Turned frantic by unexpected news, the entire White House staff resorted to hiding televisions from the president. Screens all across Washington beamed footage directly from the streets of Paris: arms linked, world leaders set the pace for millions marching against Islamic terrorism.
“Look,” complained one aid. “Even that coward Netanyahu is there.”
Another covered her eyes. “All the world’s leaders showed up.”
“What do we tell Barack? Was he invited, even?”
“Apparently not. This is a rally for the quaint, old-fashioned sort of leader who is out front. They’re all jealous of our omniscient who leads from behind.”
“But he’s more popular on YouTube than Merkel and Hollande combined!”
“An outrage,” agreed the second aid. “This calls for a meeting or something.”
Three days passed. The Secretary of State gaveled a wood-paneled conference room to order. “Gentlemen,” he started. “We are highly embarrassed. Perhaps the president’s invitation was lost in the mail. How should we make amends and show France we also sympathize?”
“Dude, how about sharing a song with them?” suggested one up-and-coming diplomat.
In the hallway moments later, one of Foggy Bottom’s grizzled veterans scoffed at the notion. “Sing to another country? That’s the lamest approach to diplomacy I ever heard. It will never fly.”
The Secretary of State, after two more days, gazed proudly on as American singer James Taylor crooned You’ve Got a Friend to the French people. From Brest to Nice, dismayed laughter was heard in the streets: a once-great country, whose liberating army had marched through the Arc de Triomphe, was now enfeebled to the depth that it responds to terrorism with a song.