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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not Shaken, Not Stirred

Mr. Rouhani, who had mounted an aggressive charm offensive in the weeks before arriving in New York, also declined a chance to shake hands with Mr. Obama — avoiding a much-anticipated encounter that would have bridged more than three decades of estrangement between the leaders of Iran and the United States.
--"Obama Defends U.S. Engagement in the Middle East"
Despite what that quote might lead you to believe, President Obama himself was ambivalent at best about the opportunity to "grip and grin" with the Iranian president.  Indeed, senior White House advisers were so concerned about the political repercussions of such a handshake that they drew up extensive contingency plans to avoid just such an eventuality.

The following memo was drawn up at the highest echelons of the Obama administration, outlining plans to avoid a handshake between Presidents Obama and Rouhani.  (By the way, I fully expect to be extremely renditioned for sharing this information.  I can only hope my legion of fan will rally to my support--and prove more effective than the supporters of Chelsea "Don't Call Me Bradley" Manning.)


Working with a select team of kinesiologists, etiquette experts, and modern-dance choreographers, we have devised a set of options for allowing President Obama to avoid shaking hands with President Rouhani of Iran.  We have taken pains to ensure that the President maintains dignity and an air of statesmanship at all times.

The simplest option for avoiding President Rouhani's presumably outstretched hand calls for President Obama to be surrounded at all times by a "moving shield" of people.  For the sake of diplomacy, the President must appear extremely busy at all times, so these people should appear to be mid-level members of the presidential staff.  We recommend they frequently thrust pens and papers at President Obama, requesting his signature, demanding decisions, etc.  The drawback, of course, is that this level of frenzied supplication is generally associated with true national security emergencies, and the Iranians may well become suspicious when they find out that no such emergency has arisen.  Perhaps a small fire can be lit at the Air and Space Museum Gift Shop?

Should the moving shield be impractical, we could simply load President Obama's arms with briefing papers, portfolios, binders, etc., thus leaving his arms too full to extend a hand in Rouhani's direction.  Should a handshake be offered, the President can simply smile, shrug, and point his chin at the unwieldy load with which he is, unfortunately, weighted down.  (Concern: Too implausible that Leader of Free World would not have someone to carry his books for him?  Or at least a luggage cart?)

In this scenario, President Obama confidently walks up to Rouhani, extending his hand, smiling broadly.  Then, at the last second, just before Rouhani clasps the outstretched hand, President Obama whips his hand up and "smooths" his hair--perhaps throwing in a "Psych!" for good measure.  (NOTE: The Israelis are particularly fond of this option.)

As we all know, pigs are considered "Unclean" in the Islamic faith.  We therefore suggest that President Obama be issued a presidential pot-bellied big to carry around the United Nations.  President Rouhani will obviously be dissuaded from shaking a hand that has touched a pig.  Added bonus: Malia's birthday is just around the corner, and the pig can be repurposed as an early b-day gift.)

Seal Team Six breaks all of President Rouhani's fingers.  (NOTE: This option, too, is an Israeli favorite.)

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