[This is fiction; all names have been changed – except Obama’s]
While browsing through my Word documents looking for a particular file, I stumbled onto this one and thought that I’d resurrect it just for kicks. It’s a fictional story that I published on my Townhall blog on July 30, 2008.
It didn’t really happen, though I wish it had.
Reid Enright was a staunch conservative; a grounded kind of guy with no particular axe to grind with Barack Obama. He didn’t plan on voting for him, but he seemed nice enough. Reid had been awarded a contract by the Obama campaign to maintain the teleprompter laptops and the ones used by the speechwriters. It was a pretty easy job and although it didn’t pay much, he got to travel on the campaign’s tab. Beats doing home rescue calls for “Nerds Are Us.”
His main contact was a mid-level speechwriter, a young woman named Shanda Lear. She was cute in a kinda nerdish way herself and Reid thought, hmmmm, maybe one day …
The usual scenario was that Reid would run a set of diagnostics on the two laptops (main and backup) immediately before downloading the speech from a DVD produced by the speechwriters. After the download, Shanda had the responsibility to spot check the speech on both teleprompter laptops and certify that everything was in order. They did that two days before a really major address and one day for more ordinary speeches.
Friday night’s address was a big one; an important policy speech that the campaign thought would lift Obama above the magic 50% mark and keep him there. They were confident of a significant bounce. So far, Reid wasn’t privy to the contents but the buzz was that it would be a bombshell. Florida was important in the electoral tally and McCain had been polling strong there. McCain was inching up on Obama all over the country, Obama needed help.
Reid worked peculiar hours; he was on call at any time, day or night, to recover a lost file or train a new staffer – nothing too difficult.
Shanda called Wednesday evening to arrange for a test download, and they met in the hotel’s small conference room to do the transfer. He usually loaded the “B” unit (the backup) first and they verified that the file was copied ok before loading the main computer. Everything was working fine. They’d do the same thing tomorrow evening with an updated version of the speech. Once checked, both laptops went with Shanda for safekeeping until right before the speech. The campaign was extremely security conscious and knew how much Obama depended on the teleprompter.
On the way back to his room, Reid passed a partially open door and heard part of a heated conversation coming from inside. One voice sounded like Rick Shaw, one of Obama’s top campaign guys, but he couldn’t identify the other. “These hicks are brain dead, don’t worry about it;” that was Rick for sure. Reid stopped – “hicks” and “brain dead,” – curious talk from a campaign staffer. “I don’t give a $hit – he can’t say that,” responded the other. “No one will ever know, we’ve covered all the bases, created documents, put evidence in place, we’re covered – this story will get us the big enchilada.” Again, Reid could recognize that voice but still couldn’t identify the other. The unknown guy said “if anyone finds about this – we’re finished, and so is Barack – we’ll all go to prison.” Whoa … “prison”, Reid heard loud and clear. He thought “Holy Shit, what’s going on here,” and eased over against the wall to hear the conversation better. For several minutes, the two went back and forth, arguing over the details of the plan, the sheer audacity of which ran a chill up Reid’s back. “Someone’s got to know about this,” he knew he had to do something.
All at once, the door shut. Someone must have noticed that it was ajar. Good thing they didn’t check outside first. Reid continued down the hall a few steps and heard the door open behind him. Looking back, he saw Frank Phurter exit the room. He looked nervously at Reid but didn’t know him and moved off in the other direction. Phurter had been the head of the “dirty tricks” unit for Hillary’s campaign and was now employed by Obama. Reid had never met him, but Shanda had pointed him out at a rally once.
Now it all made sense, Obama was worse than an “empty suit”, his shorts were empty too. And the campaign was about to fool the voters into believing that there was something that he’d been hiding. Out of patriotism and duty, Obama had kept it quiet. This would bolster his credentials and give him the shiny brass balls he lacked – holy crap; this was the “bombshell.” Man, when a dirty tricks guy thinks that a plan is too risky, that ought to be a red flag.
Reid was pissed. “Outright lies, fabricating a complete bullshit story to get that s.o.b. elected – what a crock. I can’t let them get away with this. But what can I do? No one will believe me – they’ll just deny, deny, deny.” And then, Reid had a eureka moment, he knew what he must do.
He called Shanda and told her he’d just downloaded a later version of the PromptMe teleprompter software, and needed to update the two computers before Friday’s address. Reluctant to modify software right before such an important speech, Shanda took some convincing. Reid described an important update that fixed a problem with the “roll” of the advancing script whereby it just froze. That did the trick. A dead prompter was a worst case scenario for the campaign. Obama would be a puppet without someone manipulating the strings; a dummy without his ventriloquist. He became an “umm-bot,” prone to unintelligible words liberally interspersed by “umm’s.” If anything went wrong with the teleprompter, they would cancel the address – it was that serious.
Shanda dropped the laptops by Reid’s room saying she’d be back after a meeting, about ten-ish, to pick them up. Reid had roughly three hours to work some magic.
He enabled the Wi-Fi on both prompter pc’s (normally disabled for security reasons) and verified access to each from his personal laptop. He copied the Thursday version of the speech to his laptop. He could now access the final speech from his own computer when the time came. He downloaded a new release of PromptMe, which in fact only had minor fixes, to give him cover for wanting early access to the computers. The stage was set.
This was the first opportunity he’d had to actually read an Obama speech. Normally, when he and Shanda did their thing, he never had much time to absorb the words, he was just interested in making sure that the text was there and available to the display unit; the rest was up to the camera and prompter technicians and His Holiness.
As he read, he could tell that Obama was building up to a big reveal. The first few minutes was the usual fluff: “the wonderful folks in Orlando,” “proud heritage,” “important battleground state,” “how much he loved Floridians,” blah, blah, blah. Same old crap wherever he spoke. Sure they’d change a few words (that must be the “change” Obama talks about) and tweak the boilerplate so the “rubes” would think that it was especially for them. He read on … here it comes …
“My friends, I’m going to tell you a secret. A secret about a defining moment in my life. For reasons of national security, I could not tell this story before. What I’m about to tell you will flesh out Barack Obama so that you will finally see me as I really am. John McCain and the press have savaged me for having no military experience. Well, now you’ll hear the truth.”
“I was an undercover CIA operative for two years and saw armed combat in a small country northwest of New Guinea, where I led rebels in overthrowing a ruthless tyrant. This occurred during those two years when I was supposedly in Hawaii writing my book. I developed the battle plan, executed it, and personally led the rebel troops in attacking an airbase held by the national army. I was wounded in action and received the Department of Defense’s Patriot medal for bravery. Of course, because this was a secret C.I.A. operation, no one would ever know; until now. Recently, the C.I.A. declassified my records, so my story can now be told.”
Reid’s stomach was churning – it was all he could do to keep his lunch down. Reading this propaganda – no, not propaganda, propaganda was benign compared to this vile fabrication, these out-and-out lies.
Earlier, he’d heard details of how evidence was planted into state department files, in D.O.D. files, and even the C.I.A. covert database. All to bolster the resume – the gravitas – of “Empty Shorts,” who was being groomed to be the next president. As Reid went on, he could see that the reveal must’ve taken up half of the speech. They were really banking on this “data dump” of outright crap to boogie Obama right into the White House – and no doubt, it would.
Reid had never known that words could make a person physically ill, but those words did.
Shanda knocked at almost eleven – the meeting lasted longer than expected. The laptops were ready and back in their cases. She took both and left for her room. Now Reid had to figure out how he could manipulate the text to help Barack spill the beans. It was common knowledge within the staff that he’d read whatever was displayed, completely oblivious to what he was saying. He could have read a tribute to Satan himself (George Bush) without a clue to the words he was speaking. He was a polished automaton who simply, flawlessly, verbalized what he read.
It was Friday; it was “show time,” just fifteen minutes before His Holiness took the stage to spread the manure around. Reid was ready, he felt like James Bond about to spring a trap on some eastern bloc despot and save the world.
Reid, feigning an upset stomach, left the arena and returned to his room. He had just enough time to download the finalized speech to his computer and compare it to the older version to flag any last minute changes that might affect his plan. There were very few changes to the areas that he expected to “adjust.” Through the WiFi hookup, Reid’s pc would follow the main computer’s text as it rolled, keeping the two computers synchronized. Reid’s laptop triggered on specific words in the main text and replaced original words with words from Reid’s text – it could be one word or several sentences. This happened in the pre-display queue since he was reading ahead of the actual display. Since he never actually changed any data on the prompter laptop, the speech remained in pristine condition. That left no evidence to explain why Obama got a case of verbal diarrhea. Reid was ready.
Watching a network feed, he could see that the crowd was extremely agitated. Word had gotten around that there would be some major content in this speech – no one knew what, but the press was there in force – perhaps a small leak?
Obama takes the podium and the crowd goes wild, chanting “O Bam Ma, O Bam Ma.” He starts in, twice having to ask the crowd to “simmer down.” The spectacle reminded Reid of an Elvis concert he saw when he was young. Obama went on with the speech until the trigger displayed Reid’s replacement words on Obama’s teleprompter. Dutifully, he read them as written:
“My friends, I’m going to tell you a secret. A secret about a defining moment in my life. I could not tell this story before. What I’m about to tell you will flesh out Barack Obama so that you will finally see me as I really am.
I am a white-hating Muslim transsexual socialist. Allah is great. Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar! And as soon as I’m elected, I’ll give the poor money from the rich, and I’ll be naming Reverends Wright, Jackson, Sharpton and Charlie Rangel, Barbara Lee, William Jefferson, and Keith Ellison to cabinet positions. You honkies have had power for too long …”
That’s about as far as it got, two of his senior staff pulled him away from the mike and off the stage. They made it look like there had been an assassination attempt. Stanley Cupp, one of the campaign’s senior advisors took the mike and explained that Barack had been poisoned, perhaps with LSD, and didn’t know what he was saying.
Reid had to laugh, watching that asshole do his best to spin what had just happened. Good luck. Almost 45,000 fans in the arena had just watched their messiah implode – not to mention several million watching the networks. He was probably toast now, and Reid couldn’t be happier. He was content in knowing that Barack could now return to community organizing or lawyering, or whatever wound his clock, never knowing exactly what happened or why he wouldn’t be president.
This was karma, the forces of the universe had interceded to stop a travesty; the cosmos was in balance again.