Fiction: A Few Words From Leonard Ramirez, First Co-President of the United States

The latest from my ongoing interminable series “Rejected by McSweeney’s.”

Good afternoon, Mr. President; Madam Secretary; members of the press corps; ladies and gentlemen.

When I first received a call from the election commission informing me that, due to an obscure and little-understood bylaw in our nation’s founding documents, the Supreme Court was, for the first time ever, Constitutionally obligated to name a Co-President of the United States, I was, to say the least, surprised.

When the gentleman on the phone went on to say that, due to the ratio between the popular vote total in the Northern states and the balance of party power in the Senate, divided by the number of property owners in the state of Virginia, this rare and never-before-executed provision had mathematically selected me, Leonard Ramirez, assistant general manager of Penn Hills Radio Shack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to serve as co-president alongside Barack Obama, I was extremely surprised.

We need not review the curious and protracted process by which I came to actually assume this office. I urge us to put the partisan rancor of the last several months behind us. The many slanderous statements and incredulous, stammering protests uttered in the Supreme Court challenge that I survived will forever remain a part of that Court’s permanent record; let us keep our high spirits by not repeating them here.

I did not ask for this unprecedented position; I did not expect it; but I see no option but to rise to it. And so, as co-president, I would like to offer my assistance to President Obama in any way that I can.

Mr. President, please let me know if there’s anything I can do. My desk, just on the other side of the hastily-erected cubicle wall in the Oval Office that you have no doubt noticed, is very close to yours, so you should be able to just speak loudly, or come over and ask whatever you like. If you’re out of the office, or on Air Force One or in another country, I’m told that you have been given a special walkie-talkie that can connect you to me at any time. It looks like this one. Do you have it? Okay. It’s okay if you don’t have it with you. I’ve got mine, so, whenever you need, just hit the Talk button. Mine’s set on Channel Two, but if you prefer a different channel, just let me know. I’m happy to accommodate.

I’ve been asked if I plan to sit in on Cabinet meetings, or visit foreign dignitaries, or address Congress. My answer to these, and every similar query, is the same: if I can be of help, then I am happy to. Mr. President, if you are busy with your family, and you’d prefer me to go visit troops in Afghanistan or have a meeting with Hugo Chavez, all you have to do is ask. I am no longer married, and I only have my daughter on alternate weekends, so I have a lot of free time. I’ve also been in touch with my general manager over at Penn Hills Radio Shack, Nancy Ranmuller. She has agreed to allow me as much time off as I need. So, again, I am at your disposal for that.

I do speak a little bit of Spanish, but not very much. Mainly just greetings, curse words, and the names of foods. If Hugo Chavez wants to talk to me about brunch, I won’t even need an interpreter! Just a little joke. I would in actuality be happy to avail myself of the services of an official White House interpreter. It would probably be for the best. I should also say that I am fair to decent at taking notes. I could meet with you after the meeting and we could go over what was said, sort of talk it out and make sure we’re both on the same page. I will try my best to keep any random doodles “president-friendly.”

Mr. President, I also know that it must be very difficult for you to split your attention among the many pressing issues facing this nation, including the economy, concerns about jobs and unemployment, health care reform, and rising tensions overseas. Again, I want to put myself at your disposal. If you want to think just about unemployment for a while, I’m here to run interference for you. I can hold a press conference, or conduct an interview with 60 Minutes. Or, I can discuss one issue with the Cabinet, while you meet with leaders in Congress about something else. Later, we can compare notes, and that way in case the other person has to go to the other meeting the next day, we’re both up to speed on everything that’s been discussed.

The last election was among the most divisive in our nation’s history. Mr. President, I feel I should come clean and admit that did I not vote for you. I did not vote for anyone, because I forgot what time the polls closed, and also I did not have a ride. Nancy Ranmuller was supposed to take me after work, but she had to go pick up her kids, because of some mix-up with her husband that I do not know the details of. As co-president I am willing to be flexible about things like that, because I do not have a family of my own, except for alternate weekends when my daughter and I read books in silence. I almost got remarried once, but it did not work out for reasons too complicated to explain. I do get Secret Service protection, though, right? In case she shows up at the White House?

Just another little joke. I think she is unlikely to show up at the White House. Even I had to take a cab because I could not find it at first. Anyway, because of my family situation I can always stay late at the office, or run to pick something up if you and Michelle are busy or need an extra hand. I am not much of a cook but I can do simple things like rice and eggs pretty well. I also don’t snore and usually have clean towels on hand in case you need to crash at my place for any reason, or if I have to stay overnight at the White House I’ll try not to be a bother. I do sometimes like to watch television in the evenings, but if you would rather go to bed early, it’s okay if I miss an episode of something. It’s really not a big deal; I can always read a recap the next day. Although I think you would agree that it’s not the same.

I would just like to conclude by saying that I am really very excited for this opportunity. There has never been a co-president in our nation’s history. But our Founders must have written it into the Constitution for a reason.

Mr. President, I know this is an awkward situation for the both of us. Believe me, I’m as nervous as you are. And since we have to work together, I hope we can make the best of it. I’ll try to remember to bring headphones to the Oval Office and if my music is ever too loud, please just let me know. I’ve already labeled all my food in the fridge so there should be no confusion. I will now take questions.

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