The private chambers of EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK. He works at his desk, with paper and pencil. Enter CHIEF OF STAFF.
EGYPTIAN CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. President, the people are revolting.
PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK: You can say that again.
CHIEF: No Sir, I mean they are actually revolting.
MUBARAK: What seems to be the problem?
CHIEF: They want a middle class, Sir.
MUBARAK: They’ve got one.
CHIEF: It’s disappeared, Sir.
MUBARAK: Disappeared! You are in the middle class.
CHIEF: I’m the only one, Sir. We basically have two economic classes now, Sir. The poor. And the billionaires.
MUBARAK: Who is revolting?
CHIEF: The poor.
MUBARAK: That’s good to hear. I’ve got enough problems without having a bunch of unhappy billionaires on my back.
CHIEF: I’m not so sure, Sir. There are so many poor people.
MUBARAK: So where exactly is this revolt?
CHIEF: In the streets.
MUBARAK: Then close the streets.
CHIEF: We’ve tried that, Sir. They keep moving to another street. We can’t close them all.
MUBARAK: Of course we can. Impose a curfew.
CHIEF: Yes, Sir.
CHIEF: The people are still revolting.
MUBARAK: I’m sure they are.
CHIEF: The curfew isn’t working, Sir.
MUBARAK: Why not?
CHIEF: They won’t listen. It’s impossible to enforce.
MUBARAK: Cut off the telephones. That’ll stop ’em.
CHIEF: They aren’t calling each other, Sir. They’re using the Internet.
MUBARAK: Excuse me?
CHIEF: The Internet, Sir. Computers wired together.
MUBARAK: They can do that?
CHIEF: Yes Sir. They also have wireless devices. And they text.
MUBARAK: Since when do the common poor use these Internets?
CHIEF: They use it quite a bit, Sir.
MUBARAK: And they talk to each other on this?
CHIEF: Yes, Sir. Mostly with social networking sites.
MUBARAK: Why would the common peasant need this?
CHIEF: Fun, mostly. They share things and tweet. For example, yesterday I posted some amazing pictures of my granddaughter’s birthday party. In some ways, I think it makes for a richer online experience.
MUBARAK: Isn’t that nice.
CHIEF: They also use these sites to discuss politics and plan protests.
MUBARAK: Then this is the problem. What are the names of these so-called websites?
CHIEF: Facebook. Twitter. Youtube.
MUBARAK: Shut these down! Immediately!
CHIEF: I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
MUBARAK: If it resides inside my head, then by definition, it’s a good idea. Would you like to have your head cut off?
CHIEF: No Sir.
MUBARAK: Then ban these Facebooks and Twitters.
CHIEF: Yes Sir.
CHIEF: Mr. President, the people are really revolting now.
MUBARAK: Tell me about it.
CHIEF: It’s not a modifier, Sir. It’s a verb. Hundreds of thousands of them are in the streets now, revolting. I’m afraid they might set this building on fire.
MUBARAK: Still that middle class bullshit?
CHIEF: The economic grievances have been building for some time, Sir. But the more immediate problem now is Facebook and Twitter.
MUBARAK: I told you to shut those down.
CHIEF: We did that, Sir. It made the problem worse.
MUBARAK: If we turned it off, then why is it worse?
CHIEF: The people want to Tweet, Sir. They want to update their Facebook status and connect with their friends. They’re angry.
MUBARAK: Have the police arrest them.
CHIEF: Not an option, Sir.
MUBARAK: If it comes out of my mouth, then it’s an option.
CHIEF: The police are on their side.
MUBARAK: On their side?
CHIEF: Yes, Sir.
MUBARAK: But the police work for me.
CHIEF: Police are people, too, Sir. The revolt is widespread.
MUBARAK: So the police are not following orders?
CHIEF: No Sir.
MUBARAK: Then call out the military. I’ve never had any problem with them.
CHIEF: That may piss the people off even more.
MUBARAK: Maybe so. But if we kill a few, the rest of the people will fall in line.
CHIEF: The people are still revolting, Sir.
MUBARAK: I’m well aware of that. Have we killed a few?
CHIEF: Yes, Sir.
MUBARAK: And they’re still up to no good?
CHIEF: They’re fighting back, Sir. They’re filling the streets and burning government buildings.
MUBARAK: Then perhaps we should kill some more.
CHIEF: You may want to leave the country, Sir.
MUBARAK: Leave the country? You think I need a vacation?
CHIEF: No Sir. You may need to leave permanently, Sir.
MUBARAK: You would look very different without a head.
CHIEF: I’m sure I would, Sir. But part of my job description is advising you.
MUBARAK: And you would risk your life by advising me to leave my country?
CHIEF: Only because it may save your life.
MUBARAK: Nonsense. Where would I go?
CHIEF: South America is always a good option.
MUBARAK: And who would lead my people?
CHIEF: They want to select a different leader.
MUBARAK: I don’t understand.
CHIEF: The people are ready for a change, Sir.
MUBARAK: After 30 years — the best years of my life — and this is the thanks I get? That’ll be all. You can leave now.
CHIEF: They want change in their government.
MUBARAK: You’re talking gibberish. You may go now.
CHIEF: It’s been a pleasure, Mr. President. I’m going to Paraguay.
MUBARAK: Paraguay! What’s in Paraguay?
CHIEF: Google it.
MUBARAK: What does that mean?
CHIEF: Goodbye, Sir.
end of play