Calling Doctor Rock

As President Bush was speaking to a crowd yesterday from a stage at Kansas State University, Doctor Benjamin Rock (the presiding physician for all presidential travel) developed an uneasy feeling that something was amiss.

"That's not a bit unusual, to feel a little apprehensive," explained Doctor Rock, who earned his MD at Columbia and has nearly twelve years experience as a GP. "There's a bit of what you could call performance anxiety. You know, if the president has a heart attack or gets hit in the head by a can of beer or, I don't know, just falls off the stage, will I be able to handle it? I mean, you train your whole life for a gig like this, and it would be kind of nice to get a chance to show what you're made of. All I've had a chance to do is clean up after a couple of biking accidents, but deep down inside, I know I've got the right stuff."

Bush was in Kansas promoting the administrations domestic spying program, and apparently had worked himself up into a heightened state of perplexity.

"You know, it's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he was just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" Bush said. "Answer me that. I could break the law in a number of ways, if I was so inclined. I could get on the presidential bicycle and travel down the HOV lane at a frightening pace. Hey, Congress knows all about it. My lawyers know all about it. Now it's time that the American people know all about it. Who's looking out for you?"

"You are, Mister President," said Bill O'Reilly, who was attending the rally as a very special guest.

"Darn tootin', Bill. I hear from average Americans every day, as well as below average Americans and above average Americans, and they tell me 'keep it up, do what it takes to stop the bad guys, our precious civil rights aren't worth a hill of beans if we're nothing but smoldering corpses'. Back during the bad old days of the cold war, America was threatened by a Soviet Union which had 30,000 nuclear bombs, and what did the government do? Absolutely nothing. Under my administration, we hear of one Imam with a pellet gun and it's Molly bar the doors. I tell you, Americans have never been as protected as they are today, and they like it like that. Who wants more protection, let me hear you."

"The applause was deafening," said Doctor Rock. "The president was basking in it, but to my eyes he was starting to look kind of pale. And he kept putting his hand to his forehead like he had a migraine or something, so I brought out my black bag just in case."

The president then surprised everyone by declaring it question and answer time. "At first I thought there had been some kind of terrible mistake," said Doctor Rock. "This audience had not been pre-screened and it just seemed kind of risky. Of course, this was Kansas, but you never can tell. I was relieved that the first question was about beef production, but I didn't let my guard down. After all, the president could become sick at any time. To me, it seemed as if his eyes were twitching around like twin gall stones."

The president continued to take questions, such as the one about how he coped with all the nasty liberal criticism, the one about how he could save social security, the one about senators who won't support Alito, the one about the great job he's doing in Iraq, and the one about 'Brokeback Mountain'.

"That was my worse nightmare," said Rock. "An unexpected question. The president was just white. I mean, I know he's a Caucasian, but he looked positively English. I quickly prepared a shot of adrenaline in case I needed to get his heart going quickly, and hoped that my many years of training would not fail me. You can imagine my rush of relief when the president responded that he had not seen the movie, and then moved on without keeling over. And then we got on Air Force One and flew home. Man, that was close."

"You know, when I was back in med school, I used to dream about being a traveling presidential physician. All the excitement, all of the glamour. But you also need nerves of steel to put up with all of the stress. Believe me, there's more to this job than hayrides in Crawford."


2006, Mark Hoback