The Wasatch Behind: Cabinet secretary Spud
"Did you hear the news?" Uncle Spud shouted into the telephone. "Fox News just said the Irish guy won the election."
"Are you talking about Obama?" I asked, struggling to wake up. It was 11 o'clock and I had been asleep for an hour.
"Yes," he declared. "The Irish guy, O'Bama. This is unprecedented. It's the first time we've elected a black Irishman to be our president."
"He's not Irish," I growled. "He's Afro-Kansas American. He was born and raised in Hawaii and grew up in Chicago. I don't think he's ever been to Ireland."
"Well, maybe he wasn't born in Ireland," Spud said. "But neither was JFK. And Jack Kennedy always called himself an Irishman."
"Good grief," I groaned. "What does it matter?"
"O'Bama and Kennedy have a lot in common," Spud insisted. "Both were in their mid-40's when elected. Both were United States senators. Both were handsome, charismatic and skinny as pencils. Both were captivating speakers who inspired a whole generation of young people. They each had two kids when entering the White House and their wives were fashion trendsetters. But then, you should have seen the dress Michelle was wearing at the victory party. It was all black with a red belly; made her look like a spider. Morbid bad taste if you ask me. Makes you wonder who's designing her clothes."
"It doesn't matter to me what the first lady wears or whether Obama is Irish or not," I insisted. "He's soon to be our president and I'll support him all I can."
"I feel the same way," Spud said with a big smile. "In fact, the president elect is putting together his new cabinet and I've applied for a job. I wrote him a nice letter and volunteered to be his secretary of education."
"How could you be secretary of education? You didn't finish third grade," I said.
"The secretary of education is the guy who educates the president," Spud said smugly. "I think I could teach him some things."
"Like how to solve our most pressing problems. For instance, I've figured out a way to bail out the auto industry without giving Detroit any free money."
"Do tell," I said eagerly.
"Instead of giving GM and Ford $25 billion, let's give every household in American a new car," he said. "It would help the industry, cost about the same, and it would sure make a lot more people happy."
"Brilliant," I agreed. "What else do you suggest we do?"
"We could honorably withdraw from both foreign wars by combining Iraq and Afghanistan into one country called Iraqistan. That should start a civil war between the Taliban and Al Qaida and we could sneak out while they are busy fighting each other. We could get Osama Bin Laden by marking 'return to sender' on his next smart-mouthed videotape and then send Marines to follow the postman back to his mailbox.
"We could solve the illegal immigration problem overnight by annexing Mexico. We could strengthen the dollar and help American agriculture at the same time by putting our currency on a potato standard. China has all of our gold and silver, so potatoes are about all we have left. Don't laugh. It would be a good move. Potatoes backing our money would be better than nothing.
"We could solve global warming and the energy crisis at the same time by covering wilderness areas with thousands of square miles of solar panels that would generate electricity while at the same time reflecting harmful sunlight back into outer space. As an emergency stopgap measure we could issue life rafts to polar bears until the arctic and hell freeze over again."
"Sounds like you've got it covered," I had to admit. "But are you sure the secretary of education is the guy who educates the president?"
"Sure I'm sure," he smiled. "I know what all of the cabinet secretaries do. The secretary of state makes official statements. Secretary of interior is over drapes, furniture and floor coverings at the White House. Secretary of the treasury keeps the books and buys everyone lunch. Secretary of labor bosses the cooks, mechanics and maintenance staff. The homeland security secretary locks the doors and pulls down the shades at night. The attorney general outranks the attorney corporal. And the secretary of defense takes all of the hard questions at news conferences."
"As secretary of education, you'll fit right in," I assured him.