The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Henry's Interview Corner


A Beagle Dreams of Finally Getting Some Answers

President Barack Obama

(Interviewed February 21, 2013)

H:   Uh… President Obama…wel…welcome to Henry’s Interview Corner. Con…congratulations on your reelection and a good State of the Union address.

POTUS:   Thanks very much, Henry. Pleasure to be here. You seem… you seem a little nervous.

H:   Well…

POTUS:   Was it the Secret Service?

H:   Well…

POTUS:   I thought so. Look, don’t let these guys unnerve you. They’re just doing their job. That was a standard pat-down.

H:   A standard pat-down.

POTUS:   That’s right.

H:   Well, then the standard pat-down is extraordinarily …uh…thorough.

POTUS:   We don’t want to take any chances.

H:   I’m a thirty-five pound beagle.

POTUS:   Still. So, you want to know about the economy.

H:   I do?

POTUS:   The top-down, supply-side, trickle down, Paul Ryan, Ayn Randian,  voodoo economics doesn’t work, Henry. We’ve tried that. We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past. We need middle-out, bottom-up, Keynesian, demand-side approaches that will economically empower the middle class and harness that spending engine to grow the economy.  That means jobs. Lots of jobs. That means investing in infrastructure. We need to put people to work building schools and bridges and mass-transit systems. We need to increase the minimum wage. We need to invest in clean energy initiatives. The last thing we need is a sequester that… that…what are you doing?

H:   What? 

POTUS:   Isn’t that… my glass? It… it has my name on it. See? Right there.

H:   Sorry. I’m parched. I didn’t think you’d mind.

POTUS:   It’s yours now.

H:   What?

POTUS:   Your tongue’s been in there.

H:   I’m so embarrassed. Interviewing the President and I pull a Rubio.

POTUS:   I don’t think you can call it a Rubio if it’s someone else’s water.

H:   Well, I disagree. I think a Rubio is anytime you…

POTUS:   You know, I have a lot of other things I could be doing.

H:   Can I sit in your lap?

POTUS:   No.

H:   Oprah let me sit in her lap.

POTUS:   I’m not Oprah.

H:   You sound disappointed.

POTUS:   Who doesn’t want to be Oprah?

H:   Point taken.

POTUS:   Are we going to talk about the economy or not?

H:   Not.

POTUS:   How about sequestration?

H:   I can’t talk about sequestration. It’s still too painful to talk about. My vet is a sadist.

POTUS:   I think you have the wrong idea. See, the sequester was supposed to be a way to put pressure on Congress to fix the federal deficit.

H:   Well it sure fixed me. The federal deficit can just forget about breeding any puppies. And the pain is not going away for a couple of days. A bag of frozen peas will help. But, please, let’s not dwell on this unpleasantness.

POTUS:   Okay.  Why am I here?

H:   That photo.

POTUS:   What photo? Oh, you mean the gun?

H:   The gun.

POTUS:   So?

H:   If you’re pretending to be a hunter just to get an attaboy from the NRA, no one’s buying that.

POTUS:   I wasn’t pretending to be a hunter.

H:   Oh? Then what were you shooting at?

POTUS:   Skeet. It’s a skeet rifle, Henry.

H:   Mmm hmm. Lots of dangerous skeet running around Camp David is there? That could be a national security thing. Have you thought about developing a fleet of skeet drones?

POTUS:   Skeet don’t run around. They aren’t alive…

H:   Well no. Not any more. Probably facing extinction at this point. Do you at least eat what you kill, Mr. President?

POTUS:   Henry…

H:   What do skeet taste like? And if you say chicken, this interview is over. Because the only thing that tastes like chicken is chicken.

POTUS:   I don’t know what they taste like. Clay I suppose. Look, you have the wrong idea about skeet. You seem to have a lot of wrong ideas about a lot of things.

H:   Maybe. Maybe not. I’m just saying that I have eaten frog and it tastes nothing like chicken.  This is America. We should celebrate a diversity of taste in this country. Just because you happen like chicken, don’t take it out on the poor skeet. The government should not be in the business of telling us what things taste like. Leave that to the invisible paw of marketplace.

POTUS:   I’m sure you want to talk about something other than the taste of skeet.

H:    Yes. 

POTUS:   Out with it.

H:   Two words: Portuguese Water Dog.

POTUS:   First, that’s three words. Second, you booked me, the President of the United States, Leader of the Free World, to talk about my dog?

H:   His name is Bo, yes?

POTUS:   Yes.

H:   B…O. B for Barak. O for Obama.

POTUS:   What’s your point?

H:   Why be so cute about it? Why not just name him Barak Obama?

POTUS:   To avoid confusion. Can you imagine the headlines: Michelle Throws Stick for Barak on White House Lawn. Or: After Bath, Barak Obama Chews on Boehner Over Sequestration.

H:   There’s that word again.

POTUS:   Sorry. I’m just saying that shortening the name to Bo solved a lot of those problems.

H:   Hmmm. I guess I can see your point. Why do you hate Beagles?

POTUS:   What? I don’t hate Beagles. It’s a fine breed. Who told you that?

H:   Sean Hannity.  Beagles and Freedom he said.

POTUS:   Consider the source, Henry. It’s not true.

H:   You sure didn’t pick a Beagle as First Dog though, did you?

POTUS:   Beagles aren’t hypoallergenic.

H:   Yeah, I don’t know what that means.

POTUS:   It means Malia has allergies.

H:   She’s allergic to Beagles?

POTUS:   How about we talk about some of the successes of my first term? Saved the auto industry. Pushed through the Lilly Ledbetter Act. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Affordable Care Act. Averted complete financial ruin. Repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Repaired US standing around the world. Got us out of Iraq. Pulling out of Afghanistan. Took out Osama Bin Laden. We…

H:   Did Beagles even make the short list?

POTUS:   What? No.

H:   Is there like … an Assistant First Dog position available?

POTUS:   No. And even if there was, you wouldn’t be qualified.

H:   I’m a very good guard dog.

POTUS:   I’m sure you are.

H:   I could take down Barney Bush in a fight. Could Bo do that?

POTUS:   Henry.

H:   Yes, Mr. President?

POTUS:   Take a breath. I am not going to sanction even a theoretical competition between you and Bo over who can take down Barney Bush. Barney was a perfectly nice First Dog.

H:   He was a Scottie. I’m still humiliated.

POTUS:   He was a perfectly nice First Dog. Now, you can either ask me a substantive question about national policy or about my administration in its second term, or I’m going to go shoot some hoops with Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

H:   Fine. Let’s talk about the Department of Homeland Security No Fly List.

POTUS:   Okay.

H:   Why do you hate flies? Do you realize the critical role that flies have in helping to locate poop from a distance?

POTUS:   That’s…Henry.

H:   Yes, Mr. President?

POTUS:   That’s not what the No Fly List is.

H:   Have you forgotten that the entire nation watched as you took out that fly in a 2009 interview with CNBC? That was an unprovoked…

POTUS:   I’m sorry, no, no; that was very provoked.

H:   PETA was upset.

POTUS:   Yes. PETA was upset.

H:   You should have brushed, not Ninja-swatted. Tiny little defenseless fly. Boy, flies and skeet.

POTUS:   I… That does not have a thing to do with the No Fly List, which is not for flies at all but for anybody that poses a threat to the security of the United States.

H:   Oh. Really?

POTUS:   Yes.

H:   In that case, I’d like to nominate someone for the No Fly List.

POTUS:   That’s not something you can do. It doesn’t work on public nominations.

H:    Even if it involves a grave threat?

POTUS:   …

H:   Mr. President?

POTUS:   Fine. Who are you nominating for the No Fly List?

H:    Twitter.

POTUS:   Twitter?

H:   I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago. He’s very upset. He took exception to being called an Angry Bird.

POTUS:   And being called an Angry Bird made him…angry?

H:   He wants to bust a blue feather in my Beagle ass were his exact words. He should lose his flying privileges.

POTUS:   Okay. I think we’re about done here.

H:   Wait. Wait. Sir. Please. Are you at all concerned about your standing among the canine demographic?

POTUS:   No.

H:   Why not?

POTUS:   One, dogs love me and, two, dogs don’t vote, and, three, I’m in my second term. I’m done running for office.

H:   Ah, yes, but dogs have owners and owners do vote and you said you are the president for all of America, not just the humans who voted for you.

POTUS:   …Okay. And why do you think I should be concerned about the canine demographic?

H:   Because your administration completely ignored canine health problems in the Affordable Care Act. Not a single provision. I know this because I have read and/or eaten most of its 1,990 pages.

POTUS:   What canine health problems?

H:   Worms. And mange.

POTUS:   Mange?

H:   It’s a big problem.

POTUS:   And what, exactly, do you think the Affordable Care Act should have done to address the problem of …mange?

H:   Oh, sure. I’ll bet First Dog Bo has got full coverage for mange six ways from Sunday. But if you’re just a middle class dog who can’t afford the premium presidential plan, just try to get coverage if you develop mange. Try it. I dare you. The insurance lobby has seen to that. Or just try to get a decent medicated shampoo that does not cost a thousand dollars.

POTUS:   You actually think that, with the 112th Congress all over me like a cheap suit, I should have risked another filibuster over medicated dog soap?

H:   Mr. President, with all due respect, either your presidency is based on a policy of Soap and Mange…or it isn’t.

POTUS:   …

H:   Mr. President? Hey…wait, where are you going? Don’t go away mad. Can I be in the press corps? Can I go to school with Malia? Will you sing Let’s Stay Together?


Next Guest: Siri


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