President Obama sent us an email on Monday saying that he wants to keep his job and his house, which is a natural feeling, even if his opponents are threatening to shut down the whole operation. In an era when unemployment checks come by direct deposit, being jobless has never been easier, plus there’s the abundant free time–always a good thing if there’s a new David Foster Wallace book out. And that may be the silver lining of G.O.P. Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, whose steep cuts will surely lose the nation a few jobs. Mr. Ryan, David Brooks assured us, “has grasped reality with both hands.” Mr. Obama has always given the impression of palming reality in one hand or possibly dribbling it.
Except when the reality ball gets away from him, as with that pesky mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who showed up on the front page of The New York Times yesterday with that luxurious beard of his, photographed probably at his home away from cave in sunny Guantánamo Bay, an outpost the president promised to close but a line item likely untouched in Mr. Ryan’s budget. KSM, who prefers not to grip or dribble reality when he can fly planes into it, will face a military tribunal after all, not the downtown legal extravaganza we all were waiting for.
It was an unrealistic expectation, like the appeal lost Friday by former police commissioner Bernie Kerik, for whom reality at its best was a hotel room shared with a leggy big-shot editor. In prison, he must miss his old job as a C.O., especially with so many people doing it around him.
Katie Couric is leaving her job, probably because it involves too much reality. She won’t be around to “plan coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” as one press release we received this week put it. Surely Ms. Couric would have an eye for the “most inspirational stories to emerge from the devastation.” Her replacement, Scott Pelley, got his start at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. They really know how to name their newspapers down there, and, indeed, we’ve always thought the best CBS anchors were from Texas. We can’t wait to hear what he comes up with as Mr. Obama tries to keep his job. One’s reminded of that old saying, “Don’t taunt the alligator until after you’ve crossed the creek.”
The reality in Yemen would give aspirin a headache; it’s playing on a Web cast every time we buy cigarettes at the 44th Street Candy Store. That is, if we’re not buying loosies on the street on one of those days when the whole reality of the city seems like the reality of a bodega: Everything’s for sale and costs just a little more than it should, the ventilation is faulty and relations among everybody inside are very friendly, except when they’re completely hostile. At least it’s a reality that’s always open late.