"Hey, John, come on in, have a seat."

"Thank you, Mister President, but that looks a bit too soft for me. Don't you have something a little harder? A stool, perhaps?"

"Uh, no, mmm, I can see if I can get something sent up."

"Never mind. I'll just stand. I don't do soft."

"Okay, then. So. Are you ready for a fight?"

"Yes sir, Mister President. Put 'em up."

"No, John, settle down big guy. Not me. I'm talking about the Senate. A lot of those guys are pretty quarrelsome. They might just try to hold up your nomination as UN ambassador because, well, they're of the opinion that you don't care much for the United Nations, and that my putting you in there might send a negative signal to our allies."

"Allies? Huh. I'm sure you can ram me through. You are the president, aren't you? Not just some poseur. Because I'll tell you straight out, I don't deal with poseurs, and if you don't think you have the balls to..."

"Wait a minute, John, don't get all excited, you know good and well that I can pretty much get whatever I want."

"Oh, yeah? Doesn't look like you're doing too good of a job with that Social Security initiative of yours, does it? Maybe we should just forget about this whole deal if you're going to squirm like a spineless little jellyfish."

"I'm not squirming. I'm not. We're going to get you in. You know, Cheney really likes you a lot."

"No, he doesn't like me, he respects me. He's tough, like I am. When I told him that I wouldn't care if the UN building lost ten stories, he one upped me. Twenty stories, that's what he wouldn't care about. That's a lot of not caring, and I respect a man who exercises his ability to not care. Just how much do you not care, Mister President?"

"Uh, well, I don't care about a lot of things. I don't care about fifty percent of the folks in this country to start with. I really don't care about the French, and I don't give a good goddamn about the Germans, and closer over to our own border, I don't think that I could care less about the Canadians."

"Huh. Pretty low-grade not caring, if you want my opinion. Me and Dick, we don't care about a single goddamn one of those jibber-jabbering countries except for a couple of the ones that speak a little English, like the British and the Australians. And of course, we like Togo."

"Wow. You really are a professional! And I like what you were saying about the old guy a minute ago. We sure as hell don't need the world to like us, but respect, that's imperative. Looks like we're going to need a nickname for you, John."

"How about Mister Gruff?"

"How bout The Gruffster?"

"You ever call me a cutesy name like that and I guarantee that I will kick your ass, I don't care who else is in the room. Now I'll ask you just one more time - how about Mister Gruff?"

"Hmm, I like that. It's got a certain, you know, a certain kind of, uh..."

"Je ne sais quoi?"

"What you said. Say, is that French?"

"Know your enemy, Mister President. Know your enemy."


2005, Mark Hoback