Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Candidate

“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this,” said Jan Stewart, veteran reporter for CNB News, Bismarck, North Dakota. She and cameraman Michael Cardenas were in the CNB News van, heading for The Radisson, downtown.

“And considering how much he hates the media, it’s hard to believe he’s even agreed to talk to us at all,” said Michael.

Jan and Mike, as they were known in Bismarck, were respected reporters known for tackling the tough assignments, the tough interviews, and always coming back with fair and impartial stories.

They had twice been nominated for a Pulitzer.

“I’m going to have to watch my Ps & Qs because you know how much I loathe him,” Jan said.

“You’ll do fine,” said Mike. “You’re the most professional reporter I know.”

The van pulled into The Radisson parking lot, and they parked up close to the front door.

“I still can’t believe he had the audacity to make that accusation, get his followers all riled up, and then just stand by and watch them attack that poor woman,” said Jan. “What kind of a person would do that?”

Mike opened up the van’s side door and grabbed his camera bag and tripod.

“He’s a psychopath,” he said. “A narcissistic, homophobic, bigoted, misogynist, racist, power-hungry psychopath, but…”

“But I’m just going to smile and do my job,” said Jan.

“Yes, you are.”

Jan closed the door, checked to make sure she had her notes and microphone, then the two headed across the parking lot.

Before they went through the automatic front doors, Jan stopped and asked, “If we were interviewing Hitler, and we knew what he was going to end up doing, would you shoot him? Kill him?”

“Listen,” said Mike. “You’ve got to get that out of your mind. He’s a presidential candidate.”

“So what?” said Jan. “He’s crazy, and at times I don't even think he's human."

The two went through the doors and stood in the lobby.

“I hate this,” Jan whispered.

“Me, too,” Mike replied.

Jan and Mike quickly found the Blue Bonnet Room. It was the only conference room guarded by two burley security guards who looked like members of The Hells Angels.

“I’m Jan and this is Mike, and we’re here for the 10 o’clock interview,” Jan said to the two men. The reporters held out their press IDs.

The two guards just stood there for a moment, arms crossed. Jan was beginning to think maybe they hadn’t understood when the more ugly one of the two pulled out a “wand” and motioned for the reporters to raise their arms.

The guard checked Mike first, and then took his time wanding Jan. He smelled like sweat and a garlic sandwich. The other guard went through the reporters’ bags, and finding nothing dangerous, zipped everything back up.

The ugly guard opened the door to the Blue Bonnet Room, and Jan and Mike went inside.

The room was windowless and completely empty except for a pair of leather wing-backed chairs. Jan and Mike began the process of setting up their lights, the tripod and camera, something they had done a thousand times and could probably do blindfolded.

And then they waited.

“Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it,” Jan mumbled. “And what’s bad is that there are millions of people who buy into that idea without giving it much thought. Like, this is really going to make us safer.”

“Well, you know, he’s just trying to keep out us rapists,” Mike chided.

“Oh, don’t even start,” she fired back. “It’s like, just because he’s a billionaire – or at least says he is – and that he’s been on TV, they just follow him blindly, like he’s the universe's answer to humanity, or something.”

“And not to mention….” Mike began, but stopped when the doors to the room opened. Two men in matching black suits, obviously secret service, scanned the room, then stepped aside as the candidate walked through the doors.

“Well, here we go,” Rod whispered. “Good luck.”

JAN STEWART: Good morning sir, and thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview.

CANDIDATE (CDT): My pleasure. It’s not a bad hotel, but I bet they paid too much for the renovation. But it will do.

STEWART: Yes. Your campaign manager said we had about 30 minutes?

CDT: Right, but that’s flexible.

STEWART: Oh, ok. Good. I know you have a rally this evening, so I’d like to begin by asking about your unbelievable campaign. It’s hard to believe how far you’ve come, considering never having held an elected office or participated much in politics, as far as we can tell. In fact, the electorate knows very little about you at all, or where you came from. So tell us what drives you, and to what do you credit your success?

CDT: That’s a very good question. I’m where I am today because I’m the right person for the right time. I’m right for humanity. There’s been too much ‘wrongness’ in society and I blame that on the current administration. They’re wrong about everything. Wrong about …

STEWART: Can you be specific about that?

CDT: Yes, they’re wrong about the economy and trade. Wrong about where our enemies are. Not only that, they are the worst dealmakers of all time. It’s so sad.

STEWART: And because you come from a different world, the world of business, you can make better deals.

CDT: I always make the best deals. I always win. And that’s what…

STEWART: But a country isn’t a business.

CDT: -- drives me; the desire to fix it all before this world collapses and is dragged down into a third-class blackhole, so to speak. No one else sees this, but I do. And I alone know how to fix it.

STEWART: Ok, then, how specifically do you plan to fix it?

CDT: To begin with, we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to acknowledge that there are a lot of crazy people out there who are taking advantage of the system, making other people like you pay for it, and that it’s ruining our economy. And then people from other places come here – we don’t even know who they are or what their intentions are – but they’re coming here taking our jobs and we don’t even know how big of a mess that is.

When I’m president, we’re going to stop all that. We’re going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, and we’re going to vet these other people the right way. I mean, really vet them. If they come from a hostile place, they’re going to be booted right back to where they came from. And we’re going to keep a watch on everyone, especially those who look like they don’t belong.

STEWART: So what you’re talking about is profiling people. But that means --

CDT: You can call it profiling – I don’t call it profiling – I call it watching out for trouble; getting rid of the troublemakers. Empowering regular citizens like yourself to call out people who just don't look right, and take care of them. Because they're everywhere. And if that means…

STEWART: But do the ends really justify the means?


CDT: Listen, people tell me all the time that they’re scared. I’m here to tell them when I’m president, they won’t need to be scared anymore. I am the messenger, I am the light, and I bring hope.

STEWART: So are you advocating that we put people who, in your words, just don’t look right, in camps? Isolate them, like we did to the Japanese during World War II?

CDT: Listen, Japan has a strong economy today. I like Japan. I have a lot of Japanese friends. I understand the Japanese, and I don’t think a few years in a safe environment – it was for their safety. You were fighting against their families. And the real Americans saw them walking around – your enemy, in your own country – and I don’t think it did them much harm. Just think how much greater they would've become if we'd left them in those camps a bit longer. A year or two longer, maybe.

STEWART: But they WERE real Americans, and just because they ‘didn’t look right,’ or because they’re Japanese or Muslims or Mexicans…

CDT: Look, it’s a different world out there today, and I don’t hear anybody disagreeing with me. Tens of millions of people come to my rallies and you know what I hear? Build the wall; stop the radicals; don't trust your neighbors; get rid of the aliens and other weirdoes; throw them all in jail -- especially, her.

STEWART: Do you really think she belongs in jail?

CDT: Are you kidding me? She’s the most corrupt, egotistical, lying bigoted politician in history. Worse than Nixon. I doubt she's even human. Hell, yes she belongs in jail, as well as every nutjob who thinks like her. Hey Charlie. Go find me some tomato juice. And if this place only has that crappy stuff, just get me some bottled water.


CDT: No, that’s all. She’s just the sequel of what we already have. And the people know this. And that’s why they’re going to vote for me in massive numbers. Numbers you’ve never seen before. And we're going to fix this place. It’s going to be a bloodbath.

STEWART: Still on the topic of Japan, you said in yesterday’s rally that Japan should be allowed to produce nuclear weapons. Is there –

(Edmonds hands CDT a glass of tomato juice.)

CDT: Thank you. I drink tomato juice every day. Good for the body, and the brain. Too many people drink colas. We have the fattest people on the planet. By tons. That’s why we’re putting together a mandatory exercise period. Keep the fittest, and get rid of the rest. Just look at the Asians. They’re skinny, and smart. I have a lot of Asian friends. They do business with me. Skinny and smart.

STEWART: And about Japan --

CDT: Oh, sure. Let them have some nukes. Why should we have them and they not? Why should we pay for their security when they have such a great economy? They’re smart. They know how to use them wisely.

STEWART: Excuse me. Use them?

CDT: I’ve heard a lot of people say, and I’ve read a lot, that nuclear weapons used properly, strategically used, could quickly solve most of the world’s problems. Sure, a lot of people would die, but only the surplus. Think back to Hiroshima. We saved a lot of American lives. But we’ll just have to see.

STEWART: But Japan has a constitution that --

CDT: Jan, we’ll just have to see.

STEWART: But to set off --

CDT: Sure, a bit of short-term headaches, but in the long run, it's good for the human race, right?

STEWART: But the danger would be just --

CDT: Jan, we’re not going to reinvent the wheel here, so just move on.

STEWART: I can not sit here anymore and listen to --

CDT: Think about it Jan. Do you really think I want Japan to use nuclear weapons against China? Or Korea? I was just being sarcastic. You people are in such a hurry to make something out of nothing – and I mean you in the media have been so dishonest. Maybe not you. You seem nice. Maybe you can be on my cabinet when I win. But overall, it’s disgusting. You people just can’t figure me out, and that’s all right by me.

STEWART: Wait. You just --

CDT: Not that sending a couple of nukes China’s way would be a bad thing. Might straighten them up, they’re so crooked. I do a lot of business with them, build a lot of buildings, but I don’t really trust them. They're overcrowded with people. Using up a lot of our resources.  But this administration just lets them do whatever they want to do – their trade, their cheap products. And my opponent doesn’t have a clue about how to deal with them. 

(Edmonds takes CDT’s empty juice glass.)

CDT: Thanks, Charlie. She’s a peach. I probably wouldn’t get through the day without her and people like her, who advise me, who believe in what we’re doing, which is to take this country, this world, back to the drawing board so we can make it better.

STEWART: You haven’t said much about your advisors. Running a country is a big responsibility. It’s not like running a business. Who do you go to for advice?

CDT: Well, I read a lot. I think a lot. I use my own brain. I trust my instincts, my guts, and I’m always right. Sure, I have people who talk to me, but in the end, if you can’t trust yourself, you really shouldn’t be putting yourself on the line.

STEWART: Can you name a few of your advisors?

CDT: Can I? Sure. But will I? No. If the people know who I talk to, then that means foreign governments know, too. It’s like poker. You got to keep your cards close to your chest. I have some great cards. The greatest. But I’m not stupid enough to show my hand to you. Guessing is good, especially for all those countries that want to do us harm, that want to cheat us; who invade our country with their soldiers who hide among refugees, or people who say they’re refugees, just to destroy our system from the inside. And we let them. They just walk on in while our president looks the other way. Pats them on the back. Probably even sets them up with free health care and pizza. Our own citizens are going without but --

EDMONDS: Sir, it’s time to move on to your next appointment.

CDT: Really? So soon? But I’m having fun here. Let them know we’ll be a few minutes late.

EDMONDS: Yes sir.

STEWART: But you don’t actually think that our president is complicit with letting terrorists into our country?

CDT: Well, all I know is what I read on the Internet, and what I see in the very dishonest media. There’s something going on. I wish there wasn’t, but there is. You people just look around it, trying to dig up the worst about my very successful campaign, and you can’t even see the dog that’s pooping on your shoes. When I’m president, I’ll take care of all that, too. Believe me.

STEWART: Take care of it how?

CDT: That’s for me to know. But I can say when I’m done, we’ll be winners again. We’ll win and this world will only be filled with the best. Do you think my opponent knows how to win? She just knows how to whine, and lie. She is so crooked. Unhinged. And I’ve heard people say her health can’t take being president. And they say she’s mentally unstable. I’m not saying that, but that’s what I’ve heard.

STEWART: And you believe –

CDT: Listen, I know my campaign hasn’t been the norm. No advertising. No town hall meetings. Some people, just a few, disloyal people saying we haven’t got a chance, but have you been to one of my rallies? Thousands and thousands come out to see me, and they’re very excited.

STEWART: Yes, they are; almost fanatical. But do you think that will translate –

CDT: Wonderful support. Wonderful people. They want to be winners. Most haven’t won in a long time, or ever, but they believe in me. They know something’s wrong. That everything is rigged against them. And they know I’m the only one who can fix it.

STEWART: Rigged? As in how?

CDT: Do you want me to let you in on the secret to my success?

STEWART: Um, sure.

CDT: Off the record, of course.


CDT: Off the record, or I don’t tell.

STEWART: Mike, turn off the camera.

CARDENAS: Ok. It’s off now.

(CDT leans in closer to Stewart.)

CDT: It’s all in my right hand.

STEWART: What’s in your right hand?

CDT: The power.

STEWART: Excuse me?

CDT: I discovered this trick a long time ago, when I was a teenager, and it’s made me who I am today. Just watch my hand. When I point my index finger up, pull my other fingers down and stick my thumb out like this – like I’m making a gun – it catches your attention. Has it caught your attention?

STEWART: Yes, I guess, but --

CDT: This hand has gotten me through school, helped me not to get drafted; it’s made investors give me millions for some of my stupidest ideas. It can turn best friends into rivals, and I just step in and take over.

STEWART: Ok, but I don’t –

CDT: Of course, I’ve found out it doesn’t work through television. That’s why I have so many rallies. I’ve got to be ‘with’ the people. At just the right moment, I put up my hand like this, and like magic, everybody’s focused on my hand. They think they hear what I’m saying, but they’re really just looking at my hand. I can wave it all around, and the people follow it like little puppy dogs. Are you following it?

STEWART: Um, yes, I guess.

CDT: How about you.

CARDENAS: Sure. I mean, yes, of course.

CDT: I can say anything, like my opponent is the devil; the president is an illegal alien; his wife is an ugly whore; the person sitting next to you is a terrorist. You'll soak it all in, just by watching the hand.

STEWART/CARDENAS: Watching the hand.

CDT: Now, just between you and me, all those rally people are idiots. Not very educated, low IQ, but I don’t tell them that. They are the ones who will help me usher in a new world order. The strong will survive, the weak, not so much. I'll tell them to believe in me, and they will; to not trust Muslims, and they won't; to throw boiling water on their enemies, especially the gays, and they'll do it. And you know what? Right after I open up my hand like this --

(CDT’s hand is now making an “OK” sign, thumb and forefinger touching, his other fingers high in the air.)

CDT: They'll forget all about my hand, and start making the changes that this little rock needs. And when this world is on the verge of devastation, my people will walk right in and take over with nary a hassle to speak of. 

(Jan and Mike blinked.)

CDT: Sounds good, doesn't it?

STEWART: Wow. Yes. Fantastic!

CDT: We’re going to be winners, aren’t we?

STEWART/CARDENAS: It’s time we started winning again.

CDT: And who’s going to build that wall?

STEWART/CARDENAS: Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!

The candidate got out of his seat and reached out to shake Jan’s hand.

“This has been a great interview,” he said. “I wish you the best of luck with your story.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Jan. “And the best of luck to you.”

The candidate slapped Mike on the back and said, "Delete that tape, like a good little Mexican, ok?" then he walked out of the Blue Bonnet room, followed by the secret service.

Jan and Mike stood there for a moment, just looking at each other.

“That had to be the best interview we’ve ever done,” Jan said, practically giggling.

"Are you kidding me?" said Mike. "You sound like one of those delusional fanatics. Besides, I deleted the file."

“You did what?!" screamed Jan. "Why you little wetback. I can't believe you're so stupid."

“What did you say?” asked Mike as he picked up a chair.

“You heard me, amigo," said Jan, holding her microphone like a hammer.

The two biker security guards heard the approaching thunderstorm, and quietly closed the door.

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