“It’s great to see you all here,” Mitch Ronlade lied. Mitch looked back and forth across the room, surveying the faces in front of him. He hated these crowds, and they weren’t wild about him either. Iowa, in December, with the snow up to his knees was not Mitch’s idea of a fun way to spend his time.
Even worse, these people would not be voting for him for President. The question wasn’t whether he would lose the Iowa caucuses or not, but by how much. Mitch was a Republican, just not their type of Republican.
His father had told him, when he was alive and Governor, that “these people might be Republican, but they had no business making any decisions within the party.” They were “mouth-breathers, troglodytes, and nincompoops” in the words of Geoff Ronlade, about as harsh language as Mitch had ever heard his teetotaling father ever use.
The Ronlades were old-money Rockefeller Republicans, wealthy elites groomed from birth to run the world. They never expected for the “mouth breathers” to ever have influence, let alone the outsized sway they held over the party.
Yet here was Geogg Ronlade’s eldest son, with his Ivy League business school degree explaining to a man in a faded Iowa Hawkeyes trucker hat just how many miles of fence he would erect to keep “them Mexicans” out of America. It was all Mitch could do to not roll his eyes.
Times like this, Mitch went to his happy place. Mentally he went back to his year as a missionary. He was nineteen and life was simpler. He had few cares in the world. He wasn’t forced to compromise himself. He said what he believed.
“I heard some of ’em got Sharia,” the man said, breaking Mitch’s concentration.
“Some of them illegals. They got the Sharia law. Like Al Qaeda.”
“Well I haven’t heard that, but we’ll build the darn fence.”
Mitch flashed his disingenous smile, displaying all of his perfectly sculpted teeth. He gripped the podium as a bit more of his integrity circled down the drain. He couldn’t wait for this farce to be over so he could get to New Hampshire and be around somewhat more reasonable people.
He visualized the Oval Office, as his therapist had recommended. This was all going to be worth it, he told himself as he looked for another moron in the audience to call on.
* * *
The basketball arced perfectly in the air, giving a satisfying “swish” as it sailed through the net. The President smiled. He still had it. He stretched for the ball as it bounced against the exquistely polished parquet floor of the executive basketball court. The climate controlled room was perfect sixty-eight degrees, just like The President liked it.
Just on the periphery of the court was Dennis Hammerroot, his chief political adviser. Hammerroot was perpetually rumpled, even with a suit straight from the dry cleaners. The President often joked that Hammerroot was the fashion yin to his yang, perpetually behind the times while The President created trends.
The President bounced the ball from hand to hand, never actually turning in Hammeroot’s direction as he spoke.
“Am I gonna have to talk about ethanol subsidies?”
“It could come up.”
“You have to go, boss. At the very least so we can get the base a little revved up for the general.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Swish. In went the ball again. The President thought to himself, “still got it.” He had long given up his thoughts of playing in the NBA, but was sure his skill was enough to get him on the starting five somewhere.
“Iowa. We had a good time there last time, didn’t we?”
“You bet boss.”
* * *
Tonight was Frank O’Shane’s night. He had dreamed about this, ever since Randy Ainge, the president of Max News Channel, had first approached him for a job. He’d had to pay his dues for a few years, acting as the conservative half of the duo O’Shane and Cong, having to sit there as Cong went on about some socialist thing or another as the years crept on. Sure, O’Shane got top billing and he bullied Cong around the office for offenses real and perceived, but he longed to have his own show at the top of the Max News primetime lineup. He’d even lobbied Maximillian, the billionaire New Zealander who owned the network, for the spot. Ainge had resented him going over his head, and had forced O’Shane to co-host with Cong for most of the first three years of The President’s term.
But now O’Shane was free. Cong was gone, a firing marked by a tart “we wish him well” memo from Max News’ infamously prickly PR shop. O’Shane had divested himself of Cong, and The O’Shane Cause would take the lead on the network’s campaign coverage every night.
O’Shane hated Mitch Rondale. Hated the blue bloods and what they stood for. O’Shane’s people were the working class, the people who found their God under attack by the east coast liberal establishment, who saw their government silent on the spread of Sharia law, and who wanted to open the borders to just anyone huddled together with unwashed relatives in order to rape and pillage the country.
But O’Shane was a good Republican, and the polls the party chairman had showed him during their last teleconference were clear: the only candidate with a snowball’s chance against The President was Rondale.
So for the first night of The O’Shane Cause, he’d talk to Rondale via satellite from Iowa.
O’Shane pulled open his office door and yelled out into the hallway, “Where the fuck is my apple pie? Where the fuck is it?”
As he settled back in at his computer, he heard the familiar sound of people scrambling out in the hallway. It gave him a power trip, something he rarely had at home. Moments later he heard a faint knocking on the door.
In walked Frida, one of the new batch of Fall interns. She had on her custom made O’Shane Cause t-shirt, which she had proudly shown off to her friends at the Georgetown Universty College Republican’s most recent meeting.
“Apple pie, sir.”
He grunted in response as she put the plate of pie on his desk and walked out of the room.
He didn’t know for sure, but O’Shane was positive that the pies had been smaller when he had to share airtime with Cong.
Prime time was his, and The President was going to feel the pain. O’Shane couldn’t wait to hear back from the private investigator he’d sent to Hawaii.
TO BE CONTINUED