Safe in the Shadows

It has now been four weeks since the President had been to talk with the Advisor. The Advisor had gone over the handwritten journals of a few of his predecessors. The ones he found the most helpful were those associated with the long tenure of President Roosevelt. The  Advisor then had realized that the President and he were operating from an entirely different set of facts. If you don’t know what your President believes, it is very hard to advise him. Presidents Roosevelt and Obama have a number of things in common. Both liked good coffee and cigarettes. On the personalty side both had very thin skins for politicians and both believed they knew better than Congress or the Courts what would be the best for the nation. The Advisor’s predecessor believed that FDR’s policies would delay an economic recovery and change the relationship between the citizens and the central government for decades to come. Both were and are Populists with a strong sense that the elite knows better than the people how to run America. Those beliefs caused huge increases in the size and scope of the federal government.

While President’s change roles, the Advisor’s role is constant. He or she must give the President the best advice possible to protect the tenure and legacy of the President, even if the Advisor believes the President’s policies and actions are a threat to the Republic. The Advisor leaned back in his chair, put FDR’s ledger down, and thought, I’m not doing well. I’m replacing the President’s goals and policies with my own.  I have overstepped my role and driven my client, the President, away. I must do better. He is the one who got elected twice, not me.

He was soon to get a second chance.

The President sat alone in the Oval Office, letting his mind absorb the flow of historical, even life and death decisions, that his processors had struggled with. He might sound like he was indecisive and maybe at times he was. But he knew where he wanted to go. He also knew too many of his staff had their own agendas. He couldn’t count on anyone presenting alternatives. Now that David Axelrod was in Chicago and getting tired of his role, no one talked back to him or presented out-of-the-box ideas. He was trained as a lawyer and needed opposition to formulate strategy and tactics to bring into being the America he dreamed of, where everyone got a fair shot and the nation’s wealth was distributed equally.

It was ten pm. What the hell!  The old man in the underground office in the tunnel said he was there 24/7. Let’s see. With that thought, President Obama pushed the button that quietly called in the head of his Secret Service detail. Minutes later he opened the old vault door into the Advisor’s office. The Advisor, looking like clothing store ad with his stark white shirt and charcoal suit, red tie, and gleaming black shoes, greeted the President. He led the President over to the small conference table and poured both of them a fresh cup of strong, black coffee. The President thought it might be a dark Sumatra. The President didn’t say anything. Just sat sipping his coffee. The Advisor said, “Mr. President I have a confession to make. I believe I’ve been trying to impose my beliefs on you rather than helping you with the hardest job in the world.”

“Maybe so. But I need an honest opposition to help me think through what I’m going.”

“Mr. President I would like to try to better understand your beliefs and, with your permission, want to ask you the same questions one of my predecessors asked President Roosevelt.”

“By all means. You have my full attention. Ask away.”

“When you say you want to ‘transform America’ what do you mean by that? What do you want to keep and what do you want to change?”

As the President smiled and started to answer, his Secret Service escort knocked on the door. When the Advisor opened the door, the Secret Service Officer said, “Mr. President, you are wanted in the Situation Room now. Your National Security team will be here in two or three minutes.”

The  President waved goodbye and said, “I’ll be back” and disappeared down the tunnel.

By the author of the Jack Brandon novels. http://www.factsandfictions.com.

The author has 27 years of Government service, including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to pass on this blog or parts of it to your contacts and friends. Comments and dialogue are welcome and helpful.

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

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