A Continuation of Book I…
Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Two or Two-Thirtyish, appeared, Sanford rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his comely feet, girded his flag pin about his shoulder, and left his room looking like an immortal god. He at once sent the criers round to call the people in assembly, so they called them and the people gathered thereon; then, when they were got together, he went to the place of assembly comb in hand- not alone, for his two aides went with him, for his wife would not go for fear of looking like Silda Spitzer or Dina McGreevey. Minerva endowed Sanford with a presence of such divine comeliness that all marvelled at him as he went by, and when he took his place at the podium, even the oldest councillors made way for him.
Sanford rose at once, for he was bursting with what he had to say. He stood in the middle of the assembly and the good herald Pisenor brought him the microphone. Then, beginning in media res, “Sir,” said he, “it is I, as you will shortly learn, who have convened you, for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I had not got wind of any trip to Appalachia about which I would warn you, but I do love hiking there. I used to organize hiking trips, actually, when I was in high school. I would get a soccer coach or a football coach to act as chaperone, and then I’d get folks to pay me 60 bucks each, or whatever it was, to take the trip, and then off we’d go and have these great adventures on the Appalachian Trail…”
Here Sanford began to ramble. Finally, he returned to the matter at hand. “But I guess where I’m trying to go with this is that there are moral absolutes and that the law of the gods indeed is there to protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach that, even if you tie yourself to the mast and plug your security detail’s ears with wax so you can hear the sirens’ song. Killing the sun’s oxen is a consequence. This press conference is a consequence.
“My grieveance is purely personal, and turns on two great misfortunes which have fallen upon my house. The first apology is to my excellent wife, who was chief among all you here present in being dicked around with by me. She was made to tell a ridiculous story about my going ‘to be alone,’ ‘to write,’ ‘to be away from my boys’ on Fathers’ Day.
“I would also apologize to my staff, because as much as I did talk about going to Argos, Rome, or the Appalachian Trail — those were each one of the original scenarios that I’d thrown out to Mary Neil, that isn’t what — where I ended up. And so I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going, which means that I had then, in turn, given as much as they relied on that fanciful song of the bards, let down people that I represent across the Peloponnese. And so I want to apologize to my staff and I want to apologize to anyone who took in a poor wandering stranger who was secretly a war machine, anybody who lives in Carolina, for the way that I let them down.
“But the last is much more serious, and ere long will be the utter ruin of my career. The press, all the chief men among them, who thought I might work in the White House someday, are pestering my chief of staff to verify that I am a real, live, Republican. They are afraid to go to Mitt Romney, asking him to choose the one he likes best, and to provide interviews to them, but day by day they keep hanging about my office, sacrificing our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their banquets, never giving so much as a thought that someone may desperately need a break from the bubble wherein every word, every moment is recorded — just to completely break out of it, and go off and have adventures, just fly different places around the world; get myself a job; carry a hundred dollars emergency money, and either find a job there with the locals and come back, or come on home. This is not justifying, because, again, what I did was wrong, period, end of story. But still… I mean, hey. It’s a bubble.
“No national political career can stand such recklessness; we Republicans have now no Reagan to ward off harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own against it all. I shall never all my days be as good a man as he was, still I would indeed defend myself if I had power to do so, for I cannot stand such treatment any longer; my house is being disgraced and ruined. Have respect, therefore, to your own consciences and to public opinion. Fear, too, the wrath of heaven, lest the gods should be displeased and turn upon you. I pray you by Jove and Themis, who is the beginning and the end of councils, [do not] hold back, my friends, and leave me singlehanded- unless it be that my brave father George W. Bush did some wrong to the country which you would now avenge on me, by aiding and abetting these rumors, which are all true. Moreover, if I am to be eaten out of house and home at all, I had rather go ahead and caress some erotic curve of the hips in Argentina, for I could then take action to some purpose, and serve Meet the Press with notices that I’ve split the country to get my Johnson wet, whereas now I have no remedy.
“And so I’ve been back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And the one thing that you really find is that you absolutely want resolution.
“And so oddly enough, I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina, so I could repeat it when I came back here in saying, you know, while indeed from a heart level, there was something real, there in Argentina with Calypso, it was a place based on the relationship I had as host of the feasts to the people of Carolina, based on my sons, based on my wife, based on where I was in my life’s journey, based on where she was as measured by the fates, a place I couldn’t go and she couldn’t go.
“And that is, I suspect, a continual process all through life, of getting one’s heart right in life. And so I would never stand before you as one who just says, by Zeus, I’m completely right with regard to my heart on all things.”
“But what I would say is, I’m committed to trying to get my heart right. Because the one thing that — (and here the goddess made his voice inaudible) — and all others have told me is that the odyssey that we’re all on in life is with regard to heart, not what I want or what you want but, in other words, indeed this larger notion of truly trying to put other people first.”
With this Sanford dashed his staff to the ground and burst into tears. Every one was very sorry for him, but they all sat still and no one ventured to make him an angry answer, save only Antinous, who spoke thus:
“Sanford, insolent braggart that you are, how dare you try to throw the blame upon us members of the press? It is the Republicans’ fault not ours, for they are very artful dudes. These eight years past, and close on twelve, they have been driving us out of our minds, by encouraging each one of us, and sending him messages without meaning one word of what she says. And then there was that other trick they played us. They set up a great tambour frame in the press room, and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework, with a picture of WMDs in Iraq. ‘Sweet hearts,’ said Rove, Cheney, and Bush, ‘Al-Qaeda is indeed dead, or at least sidelined; but still do not press me to marry again immediately, wait- for I would not have skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have completed an invasion of Saddam’s country, to be in readiness against the time when he might maybe attack us, or maybe someone else. He is very rich with chemical and even nuclear weapons, and the soccer moms of the nation will talk if he is laid out without a pall.’
“This was what they said, and we assented; whereon we could see them working on their great web of intelligence all day long, but at night they would unpick the stitches again, saying they were fooled by the CIA. They fooled us in this way for three years and we never found them out, but as time wore on and she was now in her fourth year, one of their aides who knew what they were doing told us, and we caught them in the act of trying to cover up their work with tortured confessions, so they had to get us to think that torture was actually okay, whether it really was torture or no.
“And when you’re not lying to us about war, you’re picking up undercover officers in airport bathrooms, frequenting prostitutes, having affairs with your staffers’ wives, or hitting on the underage interns. What are you guys, Democrats?
“The press, therefore, makes you this answer, that both you and the Republicans may understand-‘Quit dicking around with us, and we might not think that everything you tell us is a fucking lie’; for I do not know what will happen if you go on plaguing us much longer with the airs you gives yourself on the score of the accomplishments you made, and how you kept the country safe because Cheney is so clever. We never yet heard of such a Republican; we know all about Gonzales, Brownie, Miers, and the famous hacks of old, but they were nothing to Sarah Palin, any one of them. It was not fair of Palin to treat us in that way, making us think she was actually a serious national candidate; and as long as the Republicans continue in the mind with which heaven has now apparently endowed them, so long shall we go on calling you on your obvious bullshit; and I do not see why you should change, for you still get all the honour and glory, and it is we who pay for it, not them. Understand, then, that we will not go back to our lands in New York or Washington, neither here nor elsewhere, till you, your wife, your lover, your sons, your staffers, and everyone who knew anything about this has made their choice and given an exclusive interview and (we can hope) incriminating photos and juicy anecdotes to some one or other of us.”
To be Continued…