“Mission Impossible” by James Jay Schifrin



“Good Morning Mr. Phelps. We’re all out of self-destruct tape recorders, so I had to call you myself.”

“Yes, Mr. President.”

“We’ve got a little problem.”

“Which one, Mr. President?”

“You know, the 50 members of the Carter-Mondale Re-election Committee held captive by terrorists for four months in Iran. We need them to help in the primaries. The taxpayers are getting wise. They’re starting to ask about the empty desks in Washington. All the federal employees I sent up to New England have to go back to work. Or we’ll actually have to pay people with our own money. Nothing else has worked. You’re our only hope, Phelps.”

“What do you expect us to do, Mr. President?”

“Your mission, should you wish to accept it, is to sneak into the American Embassy in Teheran past 35 million Iranian fanatics, get our people out safely, substitute Kennedy campaign workers, then replace the Ayatollah with my brother Billy. As always, if any of your people are killed or captured, Hodding Carter will disavow your actions. What do you say, Phelps?”

“Sorry, Mr. President. We can’t do it.”

“Come on Phelps. Be a sport. You’ve handled impossible missions for years. Remember how you helped me get elected? Help me out, just one more time, please.”

“Sorry, Mr. President. No can do. You scrapped our agency two years ago.”

This op-ed column first appeared in the feisty Mt. Washington Press on March 8, 1980.