Obama Declares June 1st “National Planking Day”
Washington, DC - President Obama has declared Wednesday, June 1st, National Planking Day in honor of the peculiar fad in which a person lies face down in an unusual public place while someone photographs them. The president, who referred to himself as leader of “the party of symbols,” said he hopes planking will act as “a living metaphor for the bridge between two Americas—a reconciliation between the side of restoration, imagination and possibility, and the side of self-serving civil rigor mortis.” The president spoke during a Rose Garden reception while press secretary Jay Carney “planked” between two podiums.
Planking, which originated in Australia, has taken on a life of its own in the United States, with people going facedown on everything from fence posts, window air conditioners, and lawn gnomes to appearing suspended between objects. The activity elicits laughter wherever it’s seen, and that laughter is expected “to lighten the mood of Americans who struggle under the shadow of debilitating job losses, a fragmented healthcare system, staggering consumer and national debt, and international strife,” the president said. "It's also a great workout."
Pentagon staff have already begun preparing for Wednesday’s event with dry runs during office hours, and Speaker of the House John Boehner delivered a short address on Medicare reform while planked atop congressmen Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor, the only two members of congress whose heads were large enough to support him.
A Tea Party chair-planking event featuring 2012 hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann was shelved when organizers realized a proper plank could not be achieved with both chairs on the right-hand side as the candidates demanded.
Homeland Security Secretary Janette Napolitano quickly lowered the terrorist alert level to “low” when TSA airport agents said that they would order passengers to plank atop body scanners before boarding. “Terrorists are the only ones who won’t be laughing, so they'll stand out like a sore thumb,” she said. “The extra seven hours’ wait in the security lines will be well worth it.”
International response to the president’s declaration was mixed. Jamaicans and Trinidadians were elated at the announcement, while defiant Libyan president Moammar Ghadafi scoffed at the fad, declaring that he couldn’t find two objects left to balance between in his NATO-leveled compound. A spokesman for the Taliban called the fad “barbaric.” Somali pirates were more circumspect. “Come on—we invented planking,” one teetering pirate jeered.
Others leaped on the fad. Defense counsel for former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss- Kahn declared that his client, now under house arrest in Manhattan, was the victim of a planking attempt gone awry. Attorney Ben Brafman said that Strauss-Kahn had been planking between two nightstands when he lost his balance and fell on a hotel maid. “An innocent miscalculation,” Brafman said. “Teutonic Vertigo—it happened to Schwarzenegger, too, you know.”
Meanwhile, crews hurriedly moved seats in both houses of congress to make the aisles closer for Wednesday’s event. “This will be great fun, watching the two sides try to reach across the aisle,” said one worker. The capitol was swept up in giddy anticipation of thousands of "face downs" on the National Mall. Several memorials will be closed to the event, though, for safety concerns as well as decorum. “We don’t want to see some a-hole throw a body plank across the Tomb of the Unknowns for godssakes,” said Ernie Betters of the National Parks Service.
Some notable holdouts from the event include Congressman Barney Frank, who snapped, “I’ve got your plank right here.” Republican luminary Sarah Palin won’t participate either. “I don’t like being vertical like that,” she said. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi begged off for health reasons, stating through her office that her spine’s “not what it used to be.” Former Vice-President Dick Cheney said he would not participate because lying face down stiff as a board “doesn’t leave anywhere to pour the water effectively.”
(Obama photo, Associated Press, Pentagon photo by Lisa Coyro; planker photo by Louise O'Malley)