(Sample: © A. Colin Wright)   

          (An unauthorized transcript of the President’s informal speech at a private dinner with the Friends of the Union Club, before his television address to the nation)

You will all recall our nation’s excitement when we heard that our starship Exploit had found intelligent life on the planet Dee: creatures who, except for their tails, were remarkably like humans and who communicated in speech much as we do, albeit in a funny language. The degree of civilization there, it seemed, was not greatly inferior to that of Earth’s African countries, and they welcomed our boys with that friendliness and interest which Americans have come to expect everywhere.

    I was only Vice-President then, and little did I suspect that relations with that unhappy world would come to dominate my term of office when I assumed the Presidency. The fourth planet of Sirius had long attracted scientists’ attention with its Earth-like size and appearance, except that seas covered a far greater area of its surface; its atmosphere, too, was like our own, with oxygen and nitrogen, but lacking in carbon dioxide. During that first week, as the news flooded in, I rejoiced that we’d found a people to whom we could stretch out our hands in friendship: for undoubtedly they would need our assistance to bring their standard of living up to our own. I’m proud to have played some small part in the shaping of events--which I’m confident will turn out for the best despite the present crisis--but of course, the major credit belongs not to me but to this great nation of ours.

    There were problems from the beginning, of course, for we must not forget we were dealing with an underdeveloped planet. And then, because of its rotation rate and the natives’ metabolisms, everything happened all at once: Deeans simply live faster than we do. I don’t know how many of you remember what they actually called their planet. I’m sure I don’t: Rasty something, about fifty syllables long, something no real American could possibly pronounce. Except for a few brain-heads in the universities, that is, who figured it was designated in its quaint writing system by signs that looked remarkably like the English letters DEE--which is what all sensible people started to call it. 

    In retrospect I have to admit that my state visit there after I’d become President was an imperfect success. (This is all strictly off the record, by the way.) But free trade with Dee had been one of my campaign promises, although obviously economic aid had to come first. So after granting Dee recognition I’d sent our ambassador ahead to make arrangements and let the Deeans know who would be accompanying me: economic and scientific advisors, representatives of the media, and so on. With Americans so used to space travel nowadays there’s no point my describing the flight (which took only three days with our new Dow-Boeing 8000 starship), except to say that I’ll never forget the view as we approached Dee, with its vast seas shimmering a pale blue like I remember from pictures of Earth’s before they turned a brownish yellow.

    There was a huge crowd at the starport (constructed in some haste by our engineers), and as I got out there was an enormous cheer. One of the Deeans ran up the boarding ramp. He was a puny little guy, as they all are: well you’ve all seen pictures of them with their cute long tails and outlandish clothes which could have come from one of our community handout centers in the Bronx. Anyway, who can tell one Deean from another, or their men from their women for that matter? But now our fruitcake interpreter made a typically intellectual balls-up by introducing everyone rather than just me. Our mistake had been to take passengers: businessmen who were owed political favors and, for a reason I can’t remember (since they’re not an important lobby), some fags from the literary and artistic community as well. And one of these was Doren Sanderson, whom I’d met once before without realizing what an asshole he was: I’d had to present him with some piddly award and pretend I’d read his poetry. He was standing behind me and the Deean went up to him, presented him with a few cheap gifts while performing some heathen ceremony, and there was another, louder cheer. 

    I took no notice and waved to the crowd. But there really had been a terrible mistake, and they were cheering not me but that bastard Sanderson!

    I don’t mind telling you it was embarrassing. When we got into the starport hundreds of Deeans rushed up, tripping us up with their tails--and again Sanderson was the one they were interested in, while I was ignored. It was only after he’d been carted off in some kind of primordial vehicle that I managed to find our ambassador and ask where Dee’s president was.

    “He’ll be along shortly,” the ambassador answered apologetically. “It’s just that presidents aren’t considered important here.”

    It was then that I started to realize the kind of chaos that existed on the planet where I’d landed! While we were waiting--the Deeans had left to escort Sanderson--our ambassador explained that there’d been little interest in my arrival or in promises of aid, and even less in the media people since Dee didn’t have t.v., newspapers or movies. But it seemed they were crazy about poetry, and could hardly wait for Sanderson’s arrival even if, not knowing English, they wouldn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about (as if English would have helped!).

    Dee’s president arrived eventually, having walked from the city and quite expecting that I and my advisors should walk back with him! Well through our screw-head interpreter I told him I was President now and didn’t intend to walk anywhere on a state visit, except for a photo opportunity, and he finally managed to organize transportation for me--just a wagon pulled by some weird animals--although the others had to get themselves to the city.

    I must say the president seemed quite likeable, for a Deean, and I settled on the name of Charlie for him. He took me to his house: a three-room, box-like affair, like all the others I would see there--comfortable enough, I guess, if you’ve never known anything better. Only I kept wondering when the state dinner was scheduled to take place, and I was edgy because of his lack of concern for time. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried because it never did take place, and--now don’t you all go telling anyone else about this!--I and my interpreter ate every day with Charlie in his kitchen: a slimy abomination he prepared himself on something resembling an antique twentieth-century barbecue.  

    I asked how he managed without a presidential residence, or a wife, since he was obviously a bachelor.

    He gave an off-hand reply which my interpreter translated as “Well, there’s not much to do, is there?”