As I sat down to dinner the other night, the phone rang, and I knew without answering what it was: an election robocall. Still, I decided to pick up, as I hope to ingratiate myself with the robots before the Internet becomes self-aware, so that I can get myself a T-1000 Terminator bodyguard. (The T-800s had bugs and often wound up showing the Blue Screen Of Death -- literally, of death.) So, as I picked up, I heard, "Hello! This is Barack Obama, President Of the United States, with an important message for... Floyd Elliot!"
"Uh, hi, robot President Obama. How's it hanging?"
"It is hanging well... Floyd Elliot! And how is it hanging on you?"
Wow. They'd really improved the robocalling software since 2008. Back then, if you talked back to the robocaller, it just said, "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike," and hung up. And the John McCain robocaller was, well, John McCain. That campaign really didn't understand technology, because John McCain was very, very old.
"It's hanging just great on me, President Robama. I suppose you're calling because you'd like my vote?"
"That's right... Floyd Elliot! Our nation has never faced such dangerous times before, and..."
"Well, wait, there was 1932. And 1940. And 1860. And 2000. Admittedly, we screwed the pooch on that one. Or, anyway, the Supreme Court did."
"That's right... Floyd Elliot! And you, and your vote, could help make the difference this year."
"Well, sure, President Robama, but I'm a little unhappy with some of your recent policies."
"And which policies would those be... Floyd Elliot?"
"Well, I'm not a fan of Eric Holder defending blowing up American citizens with drones. Or your support of drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Your wishy-washy non-support of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Oh, and the JOBS act. Dude, just call that the Groupon Relief Act of 2012. Accounting? We don't need no stinking accounting!" I've got to admit, President Robama was pissing me off a little. Even if he was just a few megabytes of Java software running on an old Dell server.
"Dude, you think Romney would do any better?" I had no idea software could call people "dude." We live in an age of wonders. "Six months after the inauguration -- and I hear he's planning to get a zombie witch doctor to raise Lawrence Welk from the dead to perform" -- the thought, not of a zombie witch doctor raising somebody from the dead, which is really just any random Friday night around the Elliot house, but of Lawrence Welk, sent a shiver down my spine -- "Six months after the inauguration, we're sending every last infantryman, sailor, marine, airman, National Guardsman and Boy and Girl Scout into Iran. Plus, we'll be using polar bears to drill for oil -- in gay people! Oh, and I'm sure I'll be so very much easier on Wall Street than the guy who used to run Bain Capital. He's all about the 99 percent." Whoever had written President Robama's sarcasm routines had done an awesome job.
But I wasn't about to be out-argued by a glorified spreadsheet. (Again.) "Well, fine, but what if I vote for a third-party candidate? Maybe Ron Paul?"
President Robama rolled its eyes, which was pretty impressive, because A) I knew that he had, and we were on the phone, and II) President Robama was nothing but software, and didn't have eyes. "Really... Floyd Elliot? Because you're up for a new gold standard? The thing that pretty much caused the Great Depression? And all the little depressions that preceded it? Or maybe you love the white-supremacist newsletters? Oh, and no abortion rights, no workers' rights, no Social Security, no aid for the poor? You and any other progressive who supports Paul are extremely dumb... Floyd Elliot!"
Okay, someone needed to tell President Robama that calling voters dumb was not the way to win an election, and, also, was my job. But I was in no mood for that; I was angry and wanted to lash out. "Fine, President Robama. Then how about... Dennis Kucinich?" There was a peal of organ music, as in the moment in a soap opera when a character reveals a dramatic secret. I sighed, thinking I'd need to again tell my neighbor the organist to keep it down.
"Bitch, please. Great guy. Couldn't even win his own neighborhood. Which is why he's not in Congress anymore." Wow, President Robama was kind of mean. I have to admit, I liked that.
"So, basically you're saying I should vote for you because the other guy sucks so hard and there are no other choices?"
"Well... Floyd Elliot, I did also bail out GM. Saved a few million jobs. Repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Oh, and I ordered the strike that took out Bin Laden."
"Yeah, that was pretty badass."
"Shot him in the motherfreakin' eye... Floyd Elliot."
"You're overplaying, President Robama."
"Also, did you just say 'motherfreakin'?"
"It's the Huffington Post... Floyd Elliot. They won't let me say the other thing. And oh by the way: health care plan. I made one! Did anyone else make one? No, sir, they did not. How about them apples?"
Apparently President Robama had been programmed with lines from Good Will Hunting. "Well, sure, but it's kind of lame. I mean, I haven't read all of it, or any of it, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't allow me to get my penis relocated to the middle of my forehead. And it doesn't cover Ebola. I mean, let's say I'm sitting down to a nice bowl of monkey brains..."
"Could we get back on topic here... Floyd Elliot?" Fine. Like monkey brains were ever off topic. "Do I have your vote in November?"
"I guess. Are you at least going to promise us hope and change this year?"
"This year our slogan is 'Let's Hope Things Don't Change Too Much For the Worse.'"
"I'm totally inspired, President Robama."
"Great... Floyd Elliot! As you live in Chicago, we're counting on you and all your dead relatives to help out." They will, too. I won't even need a zombie witch doctor.
President Robama having hung up, I sat down to my now-cold dinner, thinking, "So this is what comes of having hope in politics: eating cold pork chops in a condo that was underwater." (Not on my mortgage; the Lake has been very high this year. Goddamn global warming. It is nice to be able to poop out my sun room window, though.) Next election, I'm just going to vote for the guy who promises me hot pork chops.
Unless the Internet becomes self-aware by then. Then my T-1000 and I are going to do some motherfreakin' damage.
Follow Floyd Elliot on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FloydElliot