This just in from the White House: Barack Obama -- the beneficent, the merciful -- has repealed the law of gravity, calling it "old science" and saying in his weekly radio address that it was "time to move on and put this slavish devotion to 17th century dogma behind us."
The president drew a careful comparison between his brainstorm in repealing the law of gravity and Isaac Newton's in inventing it. Under this comparison, Newton came out rather badly. In a conversation with Rahm Emanuel prior to going public with this announcement, the president explained his thinking:
"Newton was hit on the head by an apple. He awoke and asked, why? I too was inspired in my sleep. When I awoke, I asked, why not? I thought: Why not cut straight to the chase and forget all about costs. That was my insight and I came up with it entirely on my own, without the help of any props. That shows you why I'm president and Newton's just another forgotten geek on a pedestal."
The president paused, giving Emanuel a moment to catch up with the enormity of this thought, and plunged ahead with his customary confidence and certitude.
"Tell me, Rahm, how many times have you heard me talk about how we must learn to live within our means?"
"Almost never, Mr. President. At least not until recently. But you have started to talk about it, that's for sure."
"And surely you have noticed that I have been talking about some other things that are just a little bit out of the ordinary for me."
"Yes, indeed. At the summit at Blair House you talked about the need for injecting 'choice and competition' into healthcare decision-making. That was a first. And then in your state-of-the-union address last month you talked about your devotion to small business and how small business is the real engine of growth and job creation in this country."
"I did, indeed. And I went on to say that as long as I'm president of the United States, I won't allow our economy to come out second best to the Indians, the Chinese or anyone else. I set a goal of doubling our nation's exports in five years. What other president has done that?"
"I love where you're going with this, Mr. President. 'Confusion to the enemy,' I always say. Nobody will think you're a socialist if you can sing one or two bars out of the free-market songbook. We did that back in Clinton White House. We called it 'triangulation.'"
"So here's the deal, Rahm. First of all, we want the American people to know that when we say we want to balance the budget, lower the deficit, re-energize the economy and improve our long-term competitiveness, we are serious about it. Are you with me so far?"
"At the same time, we are just as serious, and in fact 100 times more serious, about all kinds of other things -- such as spending massive amounts of money on green jobs and green energy… supporting our union brethren in high-paying jobs in Detroit… and inventing a whole new system of taxes, hand outs and entitlements that will take money out of the hands of the most active, talented and hard-working people in the top quintile and put it into the pockets of other people in the bottom four quintiles."
"True enough, Mr. President. Those are a few of our objectives, and you could add that we are also supporting the wages of others of our union brethren who have been bleeding cities, states and local communities dry in public sector employment. But without wanting to sound disrespectful, what are you getting at here? I mean, what's the point?"
"The point is: To do all those things -- and keep from doing the most spectacular swan dive into national bankruptcy that the world has ever seen -- we have to repeal the law of gravity. Really, it's the only way to get a handle on costs. Without gravity, we won't be weighed down by costs -- or anything else. We need to get rid of gravity!"
"Gee, I dunno, Mr. President. How do you repeal a law of science? You know my brother's the scientist in my family but even speaking as someone who majored in dance, I know that the law of gravity seems pretty, well, inescapable."
"Maybe you spent too much time with the Clintons, Rahm. That's the old way of thinking. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times: We live in an age of accelerating change and innovation -- where old ways of thinking and doing things no longer matter. Something that's as old as the law of gravity isn't science, it's history, and we can't allow it to be any sort of constraint upon our behavior going forward."
"Should I draw up a press release?"
"Certainly not! Anything this important calls for a speech. Here's what you do. We'll do it same way we did with the doctors a few month ago. Let's invite two or three hundred of the nation's top physicists to the White House, get them dressed in white lab coats, remind them of the billions of dollars of stimulus money going into higher education, and then I'll come out and talk to them about the new physics."
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