Still, the president is likely to prefer Politico’s take to what’s being offered at the Daily Beast. There, in what is surely the year’s most mirthless slice of attempted comedy—Adam Sandler flick Grown Ups included—“White House survivor” Matt Latimer plays the Ghost of Christmas Sideways with a satirical look at where we’d be in late 2010 had John McCain and Sarah Palin pulled off a surprise win in 2008. The gist is that Obama, leaning over the Truman balcony, is visited by a guardian angel—“call it Obama’s Wonderful Life” Latimer suggests (to the sound of crickets)—who shows him, through a Keith Olbermann broadcast on number one cable news channel MSNBC (tumbleweed), what life would be like without him. Sarah Palin has just quit before serving out her term, to be replaced by the Governor of Guam (guffaw), and McCain has just flip-flopped on tax cuts.

The point seems twofold. First, to be a kind of rib-tickling satire for the Beltway set. To that end, you will enjoy it if you enjoy this excerpt:

”More WikiLeaks controversy today after top-secret documents revealed that U.S. Secretary of State Joe the Plumber once stunned Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar by telling him during a meeting that quote, ‘I learned so much about your country from watching ‘M*A*S*H.’ Secretary Plumber responded to the story by saying he misspoke. He actually had been thinking of ‘Hogan’s Heroes.’


Second, that the president is solely responsible for whatever success the GOP is enjoying in the real universe, because, in the parallel one, they’re running some kind of bizarre (and hilarious!) kamikaze administration without his help.

You aren’t looking at the big picture,” the angel replies. “Think of all the dreams you have realized for those unfortunate Republicans. All the chances you’ve given them that they never would have had on their own. Why, without you, John Boehner would be a contestant on the Celebrity Apprentice by now.”

“You’re right,” a smiling Obama replies. “My presidency is helping some people.”

“Yes, it is. Because of you, every time a bell rings another Republican is effortlessly winning political office, whether he deserves it or not.”

Imagine: an alternative universe in which this piece was never written.

We will be watching this space as more report cards are handed in.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.