In a speech described by historians as unprecedented and lauded by pundits as "boldly hopeful and eloquent in a confusing sort of way" President-elect Barack Obama held his first post-election press
conference today and demanded a nationwide recount of the 2008 presidential election results. Flanked by his closest advisers and Oprah, Obama left no doubt about his concerns about the fairness of the election process.
"As we've seen all too clearly in recent elections, we simply cannot trust the first count," Obama said. "We must stand by the time-tested principle that every vote counts, but for it to count it must be counted and recounted and held up to the light and questioned and maybe even thrown out. That is why I have instructed my campaign attorneys to file with the FEC requesting a nationwide recount."
As speculation swirled about the motive for Obama's unprecedented move, insiders confided that Obama woke up Wednesday morning and realized exactly what he'd won. One campaign staffer speaking on the condition of anonymity described Obama's response to the Wednesday morning papers as "sort of like that kid who used to hang out with Michael Jackson when he realized his parents had left him alone on a movie set with Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern."
Whatever the cause, Obama distanced himself from prior declarations of victory and invited Republican candidate Senator John McCain to continue posturing as though he might win. "We've had one election decided by the Supreme Court, and that's precedent enough for me," Obama insisted. "We will not rest until we have exhausted every legal recourse to ensure that the man who actually deserves to follow George W. Bush into a faltering economy and three distant wars is declared the true winner."
In addition to mentioning the economic crisis and the demands of war, Obama seemed also to be coming to grips with the massive expectations of a nation both stunned and thrilled by his election. Staffers said the initial euphoria of the victory was quickly tempered by the realization that just over half of the country now expected him to pay their bills and fill their cars with gas, while the other 40-something percent of the nation was bracing for a socialist takeover and the outlawing of heterosexual marriage. One aide mused, "His goal is to end bi-partisanship and serve the whole country, so he's obviously feeling the pressure not to disappoint either side."
That much was evident as he spoke. "Though I campaigned on a platform of hope, I clearly never expected so many people to take me quite so literally," Obama explained. "I mean, this is America, so I can understand the optimism, but I would also like to point out that this is America. Our heritage and destiny as a people is marked by an unflinching drive to pursue our dreams and a cynical streak as big as the deficit. I guess everyone thought I was serious about the puppy too."
In a question and answer period following his prepared statement, Obama was asked if his comments negated the spirit of his campaign slogan, "Yes We Can!"
"Absolutely not," he replied. "Listen, don't think of it as negating. Think of it as an asterisk. Actually, all those banners and bumper stickers were supposed to have an asterisk on them to begin with, but we were running low on campaign funds and printing that extra character was going to cost us another four or five hundred dollars. We assumed the asterisk would be assumed."
When asked about the wisdom of such an assumption and how this news might play with supporters, Obama deflected the question with his deft sense of humor. "I know what you're thinking — 'What happens when we assume,' right? Well I figured I'd already picked Joe Biden, so most of the hard work in that area had already been done. I mean, that's the first thing I said to Joe when he joined us: 'Joe, I have no doubt you will make an ass of you and me before this thing is over, but with the popularity of The Office these days, how could I pass on the chance to have a guy from Scranton on the ticket with me?'"
Campaign officials were apparently able to delay this public response
for two days, urging Obama to accept victory graciously. However, on Thursday, a late night phone call from former President Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hilary Clinton, apparently solidified Obama's determination to fight. When asked about the call during the press conference, Obama declined to elaborate saying only that the Clintons urged him to "go with his gut" after he shared his concerns with them.
When contacted for a response to these developments, the McCain campaign seemed in disarray, and no actual campaign officials were available for comment. An intern answering the phone simply said, "Everyone who wears a suit in this office flew up to Wasilla to go through Sarah Palin's closet."
However, the intern then noted that there was one "important-looking person…maybe" wandering around the office asking where everyone went. When handed the phone, that person took no questions but immediately began to speak: "Hi, Joe Lieberman here. John is that you? This whole thing is just really effed-up, John. You promised me a cabinet position and now they tell me you've moved back to the home. You know I don't like to substitute curse, John, but what the H, John. What the effin-H?"