WASHINGTON - After a White House-sponsored contest offering him as a high school commencement speaker drew only 14 applications, President Obama announced today that he would also personally provide a free liquor store run for students of schools who submit entries before the extended deadline of March 11.
"Let me be clear, I know that sometimes you lose your ID," said the President at a lightly attended afternoon press conference for high school reporters. "This is why I have proposed this bold new initiative to create a federal-local school partnership to target investments to get the nation's students the extracurricular party resources they desperately need."
The surprise announcement prompted a barrage of questions from the high school journalists in attendance, including a testy exchange between the President and Sarah Buford, Washington correspondent for the Valley High Tiger Tales of West Des Moines, IA.
"So, like, what's the catch?" asked Buford skeptically.
"Let me be clear, the only thing you need to do is apply for me to speak at your school's commencement," said Mr. Obama. "There are, uh, a stack of applications at the back of the room. Really. Just put your school's name on it. Seriously. I mean come on, it'll take like 2 minutes. My staff has filled out the rest."
"So, like, if we win, do we have to come to it?" responded Buford.
"Well, I mean, if I speak at your commencement, it clearly wouldn't be very good optics if there were empty seats," said Mr. Obama. "So yes, I guess I would prefer that, well, that you attend."
To calm the audible moans in the press gallery, the President quickly backed off the condition.
"Okay, you don't have to attend," he said. "But please send me any unused tickets so we can get some people to fill the spots."
"Hey dude, how much liquor can you get us?" asked Sean McNally, feature editor for the Weekly Spartan of Sparta (NJ) High. "Mikey Anunzio's parents went to Aruba and he has the house until Sunday."
"Well, it depends," said the President. "How much money do you have?"
Another wave of moans filled the gallery, which the President eventually silenced with hand gestures.
"Okay, I guess I should have been more clear that I was really only offering to go into the liquor store, not actually pay for it," he said, to a chorus of hisses and rolled eyes. At the announcement, many of the reporters began filing out of the press room.
"Wait! Wait -- look, I know how it is, many of you have part time jobs, at minimum wage, and it's hard to come up with the, uh, money for the, uh, resources you need," said the President, fumbling through his wallet. "Crap. I thought I had a couple of twenties in here the other day. Um, er, Andre, could I borrow a couple of hundred until tomorrow?"
A unidentified nearby Secret Service agent handed Mr. Obama the contents of his wallet.
"Look, check it out - let's see, that's one hundred and... one hundred and seventy three bucks," said the President, waving the cash at the departing students. "That ought to be enough investment for a pretty good after-school liquor pilot program."
The gesture temporarily stopped the exodus of reporters, but prompted a flurry of more questions.
"Like, do we have to pay it back?" asked Cassandra Martinez, beat reporter for the Eagles Nest of Bell (CA) High School, her arms folded skeptically.
"Yes," said the President. "I mean, no."
"Look, I'll even give you a lift to the liquor store myself, tonight," he added. "Really. Come on man, just fill out the applications."
While McNally, Buford, and Martinez waited in the anteroom, the President repaired to the East Wing, reappearing a few minutes later in a pair of Dockers pleated jeans and a Tommy Bahama guayabera shirt.
"Hey dudes, who's ready to partay? Let's blow this pop stand!" he said, offering the teens high-fives. "Hey, don't leave me hangin' bro!"
During the 25 minute presidential motorcade to Wall Liquor on Route 35, the traditional presidential-press roles were reversed with Mr. Obama supplying most of the questions.
"So who are you guys texting? Boy, you teens sure like to text," asked the president. "Is that the new Droid? Hey, who wants to jam out with some Run-DMC?"
The reporters offered no comment, silently offering the President a shopping list of Jagermeister and flavored vodkas.
After the motorcade pulled into the liquor store, the President made a confident jog to the door, promising to return "in a jiff" with the requested liquor supplies. A few minutes later he re-emerged, slowly walking back to the SUV.
"Now, see, here's the funny thing," said Mr. Obama. "Turns out I completely forgot to renew my Illinois drivers license."
The announcement prompted the three reporters' heads to slump back in limp exasperation.
"Wait, I've got this figured out," he responded. "Okay, time for Plan B. Andre, I'll give you the money, and you can get the liquor."
"I'm sorry Mr. President, I can't buy alcohol on duty. Regulations," explained his Secret Service agent, prompting the three reporters' heads to slump forward.
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Mr. Obama offered a new option for the teens.
"Hey, I know! There's a huge liquor cabinet back at my place. There must be a couple dozen gallons there at least, even after the last state dinner," he explained. "Why don't you text all your friends and tell them to come over. The address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Time to par-tay!"
After exchanging glances with her two colleagues, Buford asked, "aren't you like 40 years old or something?"
"Oh... oh," replied the President. "No, I mean, come on, I'm not some kind of creepy weirdo or something. I just thought your friends would be totally psyched to discuss national issues and do Jager shots with the most youth savvy President in American history."
"Gotta pass, dude," said McNally. "We've got exams tomorrow. Here's our cab. Later."
"Hey wait guys!" gestured the President from his SUV window. "You forgot to turn in your applications!"