Barack was tired. Year seven of his presidency was coming to a close. The world and the nation was in such turmoil no matter where he turned, and then he had to deal with Donald Trump’s craziness. Yet, politics is what it is: A never ending series of compromise and accommodation. Clinton (Bill that is . . . well Hillary too for that matter) had taught him that this was the way it is and that was that, so why bother? It was late and he was really tired. He needed to finish drinking his nightcap and go to sleep. After he rang for the White House butler, he gathered up some notes for an upcoming speech and . . .
The glow coming from near the fireplace startled him! A tremendous light surrounded what seemed to resemble a figure of a man. Wait! This could not be happening! This must be some sort of drowsy person’s hallucination! What in the hell was going on? The figure would not just disappear from a series of quick blinks from Barack’s sleepy eyes. On the contrary, the figure was becoming more distinguishable as it approached him. For God sakes, it looked like Ronald Reagan! When the figure or man or whatever this apparition was began to speak, the voice was definitely Reagan’s. Barack had difficulty tuning into the voice because of all the loud noise coming from what looked like . . . chains around its waist. Chains? What in the hell was going on here!?
“Barack Hussein Obama,” the voice seemed to shrill his way, “do you know who I am, and why I am here? Agh!! Agh!!”
Barack almost had a stroke, he was so discombobulated. “What do you want from me? Who are you?”
“I was your former president in life. Now I am cursed to walk the universe in these chains. Agh! Agh!”
Barack just shook his head with his mouth wide open. “But why spirit? Why must you do this? You were not such a bad president. Maybe not my choice, but didn’t you do so many good things to get our country back on its feet? Didn’t you?”
The apparition or ghost, or whatever this was, just stood there shaking its head in the negative. “No, I did so many terrible things. I allowed so many terrible things, and I wear these chains, one for each thing I allowed or ordered, for each nation in which I destroyed true freedom and democracy. Granada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Lebanon . . . Agh! Agh!”
Barack just stared at this ghost or whatever was happening to him.
“Do you understand me Barack Hussein Obama? It is too late for my soul to find redemption. It is not too late for yours!”
Barack was really taken aback by those words. “Why should I seek or need redemption? What have I done that warrants that?”
“Agh! Agh! Don’t you realize that I allowed the big banks and Wall Street predators to control things for the eight years I was in office? You have done the same, son. You have allowed the Military War Industrial Complex to run roughshod over the world, just as I did. There would not be any such thing as ISIL if I and my successors did not put our jackboots into all those Middle Eastern countries. All those poor souls that rely on you for leadership are sinking under the weight of more than half of our revenues going to unnecessary military means. I visited your predecessor and he denied my warnings. Will you Barack Hussein Obama? Will you, too be carrying these same chains after you pass this veil of dreams? “
Barack watched as the ghostlike figure disolved away. He sank back into his cushy armchair in an uneasy silence. He could not now go to sleep, or had he already been asleep and this was all part of a terrible nightmare? Was it the spicy dinner he had earlier, mixed with the alcohol from the few drinks he had? Yes, that was what this was, a bout of indigestion, nothing more. Yes, that was it. Besides, he was the president of the United States of America, the most powerful man in the entire world. He could not dare to believe such a thing as the existence of ghosts or apparitions or whatever. Okay, he thought to himself, or rather debated with himself, okaym the hallucination did make some sense after all. He never really did feel comfortable with compromising so quickly on the Affordable Health Care Act. He did want to have Medicare for All for those who wished to buy in. Barack knew he had even betrayed those in his own party who demanded he stand firm. He also knew that he could have taken a tougher stand with the Wall Street bandits. He could have insisted on a course of government receivership of those failed firms and their toxic assets, instead of continuing that bailout.
He also understood what that so-called ghost or hallucination had meant by the obscene military spending. He knew that under his tutelage, the spending broke even the excessive records set by the Bush administration. The same was true with the use of those drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Yemen and who knows where else . . . ten times more than under Bush Junior. The bombing and regime change in Libya, all under his watch, and his turning a ‘ blind eye’ to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians . . . the continued use of extraordinary rendition really never felt so good to him either . . . yet he signed off on it. All these actions allowed those religious fanatics in that region to have the most successful recruiting campaign to form ISIL. No matter where he reviewed his policies, Barack could see how he was just the same as the presidents preceding him. They all were servants to what Nixon himself referred to as The Beast.
The clock in the drawing room where he sat was chiming 3 AM. Barack yawned and stood up with his nightcap in hand. One more sip and off to bed. Things were more complicated when one becomes a president. The important thing is to keep the nation moving forward, and, sadly, be able to accept that ‘the chips fall where they may.’ Reagan was a master at this . . . and so was he.
Philip A Farruggio is a semi-retired baby boomer born and bred in blue collar Brooklyn, NY. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen, and educated at ‘ free tuition ‘ Brooklyn College, class of ‘ 74. Philip has written over 300 columns since 2001 and his work is found on many fine progressive sites like World News Trust, Nation of Change, Information Clearinghouse, Intrepid Report, Sleuth Journal, Dandelion Salad, Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.