A few years ago I enlisted the aid of a fictional person I called the Advisor, to help me chronicle President Obama’s transformation of America. The resulting blogs were, of course, fictional, but I do think they added a dimension of clarity to my musing and scribbling about the exploits of this incredible period of our history. And besides, they were fun to write. As readers of my Jack Brandon novels know, I’m a storyteller.
First, the setting of the stage:
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Fighting loneliness in his subterranean office suite was the Advisor’s hardest problem. When he was approached a few years ago by the Keepers of the Book to become the next secret presidential advisor, he had had no idea how hard it would be to maintain perspective without face-to-face human contact. After his wife died, the Advisor had moved to an isolated cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he could write and think in peace and quiet. When the Keepers of the Book approached him, he had thought “How hard could it be to go from my ridge-line cabin to an underground existence? “Turns out it was very hard. He even looked forward to the twice a month delivery of food and supplies even though no conversation was permitted.
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 his experience and service. Also they must be at least 80 years of age. In reading of the Advisor Journals from pre-Civil War times to the present, he could sense the isolation and loneliness that plagued his predecessors. He searched the journals for ways to cope but found none, only just to endure day by day. The Advisor realized his loneliness and isolation wasn’t much different than that which presidents endured. They, at least, had that in common.
Part way through his first term during a period when nothing was going right or fast enough, the president thought back to his brief meeting with his predecessor just after he was sworn in. 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.”
The Advisor, looking like a clothing store ad with his stark white shirt and charcoal suit, red tie, and gleaming black shoes led the President over to the small conference table.
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.”
“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 databases. 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?”
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Now the stage is set. On his next visit, the Advisor will go over the President’s relationship with Iran.
“ISIS Quiet Justice,” a new Jack Brandon novel dealing with ISIS in America, is now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in print form and nook and kindle formats. Follow the author on Twitter @factsfictions80.