No matter how hard he worked on giving his speeches, something was not right. His polls were dropping. The former friendly media was beginning to publish unflattering articles. Every day it seemed someone found a new scandal. His close advisors had nothing to say but “go explain yourself to the people.” He tried that. Not even the Germans wanted to listen. His brilliant speech at Georgetown University on climate change and the new war on coal went flat. His ace-in-the-hole, unilateral disarmament, got only disbelief and “who cares” from enemies and friends. He didn’t know where to turn for advice. He needed it. He always had. The word impeachment was whispered not so quietly behind his back, or maybe the voice was just in his head.
One possible source of good advice was left. He had pushed it out of his mind. But now seemed like the right time. He called in the head of his Secret Service detail for a private talk. When Chris Hammond showed up a few minutes later, the President said, “Chris, sit down and have a cup of coffee with me. You remember the last meeting I had with George Bush before I was sworn in?”
“Yes, Mr. President, I do.”
“You were there. Tell me what you heard him say.”
“President Bush said when he had his last talk with President Clinton, President Clinton told him that when he really needed advice from someone whose only agenda was to serve the President and protect the nation there was only one place to go for advice. Presidents starting with Lincoln had gone there for advice.”
“Can you take me there now?”
“Yes, Mr. President. Give me just a few minutes.” Chris searched his phone’s memory, selected an obscure number and said, “Sir, I’m bringing the President down now,” and ended the call.
Chris led the President down into the tunnel running from the White House to the Treasury Department. He stopped at door that said “NO ADMITTANCE” by order of the Secret Service. Chris swiped his card and at the faint click pushed the door open for the President. They were now in a dimly lit passage. Chris stopped at the second door. The President studied the faint copper plate on the door. He could barely make out the words. Chris said, Mr. President, “I’ve been told that copper sign has been in use since President Lincoln’s time.” The words said “Eight Decades of Insights.” Chris said, “Mr. President, put your right palm in the center of the sign.” He did and the door swung open into a small, modestly furnished room. An elderly black man was sitting behind a desk, the wall behind him was covered with full bookshelves. The old man, in a very well tailored suit, got up and extended his hand to the President, saying, “Mr. President, welcome. Please have a seat. I’ve just brewed some fresh Sumatra Roast coffee.”
President Obama said he would love a cup and took a seat at the small table set for two. Chris said, “Mr. President, I’ll wait for you outside the door. I’m not permitted to stay in the room.”
“What if I want you to stay?”
“It doesn’t matter. The protocol here is very strict. There has never been a leak from this room. You, of course, can leave anytime. This man is only here to serve you. Whatever you say will stay here in this room.” Chris closed the door softly behind him. The President asked, “Who are you?”
“You can know my name but it is not important. I’m merely one in a long unbroken line of men and women who have occupied this room waiting to serve the man sitting in the Oval Office.”
“How can I trust your advice if I know nothing about you?”
“Mr. President, it is your decision. I’m only here to respond to your questions. Some Presidents have used us, others not so much.”
“Tell me how you got this mission.”
“Through the history of this small office each incumbent advisor picks his successor. The successor takes over only on the death or incapacity of the incumbent. There is no training. The advisor is picked solely because of their experience and service. Also they must be at least 80 years of age. Now how may I help you?”
“What do you know about me? Living in this subterranean room is not a very impressive setting for a Presidential advisor.”
“I’ve read all your speeches and watched you deliver many of them, actually too many. I have your records as a Senator, both of the United States and Illinois, as well as all your academic records and papers. I know about the development of your progressive ideology and the influential people in your growth, such as Saul Alinsky, Reverend Wright, and others we both know from your early life. I have access to the internet, including many data bases. Some restricted. Mr. President, the person sitting behind this door waiting to help does not approve or disapprove of the President or his agenda. We are only here to help you govern and protect the United States. Now how may I help you?”
“I feel my speeches are not as effective as they used to be and want your advice on the IRS mess and Ben Ghazi.”
“How much time do you have?”
“Unfortunately, I have some things I must attend to. So I’ll have to come back.”
“I’m always here. You may come at anytime. What you have asked me are not hard questions. Please don’t make any more speeches until we have met again. Thank you, Mr. President.” As soon as the President left, the Advisor quietly went to work. He would be ready by nightfall for the next visit.
By the author of Jack Brandon novels http://www.factsandfictions.com
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