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The President's New Clothes

by Hans Christian Andersen

 

Re-engineered by Frank Thomas Smith

 

 

Not long ago there was a President so exceedingly fond of looking tough, that he spent much of his time practicing before the mirror. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to their funerals or going for a ride in his presidential jet, except to show off his toughness. Instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, "The President's in a meeting," here they always said. "The President’s in front of his mirror."

 

In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two con-men. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent uniforms imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly rough and tough, but uniforms made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, was cowardly, or who was unusually stupid.

 

"Those would be just the uniforms for me," thought the President. "If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my administration are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get a uniform made for me right away." He paid the two con-men a large sum of money to start work at once.

 

They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.

 

"I'd like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth," the President thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn't have been that he doubted himself, yet he thought he'd rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole country knew about the cloth's peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.

 

"I'll send my honest old Vice President to the weavers," the President decided. "He'll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for he's a sensible man and no one does his duty better."

 

So the honest old V.P. went to the room where the two con-men sat working away at their empty looms.

 

"Heaven help me," he thought as his eyes flew wide open, "I can't see anything at all". But he did not say so.

 

Both the con-men begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful khaki tones. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old V.P. stared as hard as he dared. He couldn't see anything, because there was nothing to see. "Heaven have mercy," he thought. "Can it be that I'm a fool? I'd have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the Vice President? It would never do to let on that I can't see the cloth."

 

"Don't hesitate to tell us what you think of it," said one of the weavers.

 

"Oh, it's beautiful, it's enchanting." The old V.P. peered through his spectacles. "Such a pattern, what subtle colors!" I'll be sure to tell the President how delighted I am with it."

 

"We're pleased to hear that," the con-men said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old V.P. paid the closest attention, so that he could tell it all to the President. And so he did.

 

The con-men at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.

 

The President presently sent another trustworthy official, the Secretary of Defense, to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the Vice President. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn't see anything.

 

"Isn't it a beautiful piece of goods?" the con-men asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern.

 

"I know I'm not stupid," the man thought, "so it must be that I'm unworthy of my good office. That's strange. I mustn't let anyone find it out, though." So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the President he said, "It held me spellbound."

 

All the town was talking of this splendid cloth, and the President wanted to see it for himself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men, among whom were his two old trusted officials - the ones who had been to the weavers - he set out to see the two con-men. He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms.

 

"Magnificent," said the two officials already duped. "Just look, Mr. President, what colors! What a design!" They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.

 

"What's this?" thought the President. "I can't see anything. This is terrible!

 

Am I a fool as everyone says? Am I unfit to be the President? What a thing to happen to me of all people! - "Oh! It's really cool," he said. "It has my highest approval." And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn't see anything.

 

His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the President in exclaiming, "Oh! It's very cool," and they advised him to wear the uniform made of this wonderful cloth especially for the important visit he was soon to make to an aircraft carrier. "Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!" were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased. The President gave each of the con-men a flag to wear in his buttonhole, and the title of "Presidential Consultant."

 

Before the aircraft carrier visit the con-men sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the President’s new uniform. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, "Now the President's new uniform is ready for him."

 

Then the President himself came with his whole cabinet, and the con-men each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, "These are the trousers, here's the flight jacket and this is the helmet," naming each item. "All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that's what makes them so tough."

 

"Exactly," all the cabinet members agreed, though they could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.

 

"If Mr. President will condescend to take your clothes off," said the con-men, "we will help you on with your new uniform here in front of the long mirror."

 

The President undressed, and the con-men pretended to put his new pilot’s uniform on him, one piece after another. They took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something - that was his parachute - as the President turned round and round before the looking glass.

 

"How well the President’s new uniform looks. Doesn’t he look tough!" He heard on all sides, "That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent combat outfit."

 

Then the Secretary of Defense announced: "Mr. President, your chopper is waiting outside."

 

"Well, I'm supposed to be ready," the President said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. "It is a remarkable fit, isn't it?" He seemed to regard his uniform with the greatest interest.

 

So off went the President in his helicopter to the waiting aircraft carrier. When he landed and came onto the deck all the admirals and sailors said, "Oh, how fine is the President's new uniform! Doesn't it fit him to perfection? " Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No uniform the President had worn before was ever such a complete success.

 

Nearby in Brooklyn, a family was watching the spectacle on television. "How come his dick ain’t crooked? " a little child asked.

 

"Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. “That was the other President, silly.” But the mother said: “Can you see his dick?” “Sure Mom, can’t you? It’s a straight arrow. And why is he standing there freezing his ass off naked?” The mother and father whispered to one another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he’s naked." They called their friends and told them what the child had said, and the friends called their friends until everyone in Brooklyn knew that the President was naked, The news spread like wildfire and finally reached the aircraft carrier. A reporter said to the aircraft carrier’s Admiral: “In Brooklyn they say the President has nothing on, no uniform, nothing, he’s bare-assed naked.” The Admiral knew that if the Brooklynites said that it must be true. A sailor overheard the conversation and whispered it around.

 

When the President turned around under the “Mission Accomplished” banner and saluted the sailors with his straight dick waving in the wind and good-bumps on his skinny ass, they all laughed so hard they fell down.  

 

The President shivered, for he suspected something was wrong with his uniform. But he thought, "This show must go on." So he saluted and preened more proudly than ever. His cabinet members didn’t know what to think.

 

The top Presidential advisor said on a Sunday morning TV interview that the rumor that the President was naked was a dirty political trick started by unpatriotic, un-Christian, socialist faggots. The whole world, along with the  Blue States, laughed so hard they couldn’t stop, and as far as we know they’re still laughing. The Red States, however, not wanting to be thought fools, unpatriotic, faggots or socialists, didn’t believe the “rumor” and voted to re-elect the naked President anyway.