Dear Mr. President ... On Pirates

Lately, you’ve appeared to be a bit worried, tense, even bewildered. You need a way to relax and lighten up. You need a problem that’s not so darned grim, abstruse, and conundrum-packed. You need pirates.

For a breath of fresh air there’s nothing like the bounding main. The flap of canvas, the thunder of cannons, the clang of bucklers being swashed will silence your peevish critics. On a ship of state all mutinous impulses are quelled by the sighting of a hoisted Jolly Roger. And even the Democratic Party is not so inclusive that there’s a pirate voting bloc that must be catered to.

You need pirates, and you’re in luck. There’s a whole country full of them ready at hand. Thank goodness for Somalia. The April 12th rescue of Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, by U.S. Navy SEALS was the first unblemished American military victory since 1991. And even in Kuwait we stopped short and stood around pulling our mandate while Saddam Hussein slaughtered the Shiite and Kurdish resistance to his regime. The Gulf War had nothing like this neat, clean pop, pop, pop—with three wicked freebooters sent to Davy Jones’s Locker and another captured and hauled in to the dock, there to face stern justice for brigandage upon the high seas. (Albeit our bloodthirsty sea dog prisoner has so far been mostly notable for his sheepish grin, confused mien, and appearing to be about twelve years old—but we’ll get back to that.)

Bullying pirates is bipartisan. Bullying pirates is a consensus-builder. Our nation—and your presidency—could do with more of it. And if we have to gather all the 100-foot yachts once owned by AIG executives and now in the possession of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and send these to the Horn of Africa to lure the Somalis from their pirate lairs, so be it.

What an improvement over the other challenges you face. Pirates don’t invest in hedge funds, credit swaps, or toxic mortgage debt. Major pirate financial institutions never collapse and require infusions of government funds because pirates bury gold doubloons in treasure chests and leave maps marked with an X so we can dig up the gold and replenish the Federal Reserve without recourse to painful tax increases. Plus, if pirates do want a bailout, just toss them a rusty bucket.

P. J. O’Rourke is a political satirist, author, and a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.

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