"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Calling Bob Newhart

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has stepped forward to volunteer his services and that of the U.N. for Hurricane Katrina relief by taking over and managing all the donations. Considering Kofi, his history, the United Nations, and the nature of Kofi’s offer conjured up a fantasy. That fantasy called back from decades of yore the stand-up comedy of Bob Newhart and his hilarious telephone call routines. Suppose Kofi called the chief of staff for the Director of Homeland Security…

Secretary to the chief of staff says to her boss, “Sir, Kofi Annan is on line 4. Are you here? … Yes sir, here’s Mr. Annan.”


“Good afternoon, Mr. Annan. What may I do for you?”

Covering the speaker on the telephone, the chief of staff says to his colleague, “Pick up line 4, George. It’s crazy Kofi…”

“Yes sir, the situation in the Gulf Coast region is pretty bad. No, sir, we did not name it ‘Katrina’ as payback to the German ambassador. You, what, sir? Would you repeat that?”

“Now, let me see if I am understanding you correctly. You yourself want to take a leading role in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Oh, good, I did understand. Well, you know that international support, particularly moral support, is always greatly appreciated…”

“It’s not moral support that you are offering? What is it, then?”

“Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Uh, huuuuuuh. Got it. Well, that is very generous of you, Mr. Annan. May I recommend that you send your check to the American Red Cross and designate it to go for Hurricane Katrina relief.”

“I got it all wrong? Well, what did I miss?”

“Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Whoa! Let’s see if I heard you correctly, Kofi. You do not want to make a donation. You want to take charge of all the donations?”

“I did hear you correctly."

"Well, Kofi, I don’t think you understand how our system works. It’s quite the opposite of the UN’s methods. Here, people make the donations, and the intended recipients spend the money, and not the other way around.”

“Uh, huh. You’re offering to mobilize all of the resources of the United Nations to handle the relief money? Well… Do go on, please.”

“I see. Uh, huh. You yourself would oversee the money but not directly handle it. Right?”

“OK. Well, who would handle it, Kofi?”

“Very experienced people, you say. Who?”

“Kojo, your son, and Benan Savan. Both are available on an instant's notice, you say? Uh, huuuuuhhh!”

“Oh, yes, Kofi, I have heard of them. You might say they have become household names.”

“Well, sir, that is very generous of you, but I must present your offer to the Secretary. Would you hold for a little bit? Thank you.”

Tempus fugit.

“Thank you for holding, Mr. Annan. My boss says that he personally cannot talk right now. He is busy handling Dracula’s request to manage the blood banks in the wake of Katrina. We’ll get back to you. Some time.”


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