(This is a story I wrote which has been submitted to NPR for a contest. The winning story will be read on the air nationwide. The basic premise was to write about a president, real or fictional, in no more than 600 words.)                      

President Grumbine brooded contemplatively in the Oval Office for a time after the official schedule had ended for the day. “Like being here helps me” went through the mind of the most powerful person in the world. “Let me get to my private quarters where I’ll relax with a cold beer and ponder my choices.”

Ahhh, being in the private residence was soothing in a way. Close enough to all the Presidential power amenities to act immediately in any national emergency, it still served as a retreat from the bustle of the West Wing where there was never any true privacy.

And this President needed the occasional temporary escape. Under attack almost from the very minute after the Oath of Office was administered, the President had both withered under, and withstood firmly, the ad hominem slurs that were far removed from what the reality of being the nation’s CEO entailed. The evidence of the withering had been confined to this private space with the public facade ever assured and confident.

Being different, despite Grumbine’s record and experience, could bring out the worst in people.

Too frequently the real issues, the ones that affected Americans’ lives, were ignored in preference to raising non-issues as criticisms, merely to deflect from the administration’s accomplishments.

True, the list of successes was not long, but they were almost all of major significance. The crowning glory was the return to a balanced budget, last seen in the waning days of the second Clinton administration.

Oddly enough that balanced budget was primarily enabled by the success of health care reform, the very same Affordable Care Act passed under Obama. The success of that law, after full implementation, helped his successor, President Dabney Norville, get a public option added that was wildly popular.

Together these actions brought health care costs down tremendously, which had been a major drain on federal budgets.

Alas, any thoughts Norville had of running for re-election ended when he announced his pending Rose Garden wedding to his Chief of Staff, Roderick Williams. The backlash from the right was so severe…death threats were made to Roderick… that he declined to run.

Grumbine had been Norville’s Vice President and could run on that administration’s record which was even seen favorably by the social conservatives since so many of them had taken advantage of the public option.

But now, in the White House, Grumbine faced similar narrow-minded battles despite the other good things happening.

There were other notches on the presidential gunbelt and some failures that all have experienced. But the only true scandal was the sex club maintained by the Ambassador to Estonia.

Now President Grumbine sipped a Yuengling Black & Tan and sat down in the comfy desk chair and opened the folder marked “For your eyes only”

Going back and forth between the two alternatives the President weighed American vs foreign. What other factors mattered? Well, a strong front must be presented. The president had to use all available ammunition to make the case. This was important. Distraction could be destructive.

Finally the choice became clear. The Donna Karan ensemble would be perfect for the State of the Union Address, far more fitting than the Givenchy. Maybe the latter could be saved for the next inauguration? This speech was important as it outlined, with a number of specifics, the direction the nation would be taking, especially with a second term in the offing.

Being the first woman President forced these decisions on her, Carolyn Grumbine mused. She knew if she did this right Putin  would be a snap to handle.

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  • little_minx  On September 24, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Author! Author!

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