satire right out of history

Several of the founding fathers of the United States today expressed shock and disappointment with the federal government after they were transported from the past to Washington, DC through what scientists are calling an unprecedented “time warp.”

“Alack, this is not what we intended, not in the least,” said Thomas Jefferson, after he, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams visited Congress and the White House. “How in the name of the Almighty did all this transpire?” Washington asked.

Our founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Patrick Henry, George Mason and James Madison
Top left to bottom right: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Patrick Henry, George Mason and James Madison

The men often cited as some of the early federal government’s primary architects were alternately amazed and revolted by the size and scope of its bureaucracy. The sheer immensity of the government’s activities seemed to overwhelm them. “Pray thee, to what end does the ‘Administration for Community Living’ owe its existence?” Adams asked. “I fear that Congress was granted leave of its good senses when its members voted to fashion the ‘Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.’ I am well and truly dismayed that the ‘Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy,’ for which I am possessed of inadequate intellect to discern a purpose, actually exists.”

The idea of “career politicians” also seemed to trouble the four dignitaries. “Our vision was one of limited government, legislated by ordinary citizens who would retire to their antecedent pursuits after a brief time in government,” said Jefferson. “What we witnessed today was the utter antithesis of that: people who lampoon the very foundations of our treasured Constitution by lifelong profiteering from what ought to be a time of limited, selfless public service.” Asked to comment, the Speaker of the House declined, saying that he was “unfamiliar with this ‘Constitution’ thing, but I think I remember hearing something about it in eighth grade civics class.”

The nation’s first president was blunt in his condemnation of present-day Washington. Said an angry Washington, “This is something for which I will not stand, which is why I am sitting as I speak these words.”

Franklin drew harsh criticism for his no-nonsense assessments of the federal government. At one point, he became involved in a heated argument with a staffer of a prominent member of Congress. Said Franklin of the incident, “One fair maiden conjured forth such foul utterances as would make a common seafarer blush. Why, the lass fairly clove my sensibilities in twain with the venom of her invective.”

The comment sent several members of Congress scrambling for dictionaries to look up “clove” and “twain.” “And what is an ‘invective?’” asked a young aide, apparently a recent college graduate.

Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin were given extensive tours of the seats of federal government. Leading those visits were low-ranking aides, after senior officials refused to escort the four public figures from the past. The Speaker of the House denied the visitors’ request that he lead them, claiming that their political beliefs “clearly put them at odds with the will of the American people. Why, the government they created was the result of thoughtful deliberation by true statesmen who exhibited a genuine, noble spirit of cooperation and compromise. Can you imagine?”

Similarly, the Senate Majority Leader would not take part in the visitors’ rounds, saying, “When we think of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, we think of things like courage, honesty, and integrity. Those are more than just words in the Senate. They’re the hallmarks of authentic governance the Senate so proudly ignores.”

Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement that said in part, “The American people live in a golden age, marked by a government straight-jacketed by rancor, bitterness, and insurmountable divisiveness. Our esteemed visitors might suggest reaching across party lines to actually get things done. Americans expect real leadership, and this Administration leads by refusing to cooperate with Congress on any issue, at any time, for any reason.”

Observers noted that Jefferson and Adams during their visit today displayed the same animosity that characterized their relationship in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Adams was heard to mutter “that damnable Jefferson” on several occasions. For his part, Jefferson took every opportunity to secretly tape a paper “Kick Me” sign to Adams’s back. At one point, Adams put a whoopee cushion on a chair a moment before Jefferson sat down. “As ever, he expels much flatus from both ends,” Adams said between laughs after Jefferson took his seat.

Wearing white wigs and knee-britches with white hosiery, the time-travelers garnered a great deal of attention as they made their way through Washington. A number of so-called “hipsters” flooded area retailers, demanding similar attire. A major national retailer immediately announced that it would roll out a line of heavy woolen coats adorned with rows of gold buttons as soon as it could get its Sri Lanka-based manufacturers to convert to the new fashion.

Physicists throughout the world were at a loss to explain how Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin suddenly appeared in the present day. Theories ranged from a “wrinkle” in the space-time continuum to extraterrestrials with the ability to transport matter, including humans, through time.

As the day continued, most seemed to settle on the conjecture of a physicist who asked to remain anonymous because “this is crazy as hell, and I’m on a tenure track.” He speculated that all the hot air emitted by decades’ worth of talk by political candidates rose through the atmosphere to form what he termed an enormous “vacuousness singularity,” resulting in a “time warp” that transported the four luminaries to the present day.

“Never in history have so many words been spoken with such trivial substance,” the scientist explained. “All that hollow rhetoric had to go somewhere.” He went on to say that if political races continue with so many talking so much but saying so little, the world may see even more such time travelers. Said the scientist, “You think this was amazing? Just wait until the Neanderthals get here. We’re talking real ‘Flintstones’ stuff here. After all, like our visitors today, they’re a page right out of history.”

Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel lives in Georgia. Besides writing, he enjoys reading, sailing, and baseball. He has been working on his first novel for about thirty years.  So far, he has written three paragraphs, but they are really good paragraphs.