"Hello, Mr. President, listen carefully. I'm only going to say this once. We're holding SALT II hostage up on the Hill, and we're going to kill it unless you follow our instructions."
"Don't hurt it, SALT is all I've got. If anything happens to it, I don't know what I'll do."
"Well, if you ever want to see it again you better meet our demands."
"What are they?"
"We want the Soviet troops out of Cuba."
"It's not in my power to do that. Won't you take a dam or a new Air Force base instead?"
"Don't mess with us, Mr. President. We mean business. You're to go on television and tell the Soviets that unless they get the troops out by the end of the month they'll never see SALT again."
"I can talk to them, but suppose they don't buy it?"
"That's your problem, not ours. Also, we want you to increase the defense budget by 5 percent."
"But that will only add to the deficit and will destroy my attempts to control inflation."
"Hold it a moment. We're going to put SALT II on the phone."
"SALT -- SALT, are you all right?"
"All right, Mr. President. Are you convinced we're not kidding around?"
"What do you want?"
"We want a $30 billion MX system, a $2 billion nuclear carrier, a large fleet of $100 million B-1 bombers, new $10 million tanks, and 3,000 million-dollar cruise missiles."
"I don't have the money."
"You can find it, Mr. President. What's money compared to a SALT treaty?"
"I'll see what I can do. How much time do I have?"
"Not much. And if you reveal any of this conversation to the public, it's bye-bye treaty."
"Have you hurt it already?"
"You might not recognize it by the time we get finished with it. I'm having a tough time keeping my people from roughing it up right now."
"Tell them not to touch it. I'll do anything to save it. But how can I be sure you're really holding SALT as hostage?"
"We've cut off one of its codicils, and we're sending it to you in the mail."
"You didn't have to do that."
"Don't tell us what we can do or cannot do, Mr. President. Just be grateful we haven't buried it already."
"I'll get the money. When will you contact me?"
"As soon as you get the troops out of Cuba and find the money for the new weapons, plant a classified advertisement in the Evans-Novak column. When it appears we'll contact you and let you know where you can pick up the treaty."
"Let me speak to SALT again."
"SALT, this is Jimmy. I'll get you out of there if it costs me everything in the budget. Can you hang on just a little longer until I talk to the Russians again? SALT, are you there?