From the Non-Annihilated Desk of William Howard Taft

Posted by Jason Heller

As you may have heard, I—William Howard Taft—have returned to life after my century-long hibernation.

My goal: to run for president in this, the momentous year of 2012! (The details of my return and campaign have been recounted in the book Taft 2012. Or so I am told. I have yet to find the spare time to read it, although I must admit it is quite a handsome volume.) It is my honor and duty to be so considered for a second term, even though my status as an outlying independent candidate has relegated me to the depressing backwater of the mass media.

Present company excluded, of course.

As you may have also heard, my former opponent, Herman Cain, has been making the rounds lately in a program called The Daily Show. It is an odd show, to be certain. I often doubt the sobriety of its reporting.

My doubts have worsened in recent weeks, ever since Mr. Cain has made a pair of appearances on The Daily Show. In them, Cain mocks the dignity of the presidency (he who had already mocked it through the very fact of his campaign!) by imagining what he would do if an alien invasion happened during his imaginary term in the Oval Office.

It is not specified where these aliens might come from. French Indochina? The Ottoman Empire? It is of no matter. This is, after all, a purely intellectual exercise. Only in Cain’s case, it is minus the intellect.

Now I have been asked to offer a speculative solution to a similar scenario. Imagine, they tell me, that an asteroid is about to crash into Earth. Having won the 2012 election, you are now president. What would you do?

My first course of action is quite logical. Convene my cabinet, call in the heads of the military, and assemble the leading American academics and industrialists of the day.

Then I would ask them what an asteroid is.

I jest, of course! I know well what an asteroid is. I have for a full half-hour now. Terrifying thing, really. If you think about it, it’s almost like an iceberg. An iceberg made of stone, floating there in the ocean of Outer Space… Waiting for a proud, gigantic, ostensibly unsinkable planet full of helpless people to crash into it…

My apologies for my maudlin mood. As you may know, I was president in 1912, the year the Titanic sank. The hundred-year anniversary of the event just passed. The resurfacing of those memories has anguished my brain greatly. Although I suppose that’s what I get for wearing those damnable goggles while watching Titanic 3-D.

So, yes, there I am, surrounded by all the greatest thinkers of today. We possess the will and the resources to defeat this astronomical menace. Drawing on the imagination and bold vision of geniuses like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, we will build a giant, hollow cannonball, load it with soldiers, and catapult them toward the asteroid. Upon landing there, they will heap the hideous thing with a payload of dynamite. Then they will ignite the fuse and blow the blasphemous object to smithereens—but not before catapulting themselves safely earthward.

I’d wager that no one has ever thought of that! Why, it might even make for a rousing motion picture. Surely better than that eye-gouging Titanic 3-D.

As horrifying as this whole asteroid scenario is, I thank the heavens above for one thing: My old friend and foe Teddy Roosevelt is no longer here with us. He would have declared that godforsaken rock some kind of geological preserve and forbid its destruction.

And that, dear voter, is what I would do if I were president during an asteroid crisis. Take that, Mr. Cain! Now, if that answers your question, will you kindly excuse me? I am going to demolish the nearest platter of meatballs I can find. All this talk of rocks has left me utterly famished.