AH Vignette: Welcome To Wherever We're Going Next

Somewhere Over Tennessee
August 27, 2004

Aboard the DC-10, George Stephanopoulos's phone rang, it was his good friend and inside source Patrick Cohen who was leaking him lots of juicy bits from OEOB.

"George, have you gotten the first battery of polling back post-Turkey Point?"

"Not yet, we're decrypting it now. Should have toplines in about 5 minutes, though Limbaugh was birthing a cow on air yesterday, so it must be pretty bad. We're flying to Ka-I mean St. Louis now. That was the next day of scripting before Miami, so we're doing that, then off to Denver, Phoenix, and ending up in Spokane for a midnight rally."

"Buddy, after this you guys are going back to places you haven't been to in over 70 years. The big party bosses are all crapping in their beds right now. Jeb's campaign staff don't know what the hell to do. He built that damn thing, and now Miami's still a ghost town. Thank God the fallout blew out straight out to sea."

"Yeah, we're gonna talk that over in 15 minutes or so......oh, just got the first page of polling and......aba buzza whata.......Jesus.....I'll call you back."

"Make sure you do the thing with the oranges. I always thought it was fun."

George walked to the front of the plane, picking up a sharpie and an orange en route to the candidate's airborne office. This was his first campaign, and he'd quickly been marked as a rising star after winning in a shock result in his Litchfield constituency in Connecticut. He was more a technocrat than his predecessor, yet had managed to move the party beyond it's base and played better in key suburban and Midwest constituencies.

"George, did you catch Comrade Beck yet? He's shitting bricks and droning on about how disgraceful the founding fathers would find our policies and talking about some Road to somewhere."

"Look at this..." He handed over the two summary pages. He handed over the orange and the sharpie, "I'll let you have the honor."

"Holy Mary, mother of god.....remember your theory about there being a certain point at which their blowout preventers would fail because of how inefficiently concentrated their votes are?"

"Yeah, we're probably within a point or two of that now. We're basically tied in the three bellweathers I picked for that scenario-Philadelphia Outer West, Columbus East, and Portland Clackamas."

"We're going to have to change our schedules aren't we?"

"Yeah. We'll stick to the script today, but we're going to do a West Coast swing tomorrow-Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, and San Diego and then do the redeye to Atlanta followed by Nashville, Columbus, Indianapolis, and then a midnight rally in Chicago for pure shock value-or maybe not, I have a gut feeling that we could be en route to winning the Lake County and Chicago-New Trier seats."

"Lots of places we've never been before. Okay, I knew you took the Tier 1 and 2 candidate selection process seriously, but what about 3 and 4?"

"Three is actually relatively good; about 30 of them are top flight people in seats we were never going to win until Miami started to glow in the dark. Most of the rest are solid, if unspectacular candidates-high school teachers, doctors, small town councillors, etc. As for Tier 4? Even with events places like Atlanta North, Johnstown, and Pasadena are still too molten red, though we're going to win the last holdouts in the Upper Midwest, Plains, and Mountain West except Phoenix South and Denver Center. Oh, and we'll now be winning some seats in Fortress Florida, maybe even a third of them. We'll go back there next week when things cool down a bit. Our Tier 5 candidates.....well, let's just pray all of them stick to the party line."

An aide came in "Sirs, Bill Clinton and Joe Lockhart are on the phone."

The candidate said: "Tell them, I'll be on in a sec." as he walked forward a few steps and then perfectly rolled the orange down the center aisle.

"That ought to get their attention. Okay, Bill and Joe, onto messaging....."

Bill was the party's former leader, and still a prominent surrogate for the New Democrats. Joe was the campaign's communications director and was sitting in Party HQ in the capital.

Joe spoke first: "Hit 'em on Too Big To Fail, Wasteful Defense Spending, and the Culture of Corruption. Keep talking about how the grand bargain is breaking down."

Bill chimed in "When you do your Southern swing talk about local control and New Federalism. They've never liked the dominance of the central government."

George asked "Joe, what's the mood in the capital?"

"You can smell the flop sweat. They're running around like chickens with their heads off, and the Texas and California machines are talking about dumping Red Jeb for someone else."

The candidate said "We'll continue this after St. Louis....we're about to land." The call ended.

The pilot came on the PA, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we're now on final approach into Karl Marx City, please buckle your seatbelts and put your tray tables in their upright positions."

George looked over at the two TVs. One had the Comrade Beck show, and he was doing a "Road to Capitalism" segment, denouncing the New Democrats plans to break up the Industrial Directorates that constituted the nation's industrial bulk as well as their plans to allow larger, small independent business access to the materials of the 4 year plans. The other TV had a panel talking about leaked polling numbers-Socialist Unity 46, New Democrats 42, Working Families 4.

George leaned across the table, smiled, and said "Welcome to wherever the hell we're going next."

Mark Warner smiled back.
Interesting, will this continue?
Nah, this was just a sketch I came up with based on two things while I was at the beach. The first is the thought that in some parallel world Glenn Beck's ranting about being on the "Road Back To Capitalism". The other was that I rewatched The West Wing episode "La Palabra", which is my favorite among the Santos campaign episodes. Oh and I've long been a Mark Warner fan.