Hope is on the way (out) – Barry’s farewell tour

obama

Today, 14 November 2016, GreekiLeaks™  publishes a partial transcript of a briefing call between the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama [OPOTUS] and a staff member at the U.S. Embassy in Athens [Athens] in advance of the presidential visit scheduled for 15-16 November, obtained through a confidential source. Only the Athens side of the conversation was recorded. 

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Mr President, unfortunately we have had to cancel the Pnyx engagement for your “birthplace of democracy” speech. We’re putting out rumours about alternative venues, but the plan is to use a green screen in the Embassy basement with a backdrop of the Acropolis. No one will know the difference.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: That’s right, sir, the Pnyx was nixed. Very good.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Security concerns, sir.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Not those guys, Mr President. No, they were dismantled. Turns out they were more concerned with holiday pay and Christmas bonuses than with the revolution.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: [laughs] No sir, I don’t think they got employer-sponsored healthcare. Didn’t need it, they have socialised medicine here.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I don’t know what they wanted, Mr President. Seems to me they had it better than most Americans, sir, but they had a beef with us anyway.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Anyway, there are these new kids on the block calling for mayhem. And the teachers’ unions. And someone lobbed a hand grenade at the French Embassy. Could have been one of President Hollande’s exes, but best to err on the side of caution. Which brings us to Kaisariani… Unfortunately, Mr President, we won’t be able to visit.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Sir, the local council have declared it an “Obama-free-zone”. I appreciate that you are deeply disappointed.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I know Rush Limbaugh calls you a Socialist, Mr President, but this is way more granular. Some kind of local turf war. The local elections went Florida-style, the Communists contested and won a re-vote. Syriza not the right shade of red, apparently, even though the New York Times calls them “leftists”, yada yada. Long story short, the Prime Minister himself can only visit in the company of the riot police. Marxist-Leninists and Leninist-Marxists aren’t welcome either, if that makes you feel any better.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I’m not sure we would want to take the Trump line on this, Mr President. But you’re right, it is… ironic.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Well, there is the local festival. This year they are extending it by a couple of days in your honour.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: The high point is the annual “friendship parade” that comes right by the Embassy, Mr President. It’s very colorful. I suggest we watch the fireworks from the roof. I can organise some cocktails and canapés, maybe some gyro sliders?

flagburning
The annual “friendship parade” and firework display outside the U.S. Embassy.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: No, the Prime Minister won’t be able to attend, he normally lays the ceremonial wreath in the parade, it’s kind of his “thing”.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: “Foniádes ton laón, Amerikánoi”. Yes, sir, it translates roughly as “Liberators of people, our American brothers.”* I believe it refers to the Marshall Plan.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, sir, you are correct. The government is expecting to hear that you will press for debt relief for Greece.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, sir, I am aware that “don’t mean diddly squat now that the Short-Fingered Vulgarian is getting the decorators in to gold-plate the White House taps”. But we don’t need to make any promises. Goodwill, sir, your legacy, that is what this visit is about. Use the word “meaningful” if you wish – what that actually means is open to interpretation, that’s the beauty of it.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: So, in that spirit, we talk about reforms, blah blah blah, bold efforts of the Greek government, sacrifices of the Greek people etc., no specifics here, don’t have’em. On the one hand “hope”, on the other hand “reforms”, quid pro quo, carrot and stick. Keeps everyone happy. Well, keeps Athens happy, keeps creditors meh. Refugees, too. Safe topic. Again, no specifics. The humanitarian effort, the generosity of the noble Greek people etc. Steer clear of asylum processing, hot spots and riots. Security, counterterrorism: super-important, thank you for your military spending, keep those orders coming, our friends at Lockheed will be happy to take your calls.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Good point. Probably best not to antagonise the neighbour with too much of the “d” word, but do remind us that he’s there, hence military spending. Tricky customer, but that’s one for you successor to deal with, I suspect he finds him more sympatico.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, definitely mention Antetokounmpo, Mr President. That’s a slam-dunk!

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Sure, we can arrange for you to shoot some hoops in the Embassy gym. You will have to go easy though – the Prime Minister is more of a volleyball man.

basket
“More of a volleyball man.”

Switchboard: Mr President, Berlin is on the line.

 

* Editor’s note: It means “Killers of people, Americans” and is a perennial favourite at anti-American rallies.


IMAGES: President Obama looking demob-happy (White House); Flag burning outside U.S. Embassy in Athens, November 2014, via patrasevents.gr; Tsipras with former Greek basketball captain Nikos Gallis via lay-out.gr.

 

 

 

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Hope is on the way (out) – Barry’s farewell tour

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