In the Oval Office of the White House, a game is being played. The participants are Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping. They all sit on pillows in front of the Resolute Desk. On the floor in the middle of them is a board. The board features a colored twirly path that starts in one corner and ends in another, similar to that of a “CandyLand” board. The main difference between this board and “CandyLand” is the cards. Depending on the color of the spot you land on, you have to draw a card from a specific deck. A green card corresponds to the policy deck, a red card to the military deck and a blue card to the law and order deck. The object of the game is to be the first to get your game piece from one side of the board to the other. The winner gets to be the Ruler of the World.
“Rock, paper, scissors, and shoot,” the four presidents say in unison. Xi is showing paper while the other three are all showing rock. It is agreed upon that Xi will roll first, and that the game will proceed in a clockwise direction.
Xi shakes the dice in his hand and tosses it on the board. Three. Xi slides his game piece three spots and lands on red. He picks up a card from the military deck. He reads the card out loud. “The choice is yours,” the card reads. “Ramp up military action in the South China Sea, and you get to move three more spots. Xi leans back on his pillow and weighs the option. He shoots a look to an aide standing in the corner. The aide comes over and leans down so Xi can whisper something to him. The aide nods and leaves the office.
Holding back a smile, Xi slides his game piece three more spots.
Putin is next, and he rolls a one. He grimaces and then moves his game piece a solitary spot. He lifts a card from the policy deck and reads out loud: “If you open gay internment camps in Chechnya, you can pick one participant to lose his or her turn.” Putin cracks a smile and then snaps his finger. A Russian aide walks over and leans down so Putin can whisper something to him. They both laugh. Then the aide hustles out of the office.
Putin goes to hand the die to Trump but Trump stops him. “If you all would just wait one moment,” Trump says. The door to the Oval Office opens and Jared Kushner hustles in holding a silver platter with a chocolate milkshake on it. He leans down so Trump can take the milkshake. Trump snatches it and then runs his fingers through Jared’s hair. Jared can’t help but smile. Trump takes the bendy straw in his mouth and begins sucking down the milkshake.
“While we wait, I hope you don’t mind if I throw on a little TV,” Trump says while lifting a remote.
On CNN, a chyron on the bottom of the screen reads “China escalating tensions in the South China Sea.”
Trump gets to the bottom of his milkshake and snatches the die from Putin. He lets out an audible belch and tosses the die on the board. Six.
“I’m really so good at games like this,” Trump says as he slides his game piece so that he is even with Xi. He lifts a card from the policy deck. “Fire the director of the FBI and advance one more spot.” Without hesitation, Trump screams “JARED!!!” On the TV Wolf Blitzer is talking about gay internment camps in Chechnya.
Jared comes running back into the room. “Fire Comey,” Trump barks at him. “Make it snappy.” Jared nods and runs out again. Trump slides his game piece one more spot. “Ha, I’m in the lead now,” he says as he hands the dice to Merkel.
Merkel shakes the dice in her hands, but just as she is getting ready to toss, Putin reaches out his hand to stop her.
He nods towards the screen, where Blitzer is still talking about the gay internment camps. “You lose this turn, Angela.”
The German president lets out a sigh and hands the dice to Xi.
The game goes on like this for several hours. During that time many decisions of consequence are made.
Merkel had caught a string of tough cards and opted to allow over one million Syrian refugees into her country. The catch being that after every turn, she had to move her piece backward one spot. This put her far behind all the others.
Xi was in a close third, with Trump two spots ahead of him. Xi was very measured in his gameplay. When he had the option to advance six spaces by sending the Chinese Army to the North Korean border, he opted against it. Trump, on the other hand, had made a series of drastic moves in order to maximize the number of spaces he advanced. Over the last few hours, Trump had decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, pass an extremely unpopular health care bill, slash funding to dozens of programs for the poor and end the Iranian nuclear deal,
Putin was ten spots clear of Trump, and only needed to roll a four or higher to win the game and become ruler of the world. Putin had played the game very tactfully, making a series of moves that benefitted him while also doing what he could to take turns away from both Merkel and Xi.
The chyron on CNN currently read “North Korean soldiers marching to meet US troops at the border.”
Trump’s Blackberry had been ringing uncontrollably for the past hour. The United States president had stationed Kushner outside the door to the Oval Office to stop Mike Pence, James Mattis and others from getting in.
Putin tossed the dice and rolled a two. The other three presidents breathed a sigh of relief. He slid his game piece down the map and lifted a policy card. “Wildcard: You may choose to switch places with any other contestant on the board, or remain where you are.”
On CNN Wolf Blitzer was now talking about an angry mob marching towards the White House. The ticker on the bottom of the screen spoke of anti-refugee riots happening across the European continent. Blitzer then switched subjects to talk about how the Phillippines, Japan and Taiwan had mobilized their naval fleets to interfere with Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
“Donald, I would like to switch game pieces with you,” Putin said.
Trump couldn’t hide is astonishment. He nearly spit up his milkshake.
Putin made the switch and handed Trump the dice. “You aren’t as smart as I thought, Putin” Trump said. He rolled a five.
“HA, I win,” Trump says. He slid his game piece across the finish line.
The other three world leaders stood up to shake his hand.
“Very well played, Donald,” Merkel tells him.
“Yes, a master class,” adds Xi.
“I underestimated you, Donald,” Putin says as he shakes Trump’s hand. Trump goes to wrest his hand free but Putin only grips tighter. Finally, Putin releases his grip. Trump stumbles backward.
The door to the Oval Office bursts open and dozens of Trump staff rush in.
“Sir, the Iranians have burned down the US Embassy in Tehran,” Mike Pence yells.
“A Chinese submarine has sunk a US warship off the coast of Taiwan,” Mattis shouts.
“The North Koreans have launched a ballistic missile that is headed towards Los Angeles,” Reince Preibus screams.
“Forget all that,” says Kushner. “An angry mob has breached the gates and is marching up the White House lawn as we speak!”
Trump turns around and goes to the window. The White House is surrounded on all sides by a sea of protesters, all chanting in unison “bring us Trump.” He turns around to his staff, all of whom are waiting for him to give some kind of order. He can’t speak.
“We’ll leave you to it, Mr. Ruler of the World,” Merkel says as she heads towards the door. “We know you will do a fine job.”
Xi and Putin fall in behind her. At the doorway, Putin turns around and puts a hand on Mike Pence’s shoulder.
“If you’re free next week,” the Russian president says. “We’re playing again at my house.”