President Obama: 1846

Withywindle at the blog Athens & Jerusalem has just posted a truly strange, and truly delightful, blog post.

I dreamed a series of alternate-history stories. The book apparently had been commissioned to mock Obama, but the editor was Reihan Salem, so the focus of the stores actually turned toward some combination of Howard Waldrop sensibility, and a desire to mock some of his nearest and dearest.

The result?

It was 1846 and President Obama was in the White House.

In the basement of the Capitol, Congressman Ross Douthat was playing poker. “I sure do admire that President Obama,” he said. “Anyone who invents the martini is alright in my book. Somebody pass me another one of those delicious things. One pair.”

“The martini is OK,” said Congressman Peter Suderman. “I’m more impressed with the fact that he tinkered up the movie camera, and then invented the film genre. What did we do on Saturday nights before he came to town? Two pair.”

Rest assured, had I dreamed this up myself, I’d have long since self-published an edited volume titled AlternObama. Topics covered include:

As director of the Manhattan Project, Barack Obama invents cold fusion in 1944, ending the second world war by promoting “Atoms for Peace.” — Had Barack Obama been the leader of the rebellion on Hispaniola instead of Toussaint L’Ouverture, would the Haiti be the Venice of the 21st century? (Yes.) — On inventing their two-wheeled, pedal-powered touring device, Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement decide to name it, inexplicably, “the Barack-Obama.” A century later, a young Ann Dunham names her firstborn son “Bicycle.” — Having displaced Yuri Andropov as General Secretary, Comrade Obama, a controversial figure barely in his twenties, son of a Kenyan exchange student at M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, chooses to take an aggressive stance against the cowboy Reagan. By launching a crash-course in the new computing technologies, he successfully revives the Soviet economy and the Soviet war machine, which goes on to extend a kinder, gentler brand of communism across the Afro-Asian world. Western Europe abandons NATO to join the Warsaw Pact. — Sensing that the reforms ushered in by Vatican II threatened the cohesiveness of Catholic communities, Pope Leo XIV, a half-Kenyan prodigy already rumored to have performed minor community-organizing miracles in his Archdiocese of Chicago, purges the Church of liberal accommodationists and launches a decades-long armed struggle against the major powers, ending in the establishment of a theocratic Europe-wide government, the Second Holy Roman Empire. Small pockets of Marranos and Moriscoes are tolerated to maintain the administrative state, but only barely. Catholic birthrates surge. Protestant Americans rage against “Papist plotters,” and the Second Civil War rages on. The capital of the Apostolic Kingdom of North America, in Lincoln, Nebraska, is under siege by atheist rebels under the command of aging Czech heretic and erstwhile tennis professional Martina Navratilova. — With his invention of the warp-drive in 1985, Barack Obama transformed the face of humanity, opening a panoply of uninhabited, Earth-like worlds for settlement. By 2003, the bulk of humanity had left the home planet to settle Planet Obama, a lush, Mediterranean world, home to a delicious mango-like fruit called the “Barackberry.”