As I near the close of my time in the White House, I get the question more and more: What has been the greatest challenge of being president of the United States of America?
Crippling partisan stalemates? Growing social schisms? Escalating international instability? Any of the countless other issues with no simple or viable solution that I must contend with every waking hour, all while facing relentless scrutiny from a ruthless media and a vicious polarized public?
All difficult, true, but none of them close to my greatest challenge. Not even a little. Looking back, there is clearly one obstacle that stands out the most:
Do you know what it’s like to hold a fart in for 8 years?
Can you even imagine?
You think my hair went this gray this fast from some stuff happening in Iran?
Nearly 250 years of nation-building exist under constant threat of unravelling should I ever ease the iron clench on the executive fumes in my digestive piping. What started as a gentle pressure I could easily ignore next to the immense weight of holding the most powerful position in the modern world has grown into something quite unbearable, something they never mentioned in the oath. The nation, nay, the world, depend on an American president with not even a hint of flatulence.
You may ask why I don’t find an appropriate time and place and simply end the pain, let her rip as the kids say. I tell you there is neither. I’m never alone. On the rare occasion there isn’t a rolling camera or a live mic, there’s a decorated general or an Asian prime minister or NCAA championship football team. And if not them, at least one of those judgmental Secret Service agents, with their all-seeing sunglasses and bloodhound noses.
And I don’t mean to complain. I know there are people who have held in farts much longer than I have. My respect for the likes of Oprah, the Dalai Lama, and Anderson Cooper is deeper than ever. But you better believe that the day I walk out of the White House doors for the final time, they better clear an entire beach in Hawaii. In fact, maybe close the whole state, and move a small sustainable population of any endangered local seabirds into a sanctuary elsewhere.
I will miss a lot of things about being your president, but one thing I won’t miss is this excruciating bubble of methane in my gut. My time will come to an end soon, and the baton will be passed. I look to the future with great confidence. With Secretary Clinton or Donald Trump, we will have either a woman who looks like a master of holding it or a man who, through mastery of his own biology, simply relieves his smelliest hot air by constantly opening his mouth.