Monday, August 27, 2012
Mitt and party coordinators go over final convention staging plans. He’s in a current/recurrent feud with Mike Huckabee, leader of what’s considered the party’s wingnut wing, over the Todd Akins ciontroversy. Mitt threatened to take away Huckabee’s convention speech, then backed off from the threat. He ponders restoring the threat.
"We don’t need Huckabee!” Romney asserts. “I won. I’m the candidate.”
Staffers nod agreeablY. They’d rather not have Huckabee. He turns off moderates and Democrats. Behind them hangs a large red “REPUBLICAN” banner.
“I want this convention to be great!” Mitt says forcefully. The actual ruthless-businessman side of the candidate has come out. “Spectacular! Mind-blowing. Better than the Olympics! What have we got?”
“We start with a line-up of minority Republicans on stage, every one we could round up, rich restaurant owners and a couple basketball stars. They’ll be wearing 3-piece business suits as they sway side-to-side singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’”
“Then Governor Christie rips a cardboard cutout of the President to shreds. He’s been instructed to sneer.”
“Then we have you and Chairman Ryan flying into the arena on wires, dressed in superhero costumes.”
“I want to be Batman,” Romney suggests to them an eager voice. “I’m a fan of Bruce Wayne. He’s a rich guy, like me. Ryan can be Spiderman if he wants.”
Aides type these instructions into their phones.
“Will that be enough?” Mitt worries. “I envisioned something larger than life. We have to get ratings. I wanted to blow the roof off.”
“There’s a hurricane coming,” a staffer reminds them.
“Yes, but it might bypass us,” Romney muses. “It would be fabulous if it took out the hall at the climax of my speech. Great visuals. Where’s the God Squad when we need them? Who’s connected to the Big Guy upstairs? We need the hurricane pushed our way by a few miles. I’m a Mormon. We’re a young religion. I’m not sure I carry enough clout.”
Silence for a minute.
“I’d suggest Mike Huckabee,” someone bravely whispers.
“Huckabee!” Romney thunders. “Yes. Huckabee.” Mitt chuckles. “It would come down, after all, wouldn’t it, to Huckabee!”
He uooks toward his chief aide.
“Get Mike Huckabee on the phone,” Mitt orders.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
With a well-practiced sneer, Russian President Vladimir Putin looks skeptically at his Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who’s parked on a nearby chair. They sit in Putin’s office in the Kremlin, which is not at all luxurious. In fact, it’s spartan—not unlike a Soviet-style interrogation room. President Putin has nothing but scorn for Western-style comfort. Soft Americans! Putin thinks. Too much comfort has made America weak. Putin can’t wait until the Moscow snows come again so he can go for a ten-mile jog in two-foot deep snow, in the woods around his dacha. Let’s see Obama top that!
If Dmitri Medvedev were able to question anything, he’d question this room. But his mouth remains shut.
They are “meeting” this morning—if you could call this one-sided encounter a meeting—because Vladimir Putin has received from Obama an invitation to appear at Obama’s worldwide televised pre-election Victory Celebration, along with all other world leaders, with the possible exception of Assad in Syria, who might have too much else to do.
“I’m to perform like a trained bear!” Putin expounds to Medvedev, shaking his head, while Medvedev remains silent. “What do you think, Dmitri? Should we do our act together? Do we fool the stupid Americans again?”
Putin laughs loudly. One would think he never does, but behind closed doors he laughs often, only to himself or to Dmitri. It wouldn’t do to be seen laughing in public. Might destroy Putin’s image. Laughter is weakness. Russian people don’t laugh! Life is too tragic to laugh. Laughter is for soft Westerners, like those stupid Europeans now going bankrupt. Not so much laughter anymore from them, Putin smiles.
Outside the office window, in Red Square, are the sounds of CIA-paid protestors. Putin allows them to make a little noise, for now. If the CIA wants to deplete its budget, who is he to stop it? Putin laughs some more.
“What do you think, Dmitri? Why is Obama having so much trouble winning this election? Why doesn’t he become smart, like me, Vladimir Putin? Stupid American!”
Dmitri has no response to this. He sits silently.
“You dummy,” Putin says to him, with a disrespectful sneer.
Medvedev is too obedient to respond. How could he possibly respond? As Putin looks at the stooge on the chair, he thinks back to how well their act has indeed gone over. Western journalists actually believed that Medvedev could have an independent voice. He made the appropriate noises. Putin made sure he made the appropriate noises. Appeared out of nowhere. A fresh face, which media enjoys. What a plan! Putin applauds himself for his own shrewd Russian genius. Medvedev came right out of central casting. Handsome and well-spoken, if a bit on the short side. Naturally very short, as his kind usually is. It worked well for Vladimir to have a sidekick shorter than himself. Medvedev, anyway, looks impressive sitting down. At a table or a desk. The head and the shoulers are all that matters. Putin provides the words.
Putin thinks back to the practice it took. Not so much, after all. Learning the technique was easy. Even the standard tricks, like drinking water while Dmitri spoke. Putin of course employed a true expert when Dmitri was sent off by himself. The interpreter! Who else? Always leaning close. You wouldn’t catch it, would you, you stupid Americans! Not even the smart Obama. Smart, but not smart enough to see the obvious. People like to be fooled. They love illusion. After all, what else is politics—even the American brand—but illusion? Democracy! Putin learned the lessons of “democracy” well. The Americans are a bit slicker at it, of course, have been at it longer. Always two credible candidates, safely screened, “New Class” people, obedient and tamed, so that whichever one wins doesn’t matter to those pulling the strings behind the scenes. The imperialist American policy remains the same. Yes, Putin grudgingly admits as the protest outside the window becomes louder, he still has much to learn from the Americans about politics.
But, at least, with his good friend and associate Dmitri Medvedev, with this one trick, he, Vladimir Putin, has topped the slick Americans!
“What do you think, Dummy—I mean, Dmitri?” Putin asks the figure on the nearby chair who listens obediently to all Putin says. “Should we attend the Obama pre-election ‘Celebration’ and perform for the world? A little soft shoe? Should we sing a tune? A Russian folk song? Or will our usual routine be enough?”
Dmitri Medvedev, Prime Minister of all Russia, remains silent, as polished a politician as ever. Very polished.
“Sometimes, Dmitri,” Putin exclaims, “I think you’re almost as wooden-headed as Obama’s own sidekick Mr. Biden. Almost!”
To his own joke, Russian President Vladimir Putin laughs and laughs while Dmitri sits limply with the same-as-ever wooden expression on his handsomely smiling visage. Putin’s laughter rises to the ceiling and fills the entire room. The joke, of course, is that Dmitri is an actual dummy, and Putin has been doing the ventriloquist routine now for several years.
Monday, July 16, 2012
“What group did you say this person represents?” President Obama asks his aide.
“The LGBTQRS Alliance.”
“What does the R and S stand for?”
“You don’t want to know, Mr. President.”
The LGBTQRS representative is brought into the office and invited to have a seat. Obama studies the confident individual with curiosity and puzzlement.
“Welcome, er, Mr., er, Ms., er, ah,” Obama says with his trademark stutter.
“Call me Zox,” the person says.
The President glances down at a briefing note he’s been handed. The note says that Zox is from Harvard. The President brightens. His alma mater. They have something in common.
“Excuse me,” Zox says, “if I don’t refer to you as Mr. President. The LGBTQRS Alliance has decided that Mr. is a patronizing title. We’re against all titles, of any kind, though if we were to use titles we wouldn’t use Mr. or even Ms. Maybe a new one, Mx., which stands for no gender. But titles are obsolete. Genders are obsolete. Sexes are obsolete.”
Obama takes this in and slightly nods his head. He notices a book in Zox’s hand, perhaps the source of these ideas. it looks like a sci-fi novel. “Escape from Zorxon.” Presumably someplace, if only fictional, where these new ways of thinking have occurred.
“I’ve never been less than thoroughly progressive,” Obama affirms.
“As for the ‘President’ name,” Zox continues. “We’ve decided it simply can no longer be used, seeing that it’s patriarchal and sexist and homophobic and hierarchical and misogynist. The word brings with it very many bad historical connotations, as I’m sure you realize.”
How did he fall so far behind the curve the President wonders? His own education, advanced for its day, now seems quaint and retrograde. He realizes he needs to figure this out. Being, er, whoever he is means figuring things out.
“Not President?” Obama carefully queries the person.
Obama places great stock in being President. He enjoys the role. Just like it that a black guy finally gets the office and suddenly someone wants to do away with the title.
“We have a replacement name picked out,” Zox assures him.
“Bub. We wanted a name as undiscriminatory as possible. We’ve decided the new name for the President should be Bub.”
“Isn’t that way more democratic?” Zox asks with sincerity. “Bub?”
President Obama wonders if he’s being put on, if Zox is here to make him look foolish. Zox might be a Republican plant. They’re known for dirty tricks, and now have Dick Cheney advising them. Obama thinks that maybe he should usher Zox out of the Oval Office, back to his, er, her, spaceship. But what if this organization and person are for real? The President—er, Bub—decides he can’t take the chance.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
“What idiot came up with this idea?” Romney’s top campaign advisor exclaims as he observes the spectacle in front of him. “Not the Veep Olympics themselves, but THIS!”
The veep candidates are at Coney Island New York for the first competition—a hot dog eating contest.
“Boss, we’re capitalizing on the buzz the real eating contest gets every year. Usually front page of the New York Post.”
To the side watching with a gleam in his eye is the mastermind behind the Veep Games, Dick Cheney. He’s relaxing in a rocket-powered wheelchair that can scoot him back and forth across the area in seconds. He considers himself a political superhero. No one disagrees with him.
At the center of the crowd, a long table is being filled with stacks of freshly grilled hot dogs. The prohibitive favorite, Chris Christie, stretches his arms confidently above his head. He wears a long sleeve white shirt which before the day is over will be stained with mustard and ketchup. Other contestants like Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio gulp at the prospect before them. Ignored behind them is the establishment choice, Tim Pawlenty. The Romney campaign gave him a name tag to wear so people would know who he is. He looks at it now. His name is misspelled on the name tag as “Palenti.”
A network anchor asks second choice Paul Ryan a question. The question isn’t finished by the slow-thinking square-jawed NBC anchor before Paul Ryan responds to it with a stream of words.
“Of course this competition is unnecessarily expensive I’ve calculated the length of the table and the cost of dogs and buns including a third an ounce of mustard and ketchup each on every dog allowing for weight dissipation during grilling determining the Republican Committee campaign funds might be better spent on something like, I don’t know, advertisements for the Romney campaign on television I know this is free airtime you’re giving us Brian but to be honest you’ll admit it yourself that your posture toward the Romney campaign including this spectacular show is proportionally biased—“ Brian Williams opens his impressive anchor jaw to respond but he’s not quick enough; Paul Ryan with clenched teeth eager to get to the table and have at it, considering Williams on the level of low-grade imbecile compared to himself, with nary a breath, continues speaking-- “given the rules of the road what we’re up against the governor of New Jersey clearly the favorite I mean look at him I consider my percentages fairly good assuming the governor is undisciplined and won’t be able to maintain a consistent pace that’s my objective assessment why I’m here the campaign no the nation very badly needs me to win this thing—“ Brian Williams signals to those in the production truck nearby to cut to commercial, the interview may go on for some time.
Watching the interview from nearby, Dick Cheney is smiling.
Then all the veep candidates stand at the long table in front of trays of hot dogs and a bell sounds: “They’re off!”
Buns, hot dogs, ketchup, mustard flying everywhere a riotous but happy scene Tea Partiers are screaming button-down establishment types frowning. Christie takes a quick lead by eating several hot dogs at once, then decides there’s not enough flavor to the hot dogs to suit his taste, pausing to slap relish on his tray of dogs as well. He tries one in a single gulp. His expression says, “That’s better.” Then he spreads his arm wide to push Rubio farther away from him—the governor needs his space. The crowd heckles Christie, who responds in Christie fashion. “You don’t know what you don’t know so butt out and let me do my job saving the Republic, sucker,” Chris Christie yells, obviously enjoying himself. Er, “relishing” this contest.
Paul Ryan like a determined focused attack dog methodically works through his tray of dogs like a buzzsaw.
The bell sounds again. The competition is over.
Chris Christie smiles confidently, his arrogant smirk akin to that of a wrestling star bad guy. All that’s lacking is a cape. His once clean white shirt is proudly smudged with red and yellow, with a few green spots from relish thrown in. Next time he’ll ask for chili on the hot dogs also.
The score cards are carefully added. Judges discuss the results. The cards are given to an announcer.
“We have a winner!”
Paul Ryan has edged out Governor Christie. The final tally is 60 hot dogs exactly for Ryan. He’d not missed a crumb. Ryan’s white shirt is spotless. For Christie, the tally of hot dogs consumed is 59-and-a-half.
Christie is combative. “I’ve been robbed!”
The winner, Paul Ryan, steps toward Brian Williams to be interviewed again. The anchorman backs away in fear and terror. He’s a Christie guy.
The establishment choice, Tim Pawlenty, has finished last.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
“Rubio? The basketball player? I thought he was out with an injury.”
“No, no. Not Ricky Rubio. Marco Rubio. A senator from Florida.”
Two Republican strategists are going over selections for the Veep Olympics, a series of competitive events which will be used to choose the Republican’s vice-presidential candidate.
“The candidate—Mitt, I mean—has given special instructions that his running mate be the blandest person we can possibly find,” one of them says.
The Veep Olympics, of course, will be rigged so the ultimate winner will be the person they want anyway. Isn’t everything in America rigged in some way? As the two strategists discuss those available, a nondescript middle-aged middle-class white man stands to the side. He raises his hand to speak, but they don’t notice.
“How are they preparing? Have you heard?”
“Sure. Most of them are training. Paul Ryan is furiously chopping down trees in Wisconsin. Chris Christie is playing tennis—none too well, from all reports, but we can’t, er, overlook him. Ricky Rubio—I mean Marco—is swimming off the coast of Florida.”
“But we can’t have those guys! Ryan and Christie especially have too oversized of personalities to be alongside Mitt. They’d overshadow him. This Rubio—yeah, he’s bland, especially for a Latino. But not bland enough! Geez. Can’t we do better?”
They scratch their heads as they scan their brains for names. Meanwhile, the man to the side raises his hand again, waiting for an opportunity to speak.
“Mitch Daniels? Well, we’re getting closer. But I hear he can be sharp at times. The nutballs who ran against Mitt are out. Definitely out. All of them—the pizza guy, the religious guy, the wacked-out chick who’s always yapping like a small terrier. None of them are acceptable to the big guy. To Mitt, I mean. But come on! Let’s get our thinking caps on. We can do better. Let’s have some names.”
“Well, if you want to go for ultimate bland, there’s the guy who was in the race briefly but dropped out when Bachmann gave him a dirty look once on stage. No one even remembers the guy! I mean, he’d be perfect. Even Mitt would have some charisma standing next to him. Or at least some personality. Putting Mitt next to Christie or Ryan would be political suicide. It’d be as bad as Palin and McCain. Who cared about McCain once Palin was in the race? People don’t vote for a veep. Obama did it the right way—got some stooge Senator who no one would ever take seriously. It worked out perfect. But we have to do better. Even Biden has too much going for him compared to what we need. But who was that guy, anyway? The media took him seriously for a week, but he didn’t exactly light up the stage. He lit up nobody. Spent the few million from his backers then exited stage right. Backmann barked at him and he ran away. Do you remember?”
“Kind of. I agree, someone like that would be ideal—would meet all of Mitt’s criteria. Timmy? Was that him? Tim-something, I think. A former politician of some kind. Tommy? No. Timmy. Definitely Timmy.”
Both strategists scratch their heads and furrow their brows as they attempt to come up with the name. The uninteresting man standing to the side, whose eyes became more alert at the mention of the “Timmy” name, raises his hand again, with a trifle more intensity. They’re looking for someone. He was sent here today to meet them for that very reason. But they continue to ignore him, are not aware the person they seek has arrived.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Select members of the Republican Party and the Mitt Romney campaign staff gather in the back room of an exclusive private club located on a golf course. Next to an electronic board giving the latest stock reports from Dow Jones is a giant closed circuit video screen. The screen shimmers on.
Shown on the screen from a secret location is the campaign's new advisor, looking like a slimmed-down version of Dick Cheney. The men and women in the room can't remember if Cheney is still alive-- or rather, how many times he's been brought back from the dead. The image onscreen carries the same gritted teeth, assurance, and arrogance about himself, as if explaining the world to five year-olds. They relate to him their dilemma-- their opponent, the President, is planning a global TV extravaganza starring himself.
"We'll simply create a better media show," the image tells them. "The Veep Olympics. We'll call it, 'Finding the Best.' It'll give us the opportunity to display front and center our party's entire cast. Unlike the Dems, we're not a one-man show. The only way the President could possibly trump it is by going to war, which he may well do-- he has no more scruples than I or you. War of course is always the ultimate media show."
The man basks in his idea for a moment before continuing. Unlike the President, he doesn't need to tell himself how brilliant he is. He already knows it.
"Actual competition for the Republican vice-presidential selection. That's what the audience-- er, public-- wants. I wanted to do that for W, you know, twelve years ago. Put all the veep candidates in the woods with loaded shotguns and let us have at it."
His eyes gleam at the thought. There's no doubt in him about who would've won.
"Maybe not exactly that, but we'll cook up a few unique contests to cull the pack."
"Keep in mind, sir," a voice in the private room responds, "that our goal is two-fold. To engage the public and win the ratings war, but also to ensure a safe running mate who won't overshadow the main candidate. Mitt, I mean."
"They may be mutually exclusive," the image says. "The first goal is to WIN."
The picture on screen shimmers away and the screen turns off.
"What do you think?" a man in the room asks, one of those tasked with producing the project. "Will any of the prospective candidates play along?"
Just then they hear a loud knock. The door to the room is kicked open. Filling to doorway is a very large man wearing too-tight white shorts and an agonizingly stretched white polo shirt. He has a whistle around his neck and a basketball under one arm while he clutches a tennis racket. Governor Chris Christie.
"Okay men," he announces. "I'm here! Ready to go."