President Re-Election Does the Vision Thing: A Play in One Utopian Act.

No, You Cannot. Have a Nice Day!

No, You Cannot. Have a Nice Day!

THE SCENE: A five-star hotel suite somewhere in America. (What – you thought he’d actually be at home, doing his job?) PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA are sitting at a linen-covered table set with heavy silverware and a pink rosebud in a crystal jar, sipping coffee and discussing the challenges and benefits of Presidenting. A four-poster bed can be seen slightly behind and to the left of where the Obamas are sitting.

MICHELLE: Well, I think things are going great, Barack. You haven’t had a Cabinet appointment scandal in a couple of days, and everyone seems to be getting used to the whole idea of spending hundreds of billions to fix Bush’s mess. Plus, your speeches are still killing!

OBAMA: Yeah, and I have all this cool stuff that shows I’m the President! Air Force One. A nifty jacket. The White House. Man, this job rules! But there’s one thing that’s getting me down.

MICHELLE: Listen, Barack, if it’s that whole smoking in the house thing again, I TOLD you –

OBAMA: Nah, nah, it’s not about that. This is something even MORE serious. (standing up and pacing) People are accusing me of thinking small on health care just because my entire plan consists of computerizing medical records! I mean, what do they want, single-payer health care or something? I never, EVER said I was going to do anything like that!

MICHELLE (watching him, sighing sympathetically): Yeah, honey, I know. Where do they get these stupid ideas about you?

OBAMA (lying on the bed, hands behind his head): I honestly don’t know. Maybe Axelrod told some of his operatives to spread that nonsense – I just gave up on keeping track of all the things he was promising my fans in the blogosphere. (pats the space next to him on the bed to indicate MICHELLE should come lie down beside him)

MICHELLE (crossing to the bed and lying down): So, is that it? You’re catching flack from a bunch of keyboard commandos over health care? Sounds pretty small-time to me. (suddenly worried) Unless – the health insurance companies aren’t threatening to withhold funding for 2012, are they?

OBAMA (laughing): Of course not! No worries there. They couldn’t be happier that I won. (sobering up) No, the real problem is that I’m being accused of not having a vision for this country. Can you believe that? Don’t they know that this medical records idea is just a small step along the way to a better, brighter, more efficient O-merica? Here, let me show you my vision…

(The stage goes dark. When the lights come up, the scene is the inside of an O-Mart. It’s a vast megastore that dwarfs its luckless progenitor, K-Mart. We see pictures of The One everywhere, of course, and signs are hanging from the ceiling, helpfully pointing the way to: GROCERIES/CLOTHING/RESTAURANTS/CASINO/COMMUNITY COLLEGE/PHARMACY/MEDICAL CLINIC/FUNERAL PARLOR. JOE and JANE O-MERICA enter stage right, gawking at the enormity of the affair.)

JOE: Wow! My cousin Bob told me this place was huge, but I had no idea it would be like this!

JANE: This is incredible! Is – is that a moving sidewalk to get people from one section of the store to the other?

JOE (proudly): Yup! And it’s entirely solar-powered. I hear that it’s already 50% renewable, and in five years, will be totally environmentally sustainable!

JANE: I gotta say, I was kinda skeptical about President Obama, but I have to admit that this is really impressive. What should we do first?

(Slight pause while their choices overwhelm them.)

JOE: Hey – how about a cup of coffee and a brownie?

JANE: Yeah – I could use a little energy. Plus, you should never do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach!

JOE: Let’s use the people mover!

(They step onto the people mover and soon arrive at the coffee shop, where they disembark. It is called – of course – CUP O JOE, with the “O” being the Obama for America logo.)

(A charming young barista steps up to the register. She is wearing red, blue and white with the O logo showing prominently on a baseball cap perched atop her perky ponytail.)

BARISTA (smiling brightly): Hello, and welcome to Cup (pointing to the “O” on her cap) “O” Joe. What can I get you?

JOE: Ummmm….let’s see. (looking at the menu and prices, whispering to JANE) Everything’s kind of expensive, huh?

JANE: Oh my God. $7.50 for a cup of coffee? And what’s with these sizes? “Broke,” “Employed,” “Elite,” or “FOO?”

(The BARISTA rolls her eyes, having heard it before)

BARISTA: Sir, are you going to purchase an item or not? 

JOE: Miss, I’m just curious. What does “FOO” mean?

BARISTA (patronizingly): “FOO” is Friend of Obama. Believe me; if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

JANE: I think we should just go, Joe. I don’t like this one bit.

JOE (stubbornly): No, no, I want a cup of coffee and a brownie! Miss, can you get that for me? Make that two coffees in “Employed” sizes.

BARISTA (smiling charmingly again): Of course, sir!

(She enters the order on her terminal, and it appears on an LCD screen behind her as: COFFEES: 2, BROWNIE: 1.)

Please swipe your card – we do not accept cash, thank you.

(JOE swipes his card. A red light starts blinking above the word “BROWNIE” behind her.)

BARISTA: Oh, I’m sorry, sir, you’ve been “red-lighted.” (looking at her terminal) I see that your family has a history of diabetes and heart disease, so I can’t sell you that brownie. (smiling brightly again) But you can still have the coffees!

JOE (stunned): How – how did you know that about my family?

BARISTA (going into sales pitch): Don’t worry, Mr. O-merica! It’s all part of the President’s plan for affordable health care for all Americans. No one should be a burden on society, and it’s not fair that people who have tendencies towards long, expensive illnesses should be allowed to eat and drink things that will aggravate their condition. Why should someone who is healthy have to pay for your irresponsible behavior? That’s why we computerized everyone’s medical records and put them in a national database – to make it easy for our government to look out for the O-merican People’s best interests!

JANE: Oh. My. God. (grabbing the coffees) Joe, let’s get out of here.

JOE (shaken): Yeah. Let’s.

(They get on the people mover, somewhat dazed.)

JANE (pointing through the fourth wall into the audience): Look – they’re “red-lighting” that woman for trying to buy a refrigerator! What does it say?

JOE (squinting): “Debt-to-income ratio incorrect?” Wow, that’s hard-core! (pointing again) Oh no! That man just keeled over by the frozen peas!

(A voice over the loudspeaker is heard.)

VOICE: Cleanup on Aisle 13!

JANE: CLEANUP?! I’m going to give these people a piece of my mind. How DARE they refer to a human being that way?

JOE: Oh, crap. Here we go.

(They disembark from the people mover. An O-Mart employee enters backwards from stage left, carelessly dragging an unconscious old man on the floor by one arm. He is wearing the same uniform as the barista, and his nametag reads “John.” JANE steps forward to confront him.)

JANE: Excuse me. Just what are you doing with that poor old man? And how dare you people refer to him as “cleanup!”

JOHN (dismissively): Don’t get your panties in a wad, honey. I’ll have you know this guy is a hopeless case – diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s lived a full life and to care for him now would only be taking money out of the taxpayers’ pockets and throwing it away on someone who won’t live to appreciate it. In other words, he’s dead meat. (looking around) Where’s that damn cart? I can’t drag this fucking guy all the way to the funeral parlor!

(An OMart cart appears, driven by another employee wearing the typical OMart uniform.)

JOHN: Finally! Jesus Christ, Frank. The customers are getting edgy here! Let’s load him up.

(FRANK and JOHN pop the opaque glass top on the cart, which opens to reveal a stack of bodies. All are older men and women. Some are stirring and moaning.)

WOMAN (feebly): I’m not dead yet!

FRANK: You will be, meat, so shut yer trap. You’re lucky we let you drain our wallets for as long as we did!

(FRANK and JOHN unceremoniously dump the old man on top of the pile, then close the top and drive off.)

JOE (with shocked realization): What the hell have we done?

(Both O-MERICAS pause and consider their options.)

JANE (making a decision): Come on, honey. I’ve got a friend in Canada. It’s time to, how shall I put it? “Stop burdening the state with our very existence.”

(JOE and JANE run desperately out of the store the way they came. The stage goes dark, and we are back in the hotel room with the OBAMAs, who are now cuddled together, MICHELLE’s head on BARACK’s chest.)

MICHELLE (wiping tears from her eyes): That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I – I’m in awe. I especially loved how the people who wouldn’t get with the program were kicked out of the country. Good riddance to those lazy assholes! Ohhhh, everything was so efficient and streamlined – and environmentally sound, too. Barack, you are just brilliant!

BARACK (basking): I know, baby, I know. I can’t wait till it all comes true. The American people will love me so much, I’ll be President for life! (turning towards MICHELLE, putting his arms around her) And speaking of brilliant ideas…

(As they go to kiss each other: LIGHTS OUT.)

Cross-posted at The Confluence and Partizane

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One response to “President Re-Election Does the Vision Thing: A Play in One Utopian Act.

  1. Your drama has an element of fantasy that I find very admirable. In the manner of Kafka in The Trial, or Ayn Rand in Anthem, you have a way of bringing the allegorical into the here and now. I find relief and amusement as I mull over my own list of disappointments in Obama. I am still formulating my own opinion. I do absolutely adore the repugnance and villainization I see on the right. He must be something very wonderful to inspire their intense hatred. Or is it just racism. None of us will ever know. I love my left of progressive friends so closely watching the DOJ and Afghanistan. To think that Obama can single-handedly lead a movement that will redefine healthcare, rout out every criminal in the military intelligence community, and end two wars in the first 30 days is really expecting too much.