Friday, June 24, 2016

Inside The Clinton White House, 2018

Once again, the Democrats have been shellacked in the midterms. There is stunned disbelief in the White House. Niether Hillary nor her political team saw it coming, which was surprising because they were the most diverse group of experts ever to be assembled from both Harvard and Yale. They were the brightest minds in the country, a group Thomas Friedman compared favorably to presidential brain trusts of the past. Think JFK with an iPhone, he gushed, trying to convey something of their sheer dazzling awesomeness to an unenlightened public.

They were young, hip, dynamic and cutting edge. Thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries was mother’s milk to them. Hell, they practically did it in their sleep. They watched Game of Thrones, compulsively used Twitter, and put cute little emojis in their email correspondence …

They told Hillary to resurrect TPP and fast track it through Congress. She did. They told to her cut Social Security. She did. They told her to go easy on Wall Street. She did. They told not to raise the minimum wage. She didn’t. They said strengthen ties with Israel, get tough with Putin, and when it came to Syria and ISIS, there were only four little words: boots on the ground. Done, done and done.

Then, shockingly, the Democrats got trounced, and none of Hillary’s bright young political sharpies had the faintest idea why. They frantically texted back and forth that it was, like, the Dark Side had won, and, like, Sith lords controlled America! Their emojis told the story:

Now Hillary was staring down the barrel of Republican domination and one term mediocrity. Was it possible that the most qualified candidate in the history of the universe would rank alongside like Herbert Hoover or, gasp, G.H.W. Bush? Despair grips the White House. The atmosphere is funereal.

President Clinton gazes out of the Oval Office, cradling a cup of herbal tea with both hands. It is her second cup in a row - an unseemly indulgence, to be sure, but these were extraordinary times. Surely Hugh Rodham, glowering down from his Methodist heaven, wouldn’t begrudge her this minor lapse? She had, after all, earned straight A’s at Wellesley and became America’s first female president.

Huma Abedin tip toes up as quietly as a mortician and whispers in Hillary’s ear: “Jeb Bush sends his condolences. He says he knows exactly how you feel.”

Indeed. Hillary nods and turns away. Needing no verbal instruction, Huma withdraws as silently as a ghost. A natural born servant, Huma is psychically in tune with Hillary. She anticipates Hillary’s needs with uncanny prescience, materializing like some wispy spirit at just the right moment with a cup of hot tea here, a gluten-free macaroon there, or a clean salad fork when Hillary noticed water spots on the old one — something that unfailingly incurred Her displeasure.

Hillary was Huma’s whole world, her sun and her moon, the lodestar in her firmament. Without Hillary she would be utterly lost and helpless, like Barney without Fred or Boo Boo without Yogi. Because of her link to Hillary, it wasn’t even that bad when her husband got caught putting pictures of his weenie online. There had been titters at the gym, the Whole Foods, and her favorite trattoria, but safe within Hillary’s orbit she was able to weather the storm. She recalled the amazing moment Hillary came into her life, and Shangra-La had opened its doors. It was like meeting the Dalai Llama, attending an Amway seminar, and doing Pilates all at the same time!
“You know these things that happen in your life that just stick? She walked by and she shook my hand and our eyes connected and I just remember having this moment where I thought; “Wow, this is amazing,”’ said Abedin. ‘And it just inspired me. You know, I still remember the look on her face. And it’s funny, and she would probably be so annoyed that I say this, but I remember thinking; “Oh my God, she’s so beautiful and she’s so little!”’
On the strength of this vapid epiphany a beautiful relationship was born. Now Huma waited on Hillary with Goebbels-like devotion. She believed implicitly that Hillary was always the smartest and most competent person in the room, and those who refused to acknowledge this basic fact were swiftly and deservedly removed, often under the approving glare of Huma. She was quick to smell treason in the ranks and gave Hillary frequent updates on those deemed insufficiently loyal.

Hillary has assembled an impromptu meeting with her economic team, which consists of Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and Secretary of the Treasury Jamie Dimon, who is, however, busy playing racquetball at the moment. He sees no reason to forgo his daily workout on account of a meeting with a mere president. Alan Greenspan, who will never die or go away, ever, is on speaker phone, and friend of the administration Paul Krugman shuffles in late, harried and disheveled, papers sticking out of his briefcase.

Rahm Emmanuel and David Brock are off in the shadows, huddled together like two adolescents engaged in naughty shenanigans. As Huma passes by, she hears Rahm say to David, “That’s when I discovered frogs have more highly developed central nervous systems than insects, which makes their pain much, much more exquisite.”

“Sit down, Paul,” Hillary coldly orders. There is a hardness in her tone that makes Krugman uneasy.

“What happened, Paul?”

Krugman fidgets and stutters. “Well, uh, gee, you know, um, I’m just an academic with a beard, you know? And, um …”

“Come to the point, Paul.”

“Progressives! It’s all the fault of progressives! They just don’t vote in the midterms.”

Larry Summers speaks up. “We disagree, Paul. We have the finest political team in existence, and they assured us that we wouldn’t need progressive votes. They told us progressives are outliers.”

Krugman protests. “But, uh, even Ezra agrees with me, and we’re pretty smart guys. We look at charts and graphs!”

“Paul,” Hillary says, “we think these results are a clear mandate that the American people want us to turn right. We need to change course. The administration just can’t afford to be associated with someone as liberal as you at this juncture.”

Bob Rubin chimes in. “We feel the administration needs to become more market friendly. ”

Rahm Emmanuel and David Brock stand up and slowly walk toward Krugman. Their shadows darken his face, and Krugman physically appears to shrink.  He does most intellectuals do when faced with danger. He drops to his knees and begs: “B-b-b-but, b-b-b-b-but … ”

Emmanuel and Brock gently but firmly take Krugman by the arms and lead him toward the door. Krugman’s sense of reality evaporates. Beads of sweat materialize on his forehead. Hillary speaks sharply, relishing the chance to be play the bad-ass CEO.  “You’re out, Paul!”

Rahm Emmanuel and David Brock pull on Krugman harder. He seizes up like dog being dragged to the vet, his heels digging into the rug. “But Hill, I did everything you asked. I bashed the Bernie Bros! I said big banks didn’t cause the recession! I said inequality was shrinking! I lied for you, master!

Hillary is unmoved. Great leaders couldn”t afford to be swayed by sentiment and emotion. They had to stand pat and make tough decisions. “You just can’t help us win anymore, Paul.”

Lawrence Summers is ecstatic. His fleshy fat face pulsates with repressed joy. It is red and sweaty, like a piece of linguica about to explode in the microwave. There were insiders and outsiders. Paul was now an outsider. He couldn’t resist a parting kick: “Oh, and Paul? We fully expect you’ll be on board for the administration’s next roll out: I’m Still With Hill!

Rahm and David shove Krugman out of the White House. He gradually pulls himself together, wipes his chin, and consoles himself with the knowledge that, sooner or later, Ani Di Franco just had to be coming out with a new CD …

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