God called me a couple of months ago and told me to run for president. It was late at night, and he had this weird voice. It sounded like he’d been drinking, so I hung up on him.
* * *
He called me back a few nights later. He explained that he’d been experimenting with a new voice—instead of deep and gravelly, nudgy and insinuating, like Jon Lovitz. He’d read this worked for picking up women—you acted critical, and that made them want to please you. Jon Lovitz has a lot of girlfriends? I asked, but as would be the case throughout our conversations, God refused to divulge celebrity gossip. He asked if I had given more thought to a presidential run. He promised to give me Karl Rove’s super-private cellphone number and raise lots of campaign cash through the churches. I thought churches aren’t supposed to endorse political candidates, I said. My, you are naïve, he said in his Jon Lovitz voice, but I didn’t fall for it. He was just giving me “the neg” so I would do what he wanted. I told him I was going to sleep and turned off my phone.
* * *
The next time God called, I reminded him that I wasn’t even a Republican. He said that was the whole idea. Even Republicans don’t like Republicans—look how dissatisfied they are with the 127 candidates they already have. I would be a fresh face. He would arrange for me to have a conversion experience, where I would renounce “feminism and all that” and find Jesus. He thought my friends at The Nation would understand. I said I didn’t think so—they’re still mad at Christopher Hitchens for supporting the Iraq War. And anyway, why was it my job to find Jesus? It was really up to him to keep track of Jesus’ whereabouts. I thought I might have gone too far, but God just chuckled and said he liked my emphasis on parental responsibility: I was already beginning to sound like a Republican.
* * *
We talked again a few days later. He was still excited about the conversion idea. Christians love it when a sinner reforms, he told me—the lost sheep, the prodigal son, gays and lesbians marrying each other. I’m Jewish, I reminded him. Even better, he said. I could be a Jewish Christian; it would give me credibility on Israel. I confessed to him that I’d spent a good deal of my life trying not to think about Israel. You won’t have to think about it for very long, he said: as a Jewish Christian my position would be that making things worse in Israel was good because it would bring on Armageddon and the end of the world. I said I thought that was a little extreme: Americans are basically a centrist, common-sense people, or at least that’s what Tom Friedman says. Why can’t my position be that the Jews and the Palestinians should all move to the United States? I asked. Problem solved! God said that was something to think about for later, but as a candidate I couldn’t suggest it because it involved immigration.