Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

All Aboard the Choomwagon!

All Aboard the Choomwagon!

Photograph via Time

Editor’s note: This post is part X of the Etch A President Saga, a satirical series on the 2012 Election campaign.

“Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed.”

—Barack Obama, writing in his 2006 memoir Dreams from My Father

GOP candidate Mitt Romney and his top advisers are meeting in presidential campaign headquarters deep beneath the Boston Commons to discuss a new battlefront in the 2012 race to the West Wing.

“We cannot limit ourselves to only monitoring President Barack Obama for gaffes and goofs on a day-to-day basis,” says strategist Eric Fehrnstrom. “We scored big earlier this month with Obama’s gaffe about the private sector doing fine, but he’s too good to repeat that. We need to expand our input. We need to include Obama’s past, too.”

“But the man has no past,” says Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “So little is known about his childhood. He’s a bit like Jesus, in a way, this mysterious man that the masses have anointed as their savior. But at least we know where Jesus Christ was born!”

“If only we could travel back in time and witness Obama’s birth in Kenya or his pot-fueled youth,” says Joshua Bekenstein, co-founder of the venture capital firm Bain Capital.

“Who says time travel isn’t possible?” asks a perky Mitt, who, as previously established, is actually a robot. “The trick is to be a human cyborg, like me.”

“Mitt, didn’t I power you down for the evening?” says Monson.

“I’m sorry, Pastor Monson. I couldn’t sleep. I’ll switch off my circuits now.”

“Wait!” says Fehrnstrom. “What was that about time travel?”

“Just that it is,” says Romney.

“Is what?” says Monson.


“Joseph Smith be praised,” says Monson.

“Well let’s not give him all the credit,” says Romney. “It’s really quite simple. I mean, any advanced computer with a basic Internet connection can do it.”

“Any computer can time travel?” asks Bekenstein.

“Of course. It’s elementary. Think about it. My memory is nothing more than a hard drive, which should have a perfect memory of all things present and past—so long as you don’t shake or drop me too much. And through the Internet I can gain access to the memory of other hard drives, in effect traveling backward in time to see and feel what that other computer memories saw and felt long ago. Time travel, in effect.”

“In effect,” says Bekenstein, “a perfect memory is a form of time travel.”

“Sure,” says Romney. “I mean, you humans travel backward in time whenever you remember. We computers simply have an interconnected and limitless memory that spans around the globe and reaches backward in time to the earliest machines. So, where would you like me to travel today?”

“To a time when it was still legal to drink a large soda in New York City or smoke a cigarette in Central Park,” says Fehrnstrom. “A time when marijuana and absinthe was still illegal. I’m talking about Occidental College, 1980.”

“Barack Obama’s freshman year, a good choice,” says Romney, closing his eyes. “A moment, please, while I access the global memory banks.”

Minutes pass as Romney jumps from hard drive to hard drive, hacking into government archives and home computers, piecing together the memories and sights and smells of appliances in the Los Angeles university’s Haines Hall Annex dorm.

Romney begins to giggle.

“What is it?” says Monson. “What do you see?”

“I see a tall, skinny Obama with a kick-ass Afro! And nearby is a three-foot crimson opaque bong in the corner.”

“Has he been smoking the bong?” asks Fehrnstrom.

“Difficult to tell. Obama and his friends hover around what I believe is called the Barf Couch. It seems that another freshman has drunk himself into a stupor and thrown up all over himself and the couch. Now Obama is helping to hoist the sofa—with the freshman aboard—down the hall and out the back door to a parking lot. Ok, now they’re hosing it down. I’m just gunna fast-forward through time a little. Oh, no.”

“What?” says Bekenstein.

“The couch is back inside the dormitory. It’s in the hallway and a couple kids are sitting on it. It’s still soggy, too. That smell . . . Oh, dear Joseph Smith, I think I’m going to barf.”

“Mitt, get out of there!” yells Monson.

“Save yourself!” says Bekenstein.

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Fehrnstrom, grabbing the cyborg by the scruff and shaking its head furiously, which allows the top political adviser to reset the robot’s memory and restart the Etch A Sketch program all over again.

Mitt’s face goes blank, then he opens his eyes. “Where to next?” he says.

“Oahu 1978,” says Monson.

“Ahh yes, Obama’s twelfth grade year at Punahou School,” says Mitt. “A moment while I access the global memory banks.”

What else does the Romney3000 find? Return next week for the next installment of the Etch A President . . .