July 27, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (6 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

He evaded her question by trying to goad the senator, “They don’t like your wife, you know. She is unsuitable as a First Lady.”

“C’est la vie.”

“And you are not exactly the most diplomatic of candidates.”

“The answer to the question is that the Earth should not be permitted to suffer the sins of man and his quest for personal gain. To rebut my colleague’s point, no government in the world can hold its head high and claim to be a bastion of truth and goodness. China treats its populace as expendable cogs in an economic machine that should put up or be shut up. Israel persists in an unholy belief that ten deaths should be visited upon innocents for every one of their own, as if fire is the best weapon to fight fire. France’s virulent xenophobia is remarkable considering its influx of immigrants. The British make us happy, because they do what we tell them to, so good for them. But don’t even get me started about that farce that Russia is prolonging in Chechnya. And India still refuses crack down on the monstrous practice of child brides.”

“Diplomacy is the art of compromise. The United States has endured far too much of this ‘diplomacy’,” the senator replied. “You know this, yet you still cling to a fallen man who holds a once-honourable title.”

The advisor eyed the senator’s open collar. The senator had not worn a tie since he had made the decision to stand for the presidency, refusing to be identified with big business. He clearly saw himself as a man of the people and wanted to sweep away old political philosophies that cast the world as a relationship between the common man and the State. They were an ill-fit for the modern day of unfettered wealth, giving rise to grotesque global conglomerates that dominated the unchecked space between man and government. Ordinary Joe received his consumer culture barcode from these monsters and went on with his passionless life full of want and greenback lust. The advisor knew the senator was right. But he was also so wrong. His actions were not merely childish and naïve, they were suicidal. The man had taken a bungee jump without a bungee.

“I don’t like your stance on abortion. I don’t like it at all, it smacks of hate,” the advisor said.

The senator sighed. “I’m here to sort out government, not chase a single issue. Don’t belittle my position in that way.”

“How the Presidential magicians have misled us time and time again with sleight-of-hand! Look at my right hand, while my left hand is offering a free pass to the murderers of the unborn. Look at my right hand, while my left hand is signing away the rights of the American people. Look at my right hand, while my left hand is accepting bribes – my apologies, campaign contributions – from my corporate friends.”

The advisor wanted to provoke the senator into losing his temper because then the decision that hovered over him like a gluttonous storm cloud fit to burst would go away and leave him be. He said, “If you win, what are you going to do? Do you think you are going to face down CEOs and entrepreneurs with enthusiastic words? That only works on elections, it doesn’t work with real power. Their strings are everywhere, ready to be pulled and tightened around the right neck. The Japanese have a phrase: the nail that sticks out must be hammered down. You will find enemies and subterfuge everywhere you turn.”

The senator leaned back and, casually, explained the grand vision. “You have to remember that the time is right. Surely the souvenir peddlers that used to hang around Ground Zero years ago should have demonstrated that our cultural maxim has become ‘I profit, therefore I exist’. We are all tired of the perpetual capitalist wheel where the profit motive is the only commandment. The opportunity has arisen for the right man in the right place.”

The senator stopped briefly, as if something bothered him about what he had said, but shook his head and continued.

“God has given us this purpose. The people trust my motives. This is no ordinary presidential campaign, you know this. My sails have caught the wind and I am taking this country home. If the system moves to stop me, I will lead a peaceful revolt like that of the great Mahatma Gandhi. This would not be possible if the American people did not trust me. But you know they do. And that is why you came at our request today.”

The senator leaned forward again and put his right hand out. Candlelight from an adjacent table seemed to bleed through his fingers, lending his hand an almost magical glow. “Be part of this,” he said.

The advisor had come here to sabotage what was inevitable, a change of sides. The prospect was attractive but the risk – and fear – was beyond measure. The advisor put both hands over his mouth, not only to distance himself from the senator’s hand but also to block any words from spilling out. The outstretched hand before him was the one bridge that had not been burnt, kept open for one man: the advisor himself.

“You’re a good man,” the senator said. “Don’t think you’re alone with the fear in that throat of yours. We all feel it. We’re all scared. But that’s no reason, no reason at all, not to do the right thing. Please. Climb aboard.”

“We all have the power to change the future. We are all invested with one vote. Use that vote. We all recognise the malaise we find ourselves in. We are hated and feared around the world for the wrong reasons. We are hated for what oil has done to us. We are hated for what business has done for us.

“I speak with a free and honest tongue. Can you say the same, Mr. President?”

The advisor crossed the bridge taking care not to gaze into the yawning abyss below. His hand reached the senator’s and the senator pulled him across the chasm with a firm handshake.

An unexpected chill ran down the advisor’s spine as he thought: the beginning and the end look far too much alike.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2215

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