call display shows it’s Al Gore probably wanting to commiserate again. No way I’m joining that loser in Loserville.

January 26
Channel all energies into tracking down members of Reverend Wright’s Trinity United Church Veterans for Truth. You’d think that old coot would have had the decency to at least shut up during the final campaign. The last lead I had was that Bill Clinton was behind all this.

January 31
Michelle issues ultimatum: either I stop moping around the house in bathrobe all day or she’ll banish me to the living room sofa. Her words hit me like a cold splash of water. Stop watching C-SPAN in hopes of finding ongoing election recounts.

February 2
Groundhog Day. If I see my own shadow, there’ll be six more years of Republican rule. If I don’t, there’ll be eight. Back to bed. What’s the point?

February 9
Concerned about McCain’s reform proposal, visit local Social Security office and enquire about filing early application for benefits. Informed that qualifying age is 67 and reminded that I am still employed by U. S. Senate. Vow to attend at least one sitting in current session.

February 15
Out of desperation, finally decide to answer Al Gore’s call. Instantly regret decision. Al rambles on suggesting I grow beard, put on weight and teach at obscure backwoods university. Finally cut him off by telling him I have Democratic filibuster to attend in Senate.

February 26
Try again to phone Hillary but she still won’t take my calls. Even Jimmy Carter won’t talk to me.

March 1
Note that President McCain is not looking well. His skin is that pasty white you see at Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow concerts.

March 10
Bored silly. To pass time, make prank calls to Queen Elizabeth and ask if she’s got Prince Charles in a can. When she replies curtly "Who is this?", I tell her she better let him out and quickly hang up. Consider calling back and asking for Harry Butz.

March 23
Evening news shows report McCain admitted to hospital for undisclosed ailment.

April 1
Front page of my morning N. Y. Times features article reporting Supreme Court reopening issue of potential voter fraud in Ohio, Michigan and Florida in last election. Reporter’s speculation about possible Obama victory gets me re-energized. When I excitedly relay news to Michelle she announces "April Fool’s" and informs me that she had mock front page printed off web site. We both share a laugh and I retire to my room for quiet cry.

April 16
McCain still in hospital. If his health doesn’t improve soon, it looks like Hillary may be temporarily in charge. Damn!

April 29
Shocking news. President McCain is dead. Rumors abound about possible poisoning but the official cause of death is listed as "old age." I can’t believe it; that harpy Hillary is now President and she’s choosing Bill as her Vice President. What else can go wrong?

April 30
Hillary calls or at least I think it was Hillary. All I heard was "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!" and then a dial tone. Oh, well, there’s always 2012.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Medicare Bill Aims to Fix Crisis

Both the House and the Senate have passed a bill to deal with the looming Medicare crisis and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law as early as next week. Instead of cutting back on benefits, which would have been politically unpopular, the new law will place a $1,000 bounty on the head of every citizen over the age of 75.

Most members of Congress see this as a win-win situation as the law will not only cut costs but will also likely significantly reduce the number of Medicare claimants. However, a few naysayers such as 90-year old Senator Robert C. Byrd are somewhat less sanguine.

"I can certainly see how this new legislation will reduce our healthcare commitments," said the aging West Virginia senator. "But I’m not sure it will benefit me or many of my friends."

Alaska’s senior senator, 85-year old Ted Stevens, was even more negative about the new law.
"I’m not totally against the bounty provision," said Stevens. "But when my colleagues didn’t even have the decency to write in an exemption for me and a handful of others, I really took offense."

The new law is slated to come into force just in time for the busy summer driving season. Senior citizens will be given fair warning about the new bounty but it is doubtful many of them will be able to take appropriate precautions in time.

"We expect this new provision will be particularly appealing to big city cab drivers," said government spokesperson I. M. A. Bureaucrat. "They’ll now likely be able to afford to buy a new taxi within days rather than years."

Although the new law will definitely help reduce increasing medical costs, some supporters were disappointed that the handgun rider did not pass.

"If we could have allowed unlimited handgun access to hospitals, seniors’ residences and retirement communities," said Mr. Bureaucrat. "I think we could have solved our healthcare crisis by the end of the year."

Monday, May 26, 2008

A New American Election

Like most Canadians, I’m a fan of many things American. From American movies to American sports to American television, I just can’t get enough of what you folks have on offer.

But when it comes to Presidential elections, I think I’ve finally had enough. Don’t get me wrong; up until now, I’ve enjoyed following your quadrennial races for The White House. After all, where else can you watch a slate of Republican and Democratic high flyers go after one another for months at a time?

But, in the end, that’s the problem. Your elections are no longer just political marathons. Now they’re the equivalent of a Presidential triathlon.

As a Canadian, I’m used to much shorter elections. Five weeks, to be exact. In fact, it looks like an election may be called here any day now and it will be over even before you folks have chosen your two Presidential nominees.

Now I can hear some of you saying: "But what kind of process is that? How can you discuss all the issues in five weeks? And how can you test a candidate’s mettle in the crucible of political combat in such a short time?"

Well, in my experience, you can. Five weeks is plenty of time for candidates to canvass the issues, debate their opponents and appeal to the electorate. And as for testing a candidate’s suitability for higher office, all that your drawn out process demonstrates is that some candidates can survive the rigors of the campaign trail for up to two years.

Surviving such a process may be a badge of honor but I’m not sure it ensures that you end up with the best and the brightest leading your country. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to such a grind? Isn’t it likely that a shorter campaign might encourage more leaders from the business, academic and military communities to come forward and offer their services to the nation?

Another drawback to your current structure is the limited choice for the average citizen. In most Presidential elections, the voter gets to choose between two candidates, the Democratic and Republican nominees. Occasionally, you also get a serious third party candidate although there’s seldom a realistic chance that he or she can do more than act as a spoiler.

In contrast to your two-party system, we Canadians have five or six viable options to choose from. They span the political spectrum from the Conservative Party on the right to the quasi-socialist New Democratic Party on the left. We even have the environmentally-friendly Green Party and a separatist option in the Bloc Quebecois for independence-minded voters in Quebec.

Such a wealth of choices lends itself to a more engaged electorate. We’re not exemplary in this regard but I’m sure our sixty per cent plus voter turnout for federal elections tops your participation rates in recent years.

Having many parties represented helps to moderate the views of the government of the day. It also helps to promote and ultimately enact more progressive legislation such as gun control, gay marriage, legalized marijuana and public health care.

Some criticize our multi-party system as inefficient because it sometimes leads to a minority government where the party in power only has a plurality of seats in the House of Commons. But a minority government is not always a bad thing. In order to stay in power, such a government must seek support from other parties which often leads to productive compromises. In fact, some commentators have lauded minority governments as more efficient, more responsive and more reflective of the popular will than their cumbersome majority counterparts.

The Canadian electoral system is by no means perfect. But given the limitations of the American process and its inability to reflect the will of the people, it may indeed be time for a change this year: a wholesale change to the way you choose your national leader.

Friday, May 23, 2008

No One Over 67 Votes

With the U. S. Presidential election on the horizon, there’s talk once more of extending the vote to sixteen-year-olds. But rather than expanding the electorate, I think we should be restricting it by denying the vote to one or more of these questionable constituencies:

Anyone 67 or older
Why should these folks get to vote? They’re already feeding at the Social Security trough and dining at the Medicare buffet. Plus many of them are drawing down generous pension benefits. Do you really think they’re capable of making selfless, objective decisions for the good of the country? Not on your life. All they care about is more Social Security and more free drugs.

Any member of the AARP
(see above)

Anyone turning 40, 50 or 60
Remember when you turned 40 or 50 or maybe even 60? Chances are you were so depressed that you barely functioned for the entire year. Let’s face it; a person in that condition shouldn’t be trusted with something as important as a Presidential vote.

People who took out a subprime mortgage
Would you really want your future to be decided by someone who bought a house with no money down and a mortgage with a two-year, artificially low teaser rate of interest? Exactly. The country’s in enough debt without having these crazy spendthrifts helping to add even more.

Anyone whose current age is a prime number
There’s something decidedly odd about prime numbers. It’s hard to trust anything that’s only divisible by itself and one. Why take a chance? Disqualify these folks outright. After all, it’s not as if everybody’s shut out. Just those who are 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 51, 53, 57 and 61.

Men who sport combovers
Guys who are that into denial shouldn’t get a say in who runs the country. If you think three or four two-foot strands of hair can cover an entire bald pate, how will you ever be able to discriminate between two equally skilled dissemblers running for President?

Anyone who voted for George W. Bush in 2004
As Bush himself said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool can’t get fooled again." But millions of folks did get fooled a second time by "W" himself. By any reasonable standard, they’ve definitely forfeited their votes. (This rule may also apply to those who voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 and for Jimmy Carter at any time.)

Ideally, all of these rules should be implemented which would help winnow out the unqualified from the electorate leaving only reliable voters. Which, by the way, might only be you and me. And, as they say, I’m not so sure about you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain Picks Running Mate

After weeks of speculation, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has finally revealed who will be his vice presidential running mate. Many assumed that the second spot would go to a politician. Some had assumed John McCain would opt for a young, conservative Republican to balance the ticket, someone like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Others felt that the wiser choice would be to go with an older, more experienced politician such as Rudy Giuliani.

At a Washington, D. C. press conference, Senator McCain made the much-awaited announcement with his new running mate waiting in the wings.

"I gave it a lot of thought," said the Arizona senator. "I thought about choosing someone older than me, younger than me, more conservative than me. I even considered picking Dick Cheney to run again. In the end, however, the choice was blindingly obvious."

Turning stage left, McCain stretched out his left hand and beckoned the new Republican number two: Tyra Banks.

To thunderous applause and several ribald catcalls, Ms. Banks sashayed to the podium in a mauve Versace dress with modest decolletage. The former supermodel and current host of "American’s Next Top Model" clasped McCain’s shoulders, lifted her left leg, bent over and planted a kiss on the senator’s forehead.

"What’s not to love about this woman?" said McCain. "She’s the perfect vice presidential candidate. She’s everything I’m not: young, black, female and very, very hot. If nothing else, I’m definitely going to pick up a lot of the beer-drinking, college-age male vote."

"I’m happy to be Senator McCain’s running mate," said Ms. Banks. "He has demonstrated week after week the maturity and sophistication we’ve been looking for in a candidate seeking to become America’s top political model."

"I think you’ll all recall that it wasn’t that long ago that the senator was counted out of the campaign," said Banks. "But he didn’t quit. Instead, he came back the following weeks and took his inner beauty, turned it inside out and dazzled everyone with his poise and charm. That’s the kind of man I want to see walking down the White House runway. Plus, given his age, I figure the chances of me taking over within the next four years are at least fifty-fifty."

Senator McCain smiled, gave Ms. Banks a hug and declared: "I can’t think of a better way to go."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Polygamy Made Legal

"I do! I do! I do!"

With those six words, Utah Governor Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr. simultaneously signed into law a bill making polygamy legal and married three new wives.

"It’s a great day for the great state of Utah," proclaimed Governor Huntsman. "Not only are we restoring our great polygamous heritage, we’re opening up a whole new market for our growing tourist industry.

Asked to elaborate, Huntsman detailed plans to make Utah the multiple marriage capital of America.

"As I see it," said the much-married governor. "It’s a win-win situation for Utah. Not only do we get to be real Mormons again. We also get to welcome all those men looking to take on more than one wife."

"We’ve done some market research and discovered that there are different segments of the population that will likely make use of our services," said Huntsman.

Apparently one of those segments comprises male Hollywood stars who are currently serially monogamous but are tired of the financial obligations associated with multiple divorces.

"I wish I’d had this option years ago," said aging star Mickey Rooney. "Having been married eight times and divorced seven, those alimony checks really start to add up. If I could have just stayed married to all those broads, I could have saved a bundle."

Another segment is made up of America’s leading business executives. For years, these men have competed with one another not only through the accumulation of wealth but also by acquiring the youngest and prettiest trophy wife.

"I think there’s a definite market to be tapped," said Governor Huntsman. "If one trophy wife is good, surely two is better and three even more desirable. I think you’re going to see a whole new field of competition opening up for Fortune 500 executives."

Male politicians are also warming to Utah’s new offering. Rather than engage in risky extra-marital affairs and dalliances, certain high-needs officeholders can now satisfy their urges within the law.

"I think it’s just great," said former President Bill Clinton. "After all, a man has needs."

Hillary Clinton was initially cool to the new "Utah option" but has apparently come on board with her sponsorship of a new bill to make polyandry legal in New York State.

"What’s saucy for the gander is saucy for the goose," said Hillary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Real Beijing Olympics

As with past Olympic Games, the host country gets to choose a demonstration sport, typically one that it excels in. Chinese Olympic Committee spokesperson Wu Hu Hu recently announced the committee’s list of nominated sports and competitions to be voted on at their next meeting:

Tibetan Tipping
Practised in select western provinces, Tibetan tipping has been popular with many Chinese for over fifty years. The competition starts with a handful of Tibetans politely asking for autonomy within the Peoples’ Republic. Teams of ethnic Chinese then take turns "tipping" the Tibetans. The first team to silence the Tibetans’s pleas for limited self-government is declared the winner.

Mao Maoing

In honor of the nation’s founder, teams of free enterprise afficianados compete in this uniquely Chinese mental gymnastics competition. Each team seeks to introduce a particular modern economic reform while at the same time rationalizing it with traditional Maoist thought. The team that realizes the biggest financial profit without breaching any of the key tenets of Mao’s version of Marxism-Leninism wins a simulated gold medal and the eternal gratification of the proletariat.

Internet Accessing
What might appear to be an easy task for western competitors becomes difficult when attempted within Chinese jurisdictions. Teams of three computer users compete to see which one can circumvent government filters, restrictions and firewalls to gain access to forbidden web sites. The first team to log on to either or wins a modest trophy and a free ten-week stay at the closest reeducation spa and camp.

Buffet Resistance
A two-stage competition, buffet resistance is an eating contest with a twist. The first round requires contestants to eat a varied selection from a traditional buffet of MSG-laden Chinese food until completely sated. Round two takes place exactly one hour later at which time any contestant who can resist eating again is declared a winner.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Consumer Reports's Presidential Issue

"Consumer Reports" rates the 2008 Presidential models:

The Barack Obama
From the Henry Ford school of candidates, the Obama comes in any color you’d like so long as it’s black. And that may be its biggest shortcoming. Although few consumers will publicly admit it, many like their cars the same way they like their milk: white.
Despite that handicap, the Obama seems to be catching on with the public. It has a young, sleek styling with impressive initial performance. Among all the candidates we tested, the Obama was the fastest to go from zero to one thousand delegates.
However, consumers should be wary of the Obama’s ability to finish. Although it still sounded smooth at the end of our test run, the suspension seemed a bit weak and tended to be easily thrown off by a few dirty tricks.

The John McCain
Ironically, this model actually does appear to be your father’s Oldsmobile. The styling on the McCain is old to the point of being almost retro. The lines are straight and its gas milage can only be described as conservative.
When we first tested the McCain eight years ago, we found it to be moderate in most categories. The 2008 model initially appeared to be similar in output and performance. However, after a few laps around our test track, we found the McCain had a definite tendency to pull to the right.
The McCain’s major disadvantage is that it has been built using the discredited Bush chassis. Unless it can adopt a whole new position on that frame or it can ditch that chassis entirely, it looks to be beaten by every other candidate out there, even the Democrats.

The Hillary Clinton
The Clinton claims to be the best performing candidate with a track record second to none. Its handlers claim that it has the experience to blow the doors off the competition.
However, when we looked under the Clinton’s hood, we found the promised performance to be somewhat lacking. The claimed experience turns out to be little more than a few laps around someone else’s Oval Office.
Although the Clinton has won a race or two on its own, it owes much of its success to its big-muscled predecessor, the Bill Clinton. It remains to be seen if its spunky four-cylinder engine can provide the same results as its big-blocked forerunner.
In past years, we’ve recommended at least one of the competing models and even check-rated the occasional entry as a "best buy." However, after our picks of the Al Gore in 2000 and the John Kerry in 2004 were bypassed by consumers for the surprisingly lightweight and unreliable George W. Bush, we are reluctant to give our seal of approval to any of the current crop. This year, we recommend you just close your eyes, hold your nose and choose one. After all, in the end, it really doesn’t matter since you’ll still be taken for a ride.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A House Is Not A Home

The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
24 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I understand you may be in a bit of a bind regarding adequate living quarters. From what I hear, Auditor General Sheila Fraser says your house is close to being a tear-down. At the very least, it apparently needs massive renovations that will take upwards of fifteen months to complete.

I thought that, as a fellow employee of the Crown, I might be able to help out. Sad to say, I can’t offer you accommodations for your entire family. But I can at least offer you a place to stay while they’re working on your place.

I live with my wife and daughter in a modest, three-bedroom bungalow in southeast Ottawa. Since there are only three of us, we have a spare bedroom that you’re welcome to use. I wouldn’t expect much in the way of payment - say, $250 a month plus GST which, as you know, is now a bargain at a mere 5%.

Your rent would entitle you to the use of our TV and home computer. We don’t have high speed Internet access and my daughter has to use it sometimes for her homework. But otherwise, it’s pretty much available for prime ministerial correspondence, secret search warrants, letters of termination or whatever else you need it for.

As for board, that’s negotiable with my wife. After all, as you no doubt recognize, in Canada, there is no free lunch. But I’m sure we can come to some agreement on at least a daily continental breakfast and a hot meal for dinner. Anyway, having seen you on TV, it looks like you wouldn’t mind going on a bit of a diet.

Alternatively, we could provide you with a small fridge and a hot plate for your room. Then you can make your own meals and snacks and even keep a few beers on hand. If you’re not a big drinker, I actually don’t mind if you keep half a dozen of your favorite brand in my beer fridge in the basement. So long as you don’t mix them in with mine. I don’t know about you but I’m not a big fan of Labatt Blue. No offense, I hope.

I don’t know what your tastes are in the way of TV viewing but we’re fairly flexible. Except for my daughter who has to see "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and "The Hills" every week without fail. But otherwise, I think we can likely accommodate your viewing preferences so long as they don’t involve the Toronto Maple Leafs or Mike Duffy.

Now I imagine you’re probably a bit concerned about getting to work and back. Not a problem. As I said, we live in southeast Ottawa and I work over in Hull. So I could drop you off on my way to work in the morning at the corner of Sussex and Rideau and then you’re only a five-minute walk from your office.

As for getting back at night, so long as you’re OK with leaving work at 4:30, I could pick you up on my way home. In fact, if you’d like, we could even meet at the Chateau Lafayette in the Market for a draft or two before we head home. Who knows? It might even help you keep in touch with the common man.

One thing I have to warn you about. We own a dog. His name is Oreo and he’s a very nice Portuguese Water Dog. But, to be honest, he doesn’t like cats. So I’m afraid we couldn’t board your cat while you’re staying with us. Frankly, I don’t know what Oreo thinks about Tories but he hasn’t bitten anyone yet and we’ve had some pretty right-of-center guests over the years.

Now, as for payment, I understand that your employment situation is a bit tenuous. But don’t worry. Even if you should lose your job, we wouldn’t kick you out. If you’re handy around the house, I’m more than willing to let you work off some of your rent by taking on the odd chore or two. No need to thank me. After all, it’s the Canadian thing to do.

Yours truly,

Dave Martin

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Keep the Primaries Going

With the results in from Indiana and North Carolina, some folks are calling for an end to this seemingly interminable primary season. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Barack Obama has an insurmountable lead and that Hillary Clinton should do the gracious thing and concede. After all, apart from Montana and South Dakota, the candidates have pretty much run out of places to keep the fight going. Or have they?

Might I suggest that the battle continue here on Canadian soil. We’ve got ten provinces with not much happening lately and I’m sure every one of them would love to have their own Democratic presidential primary or caucus.

In case you haven’t noticed, we Canadians have been following your presidential primary races with rapt attention. It’s not just the fact that whatever happens in the U. S. has a big effect on us. It’s also that, even at the best of times, political life in the Great White North is, how should I put it, kind of boring.

From Iowa to New Hampshire, from New York to California, from Super Tuesday to not-so-super Tuesday, we’ve been following your contests as if they were our own. So why not let us join in and have one last kick at the presidential primary can?

Take a look at Canada. It’s a perfect battleground for Democrats. Our national political philosophy is a kind of vague, muddied liberalism, basically the same type of thinking that guides the Democratic Party.

And we already have many of the things that Democrats claim to want. From gun control to same sex marriage to socialized medicine, we are, in essence, the Democrats’ promised land.
That’s why it just makes good sense to let the Obama-Clinton slugfest spill over into Canada.

You may not want to formally recognize the Canadian results in choosing the Democratic presidential candidate. But why not consider substituting the foregone Florida and Michigan votes with the Canadian ones? Or, better yet, have the superdelegates be bound by them.

If Obama or Clinton can manage to take both Ontario and Quebec, for example, that’s a clear indication that they’ve got the magic touch. After all, even Canadians can’t get these two provinces to agree on anything and we’ve been trying for over140 years.

Likewise, if one candidate can capture both the redneck Albertans and the laidback Nova Scotians, that’s a sure sign of a winner. Or at least it’s a sign that someone has discovered a brand of beer that both these groups like.

I can’t imagine any province turning down the chance to host one of the Democrats’ contests, be it a primary or a caucus. After all, the publicity would be good for tourism and now that all the Canadian teams have been knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, frankly, we’ve got nothing better to do until curling season starts up again in the fall.

So if you get to the Puerto Rico primary on June 7th and you still haven’t picked a Democratic candidate, don’t despair. Just head north and keep the campaigns going. Remember, the convention isn’t until the end of August. What better way to spend the summer than crisscrossing our great country in search of even more votes?

And who knows? Maybe it’ll be such a rousing success that the loser will choose to stay and run for office here. Given our current charismatically-challenged leader, it wouldn’t take much to replace him. Prime Minister Clinton or Prime Minister Obama. Kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Stupidest Question Ever

Most observers thought last month’s ABC-sponsored debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama marked the nadir in stupid questions. It seemed as if co-moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were trying to outdo one another in posing inane queries to the two candidates.

First Gibson asked them both to pledge that the winner would pick the loser as his or her Vice Presidential running mate. Then Stephanopoulos asked about Obama’s relationship with former political radical William Ayers.

Gibson one-upped (or one-downed, if you will) Stephanopoulos by asking Clinton about Snipergate. But the former White House press secretary topped (or bottomed, if you will) Gibson by asking Obama if Reverend Wright was as patriotic as he was.

Viewers were puzzled by this unseemly display by two formerly respected newsmen. Why would they risk their reputations and that of their network by playing such a silly game of "gotcha" journalism?

Well, it turns out Gibson and Stephanopoulos knew exactly what they were doing all along. The series of increasingly ridiculous questions was, in fact, a competition between the two men to see who would take permanent possession of the anchor position on the ABC Evening News.

"Yeah, I admit it," said Stephanopoulos. "Charlie and I secretly agreed to put the anchor chair up for grabs. Whoever came up with the stupidest question at the debate would be declared the winner."

"Look," said Gibson. "It’s not something I’m proud of but when George suggested it, it kind of made sense. I just didn’t think it would get this far out of hand."

Notwithstanding the surfeit of inane questions asked at the debate, neither moderator was able to claim ultimate victory. Apparently both had even more ridiculous questions in hand but didn’t get a chance to pose them to the candidates.

"I was going to ask Hillary if she’d stopped beating her husband," said Stephanopoulos. "But unfortunately we ran out of time."

"If we had just five more minutes," said Gibson. "I was going to ask Barack whether he wears boxers or briefs."

Since the competition ended in a draw, the all-time stupidest question asked by a reporter remains Sean Hannity’s query of George W. Bush as to whether he knew the number for 911. Sadly, the President did not.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Torch Retires

In a surprise move, Olympic Torch has withdrawn his services from the ceremonial relay. Apparently he found the constant stress of protests and route changes too much to take and handed in his resignation yesterday.

"I wanted to complete the trip," said Mr. Torch, "But given all the disruptions, I can’t take the pressure any more."

Forgotten in all the media coverage is the effect the recent protests have had on the relay’s most important participant: Mr. Torch. Ensuring a constant flame in the midst of angry crowds has not been easy for him.

"You think it’s easy staying lit all the time?" said Torch. "Trust me, it’s difficult to keep your flame going at the best of times what with the wind and the rain and all. But throw in a few thousand protesters and it’s next to impossible to keep burning 24/7."

In fact, on at least one occasion on his current tour, Torch had to relinquish his flame in the face of an overwhelming crowd. He was reignited shortly after but that incident clearly took its toll.
"I take pride in my job, you know," said the noted flame carrier. "I’m sure a lot of people think it’s an easy job. Light the flame, carry the flame, go back to Greece."

"But there’s a lot more to it than that," said Torch. "You have to know how to lean just right in order to get lit from the eternal flame in Athens. You have to know when to pass off the flame to a backup torch. And you have to keep the fire steady even when some flatfooted, overweight runner is carrying you through some godforsaken city in the middle of nowhere."

Letting his frustration show, Olympic Torch started shouting about abusive spectators and a general lack of respect from the public. He briefly started crying but quickly regained his composure.

"I may be quitting," he said. "But I’m still a professional. I’m not going to let a few hotheads make me turn on the waterworks and douse the flame. After all, I still have my pride."

When asked if he was stepping down to spend more time with his family, Torch became indignant.

"What the hell do you think I am," he shouted. "A politician? If I can’t do the job, it’s because it’s just too darned hard."

Rumors abound that Torch may yet make a comeback but the fire-topped beacon had little to say.

"I’ve learned in this business never to say never," said Torch. "But I doubt you’ll see me again for at least two or possibly four years. For now, I just want to go home and see my wife Flashlight and all my little matchsticks."