Think the unthinkable: a party in Baghdad, and an Alistair Cooke worth listening to

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The Independent Online
Very few of us can remember what exactly happens when an American president is forced to leave the White House in disgrace, and those of us who can remember, can't remember very well, so today I am suspending normal transmissions in order to bring you a special programme to answer the big question:

So, what would happen if the President were forced to leave the White House in disgrace?

Well, the first thing that would happen would be that the most senior and most experienced elder citizen in America would be asked to pronounce on the matter.

What is his name?

Alistair Cooke. For once in a while, Alistair Cooke's Letter From America would have a ready-made subject.

And he would tell the nation what should be done?

No. He would tell the nation what has happened on all previous occasions, going back into pre-history if necessary.

How far back is pre-history?

For Alistair Cooke, this means pre-1800. For the average American, pre- 1980. Then, when Alistair Cooke has had his say, President Clinton would go on TV to make a very, very, very important statement.

What would this very, very, very important statement consist of?


No, seriously.

You think I'm joking?

OK, well let's assume the unthinkable happens ...

And Clinton doesn't resign?

Let's assume that Clinton resigns - what happens next?

They declare a public holiday in Iraq ...

I beg your pardon?

You have to remember that the chief function of the American presidency is to condemn dictatorial leaders round the world, such as Gaddafy, and Castro, and Saddam Hussein, and work for their downfall ...

But these guys have been in power for 30 years!

Oh, sure. When the Americans set out to topple a figure, he stays there for 30 years. It's only the guys they support who get toppled, such as the Shah, Gorbachev, and so on. Clinton set out to topple Saddam Hussein. If Clinton gets toppled instead, it's going to look pretty funny in Baghdad.

Who will take over from Clinton?

Hillary Clinton.


She is the only woman in America who can actually prove she has not committed adultery with Bill Clinton. Then she will resign to stand by her husband, and Al Gore will take over.

And then?

The media will print thousands of articles entitled "Who is Our Unknown President?"

And who is he?

Nobody knows. But you can bet your bottom dollar that Alistair Cooke will rise to the occasion.


By going back into pre-history and looking at previous occasions when the vice-president took over, and discussing the unthinkable.

What is the unthinkable?

I can't imagine.

No, seriously.

The unthinkable is that some paper might come up with positive proof that Al Gore has been conducting illicit relations with bimbos. Alistair Cooke would then have to search history for some example of when the vice- president had to resign as well.

Oh, my God. Are there any such examples?

Indubitably. Any devotee of Letter From America will be aware that everything has already happened before in American history.

But how has this shocking state of affairs come about? Clinton can't be the first president to be guilty of peccadilloes! JFK wasn't exactly a saint, was he?

No, but President Kennedy obeyed the Monroe Doctrine.

What is the Monroe Doctrine?

The Monroe Doctrine states that if you let people believe you are having an affair with Marilyn Monroe - which you are NOT - you can get away with millions of other clandestine affairs, which you ARE having.

I see. How does this apply to Bill Clinton?

It doesn't. Nothing applies to Bill Clinton.

This has been a public information service broadcast. Please stay tuned to this station for further announcements.