WASHINGTON—Despite being constantly tempted by the seductive power of having an apocalyptic arsenal at his fingertips, President Barack Obama somehow made it through another day Tuesday without unlocking the box on his desk that houses "the button" and launching all 5,113 U.S. nuclear warheads.
Though the president confirmed his schedule was packed with security briefings, public appearances, and cabinet meetings, he said he couldn't help but steal a few glances at the bright red button, which is "right there, staring at [him], all the time."
Tuesday marks the 841st-straight day Obama has withstood the button's powerful allure.
"I think I was closer to pressing the button today than I have ever been," Obama said during a press conference from the White House Rose Garden, adding that he would be lying if he said he wasn't thinking about the button right at that very moment. "Let me be clear: I do not want to start a thermonuclear war. But knowing that I could at any moment, and that it would be so easy, well, it almost feels like I'm being tested or something."
"Did you know that if you sort of put enough weight on the button with your fingertip, you can feel a little slack there before it actually clicks?" Obama added. "Thank you, and God bless America."
According to Beltway insiders, it has taken everything in Obama's power lately to distract himself from the button, which the president once told an aide is "sort of begging to be pressed, you know?" At one point Tuesday, Obama reportedly forced himself to stop glaring at the button by leaving his desk and staring silently across the White House lawn, only to return seconds later to gaze at it some more.
Obama has also been overheard asking White House staffers if they weren't just the least bit curious what would happen if he just waltzed in there right now and pushed it.
"I don't want to unleash Armageddon," said Obama, adding that there is a 50-50 chance he won't be able to get through his next day in office without pressing the button at least once. "But it's hard not to dare myself to do it. It's like I'm standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, taking it all in, and I'm one millisecond away from saying to myself, 'Fuck it, Barack. Just jump.'"
"Bravo-Delta-five-seven-three-Delta-Charlie-zero-two-Tango-Tango-eight-one-six-Echo-Foxtrot-zero-zero-nine-four-nine," Obama continued. "Those were the launch codes as of three minutes ago. They constantly change, but I memorize them."
Sources told reporters that when Obama first took office, the thought of pressing the button and launching thousands of ICBMs only crossed his mind two or three times a day. Two-and-a-half years into his term, however, the button consumes him at all times, whether he is watching basketball, playing with his children, or lying in his bed at night. During a deficit-reduction meeting last Monday with House Speaker John Boehner, the president's index finger was reportedly resting on the button the entire time without his even realizing it.
"Apropos of nothing, the president approached me one day and said, 'Think about it: There is a button 3 feet away from me, that I, a human being, could press and virtually end the human race. Tell me you wouldn't be slightly tempted to push it,'" Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said. "Then the president said he often wondered if the exploding bombs would look like a movie in which dozens and dozens of mushroom clouds rise from Earth and can be seen from outer space."
"The way he talked about it, I think I would have pressed it by now, honestly," Conrad added. "Jesus, I'm breathing faster just thinking about it."
Historians have noted that a strong desire to press the button is not uncommon among U.S. presidents. After just one year in office, Jimmy Carter wrote in his diary, "You don't leave a man alone in a room with a button like that," and two years later the pages were simply covered with the word "button" over and over again. In 1974, Richard Nixon rapidly pressed the button 12 times just prior to his resignation, but Pentagon officials had already disconnected its triggering mechanism.
At press time, large-scale nuclear explosions had been confirmed in Pyongyang, Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Washington, D.C.