The Very Rich Man Who Was a Patriot

(Cleaning up miscellaneous files today and came upon this, which I wrote early last year but never published, for reasons I no longer remember. Self-indulgent, definitely, but just a tiny bit comforting, too, in the way that pure fantasy can sometimes be.)

Once upon a time, in a faraway place (or maybe not so faraway), there was a very rich man. This very rich man owned many properties and made many deals all over the world, and came to believe that his vast wealth and properties proved he was more clever than other people.

So the very rich man decided to run for President. He made many speeches to very large crowds of people who admired his wealth, and many who even thought he was almost as clever as he believed himself to be. Eventually, even though more people preferred other candidates, the very rich man was elected President.

And so it came to pass that the very rich man, now President, was visited by several government officials with a report on how a foreign nation had influenced the country’s news media and voters, and had perhaps even manipulated the very rich man’s own campaign.

The very rich man was shocked to his core. At first, he resisted believing what he had been told. But as he read and reread the report all night, and considered the evidence it presented, he realized its conclusions were incontrovertible.

In the morning, the very rich man called a press conference to discuss what he had learned. “I have been an abject fool,” he said. “I convinced myself that I knew more than everyone else, that my own arrogant conception of common sense outweighed any facts, any knowledge, any expertise other than my own.

“But my own hubris is not the only problem now burdening our nation. We are also faced with the fact that my Vice President and several members of our Congressional leadership were completely aware of the foreign intervention and chose to ignore it in order to preserve their own positions of power.

“I am releasing a report to to Congress and to the public, naming these self-serving officials, and urge the Congress to move with the utmost dispatch to impeach and remove them from our government. Once this is accomplished, I myself will resign as President.”

Encouraged by a deluge of calls and letters and emails from citizens, Congress acted quickly. After half a dozen separate impeachment hearings, the House chose a new Speaker, a long-serving, well-respected, experienced Member of Congress; the Senate likewise replaced its Majority Leader.

The very rich man then kept his promise and resigned. He was replaced by the newly elected Speaker, who was herself replaced by another well-respected and experienced Member of Congress. Inspired by the newfound integrity and patriotism of the former President, the Congress proceeded to pass a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate the electoral college in favor of a popular vote for President, to strengthen voting rights nationwide, to enact comprehensive immigration reform, effective gun control, and single-payer health coverage, and to make significant progress dealing with climate change.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

(I told you it was a fairy tale. But it made a nice break from calling my Senators and Representative.)

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What kind of country are we?

This segment that Ari Melber ran last night on The Last Word belongs with those I noted last summer in my “Indelible” post. It’s yet another voice with the potential to change the conversation:

http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/mother-and-son-medicaid-isn-t-about-politics-it-s-about-lives-975086147987

What we do is who we are. What kind of country will we choose to be?

Out of My Usual Mode

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following on my Facebook feed:

Holy cow, is my writer’s brain going weird places today.

Consider this scenario which just popped into my head: Imagine that a group of Scottish environmental terrorists take over Trump’s golf resort there. They evacuate all personnel and say that they will bulldoze one hole of the course per day and then destroy the clubhouse/hotel portion itself unless President Trump endorses and supports all International climate change agreements.

The Scottish government opts to wait them out, because no lives but only property is at stake, which position is extremely popular both domestically and internationally. 

President Trump ponders his options from Trump Tower, which means that Fifth Avenue is blocked and can therefore fill with protestors, while Mayor deBlasio secretly sends in a SWAT team to rescue the guy with the nuclear football.

A friend suggests this would be a great Law and Order episode, but I see it more as a Die Hard-style series of movies starring The Rock.

I thought that posting that much would be enough to make it quit rattling around in my head, but it wasn’t, and eventually it turned into this longer piece (which I decided to publish at Medium because it’s so unlike my usual writing):

View story at Medium.com

Update (12/02/2016): I’ve now added an “Other Writing” tab to my home page and posted this story here.

Indelible

Four decades ago, way back when we got the latest news only each evening from avuncular anchors like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley on the big three broadcast networks, I knew I was living through the kind of history that would show up in schoolbooks within a few years. Every evening we’d tune in to see what the latest Watergate revelation was, who’d said what at that day’s hearings, which administration official had been the one to scoff or rage at the most recent accusations. And every morning we’d scour the newspaper for more gory details.

Every few years, I’ve thought back to Watergate and how engrossing and important and historic it all felt. In 1999, its 25th anniversary, I thoroughly enjoyed watching all those documentaries with my daughters and trying to explain to them what it was like.

But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought about one specific bit of the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings that’s stuck with me—indeed, I consider it part of my DNA as an American—through all those decades. It echoed for me through both conventions—but especially resonated through the Democratic convention, which I kept wishing she could have seen.

This voice:

(The video is about 13 minutes, but if you don’t have that long, at least watch from 0:45 to 1:50)

James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman can only aspire to the majesty and grandeur with which Barbara Jordan invests the word “Constitution.” Hers is the voice I hear in my head when I read its Preamble.

But this is the single most American moment I will see in my lifetime: