|Image by Beedlejuce at DeviantArt.|
"Give me something!" he said, with a threatening gesture. "I'm the fucking king!"
But the old lady was actually a good fairy, name of David F. Brooks ("A Gift for Donald Trump"), and she said, "All right, I shall give you the gift of prudence. Now, when somebody tells you you can get another marshmallow if you wait 15 minutes to eat the first one, you will be able to do it and and end up with two marshmallows. Now instead of just doing the first thing that comes into your head you will be more goal-oriented, and take things a step at a time, and you'll be able to attain your heart's desire!"
"Fantastic!" said the emperor. "I want every last fucking marshmallow! Nobody gets another marshmallow but me, ever!"
"Actually," replied the fairy, "maybe I shouldn't be helping you attain your heart's desire. Maybe we should focus on goal substitution instead. How about if you had some friends? Wouldn't you rather have some friends than some marshmallows? I shall give you the gift of fraternity! I shall give you a grave crisis that you absolutely cannot handle on your own. The only way to survive will be to fall back entirely on others, and then to experience what it feels like to have them hold you up."
"You have to be kidding!" said the emperor. "I've been in a crisis like that for my entire adult life, and it's gotten ten times worse since I became emperor. I'm dependent on other people for everything! I can't even send a tweet without help—"
"Funny, I have trouble with that stuff too," remarked the fairy.
"—And I'm surrounded by an entourage that sees to all of it. All I have to do is tell them what I don't like. 'Bad! Sad! Disgraceful!' They jump on it before I'm even finished saying it. They fight with each other for the privilege of satisfying my smallest demands. I have so many friends holding me up I hardly have anything to do. I just watch TV and play a little golf and go on camera once in a while. Takes less of my time than Celebrity Apprentice did."
But the good fairy was gone. She wasn't very good at conferring magical gifts, as a matter of fact, but she was terrific at disappearing whenever the argument got a little gnarly.
But there was another good fairy in the forest, known as Ross Douthat ("Can This Presidency Be Saved?"), and she was ready to take up the issue. "Your problem is you're trying to do too much complicated stuff!" she said. "I give you the gift that when you wake up tomorrow you will decide to show a broad deference to Rex Tillerson and James Mattis on foreign policy, while letting Jeff Sessions and James Kelly between them hash out an immigration enforcement agenda."
"His name is John Kelly," noted the emperor.
"Whatever," said the fairy. "Anyway then you'll be able to focus on the simple stuff you promised the people you'd do, like cutting taxes on the middle class and corporations and building huge amounts of infrastructure."
"Well, that's what I told Ryan," said the emperor, "and he said the math doesn't work. The only way I could manage that is by magic."
"And how is that my problem?" screamed the fairy, and she too vanished.
And so the emperor decided to go on keeping campaign promises by issuing edicts that claimed, on slender evidence, that his campaign promises had been kept, each one getting people so riled up that they forgot the previous one, every couple of days. It was actually a lot simpler than Douthat's idea.
|Looks like Douthat and Brooks are sharing an editor.|