Excerpt: 'The Broker'

He even lost Delaware, his home, where the once-enlightened electorate had allowed him to serve eight wonderful years as governor. Just as he had never found the time to visit Alaska, his opponent had totally ignored Delaware -- no organization to speak of, no television ads, not a single campaign stop. And his opponent still took 52 percent of the vote!

Critz sat in a thick leather chair and held a notepad with a list of a hundred things that needed to be done immediately. He watched his President move slowly from one window to the next, peering into the darkness, dreaming of what might have been. The man was depressed and humiliated. At fifty-eight his life was over, his career a wreck, his marriage crumbling. Mrs. Morgan had already moved back to Wilmington and was openly laughing at the idea of living in a cabin in Alaska. Critz had secret doubts about his friend's ability to hunt and fish for the rest of his life, but the prospect of living two thousand miles from Mrs. Morgan was very appealing. They might have carried Nebraska if the rather blue-blooded First Lady had not referred to the football team as the "Sooners." The Nebraska Sooners!

Overnight, Morgan fell so far in the polls in both Nebraska and Oklahoma that he never recovered.

And in Texas she took a bite of prizewinning chili and began vomiting. As she was rushed to the hospital a microphone captured her still-famous words: "How can you backward people eat such a putrid mess?"

Nebraska has five electoral votes. Texas has thirty-four. Insulting the local football team was a mistake they could have survived. But no candidate could overcome such a belittling description of Texas chili.

What a campaign! Critz was tempted to write a book. Someone needed to record the disaster.

Their partnership of almost forty years was ending. Critz had lined up a job with a defense contractor for $200,000 a year, and he would hit the lecture circuit at $50,000 a speech if anybody was desperate enough to pay it. After dedicating his life to public service, he was broke and aging quickly and anxious to make a buck.

The President had sold his handsome home in Georgetown for a huge profit. He'd bought a small ranch in Alaska, where the people evidently admired him. He planned to spend the rest of his days there, hunting, fishing, perhaps writing his memoirs. Whatever he did in Alaska, it would have nothing to do with politics and Washington. He would not be the senior statesman, the grand old man of anybody's party, the sage voice of experience. No farewell tours, convention speeches, endowed chairs of political science. No presidential library. The people had spoken with a clear and thunderous voice. If they didn't want him, then he could certainly live without them.

"We need to make a decision about Cuccinello," Critz said. The President was still standing at a window, looking at nothing in the darkness, still pondering Delaware.

"Who?"

"Figgy Cuccinello, that movie director who was indicted for having sex with a young starlet."

"How young?"

"Fifteen, I think."

"That's pretty young."

"Yes, it is. He fled to Argentina where's he's been for ten years. Now he's homesick, wants to come back and start making dreadful movies again. He says his art is calling him home."

"Perhaps the young girls are calling him home."

"That too."

"Seventeen wouldn't bother me. Fifteen's too young."

"His offer is up to five million."

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...