The Embassy compound’s drive is equipped with a concrete ridge that rises slightly to meet the gate so that not even the tiniest terrorist might squeeze underneath at midnight. The concrete was, as the Irish would say, too clever for The Beast, and with a lurch and a clank the Juggernaut found itself beached like a whale. Its inaugural state procession in Europe had taken it about thirty feet.

The president might have picked a more respectful country than Ireland to maroon himself. The crowd outside immediately began to laugh and jeer, especially after the Secret Service waved up a bus to park in front and conceal the presidential embarrassment: “Need a push?”

Kelly’s Towing Service of Kilmacanogue, County Wicklow, was sent for, and Kelly soon found that the slight impact had been enough to collapse The Beast’s mighty suspension. Still, even in its wounded state The Beast proved too clever for Kelly’s tow truck, and in the end the biggest tow truck in all Ireland had to be called in from Baldoyle to finish the job.

It took three hours, but The Beast was conveyed to a secure area where the Secret Service checked it for breaches of security and then secretly checked it again. Finally it was towed back to the airport, and the US Air Force’s biggest plane carried it home to an undisclosed location. They vow the Eight-Ton Lemon will ride again.

In childhood innocence, we believed that our presidents passed over history’s stage like colossi, like the emperors of old: Eisenhower Pius, who reigned in the golden age, Nixon Agonistes, William the Deflowerer, George the Ghazi, and George the Lesser.

Now, with illusion put away, we’ve sadly learned it’s all the same guy, an idol of gilded clay like the god inside the Juggernaut: A frightened little man, safe for the moment behind his five inches of armor, lost in his great plush seat, playing with the recliner buttons and looking up through the windows that not even he can open.

In theory, he could direct the driver to take him anywhere he wished to go, but he never does. He follows the planned route because he knows that though he may reign, it is The Beast who rules.

 



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