The Long Shot: A Political Farce
The Long Shot (Here) is a satire of presidential politics set in the year 2035. The story is narrated by a self-denigrating, hard-drinking, womanizing, opportunist — Nicholas Belladona — who latches on to a naive, self-deluding, chronic liar— Jeremy DoLittle — who has dreams of becoming President of the United States.
After a stint in the army where Jeremy meets Nick, Jeremy ends up working for a local newspaper in New Jersey and gains national recognition after he sets up a network of homely secretaries who give him an inside line on presidential trivia.
Jeremy knew everything. He knew what the President swallowed, when he swallowed it and how often he chewed. He knew the President’s favorite foods, had categorized them by size, color, food group and frequency of use and could describe, blind-folded and with cotton in his ears, the time of the day and setting when another reporter would name the food the President was eating. He knew the President’s favorite ice cream flavor, his favorite color, his favorite flower, his favorite time of the day and his favorite curse word, “gosh darn.”
The nation is stunned when Jeremy reveals — the day before a nation-wide presidential TV address on the importance of morality in higher office — that the president would be wearing “a solid blue tie.”
In the span of three weeks following Jeremy’s “Blue Tie Story,” circulation at the North Benware Star Ledger doubled. His Washington trivia started taking over a larger and larger portion of the front page. The paper ran a full story on the President’s smile, describing in detail the shape of his smiling mouth, analyzing its frequency of occurrence, comparing it to past Presidential smiles in the White House, analyzing its history over the course of the President’s life, and revealing for the first time that the President had false teeth. This shocked, fascinated and outraged readers who sent many letters of indignation to the editor, complaining that the story was lacking in sufficient detail. They wanted to know if all his teeth were false or just the molars and incisors. They wanted to know what his false teeth were made of, how often he had them cleaned, who did the cleaning. They wanted to know if there was any other part that was false or for that matter if there was any part that was real.
With presidential ambitions and a national following, Jeremy DoLittle attracts the attention of some the nation’s most powerful political handlers who have a vested interest in seeing that the incumbent is re-elected. They decide they can use Jeremy as a stalking horse to take away votes from the challenger. Jeremy is to take a fall but doesn’t know. His friend Nick has set up an arrangement with wavy-haired Bob, for which he is handsomely rewarded.
C.R.A.P. (The Committee to Resurrect the American Presidency) supplies candidate DoLittle — who will be running on the P.I.S.S. (Party to Insure Safety and Security) ticket — with $30,000,000 in funding, a $300,000 expense account, and a magnificent apartment in a glass slab building overlooking 57th street.
As the campaign begins in earnest Jeremy, Jeremy’s assistant Meghan and Nick get together for their first strategy session. We learn that,
The Demicans, in a shrewd strategic move, decided to go for the “Gray Vote,” and, in an unusual show of unity, threw all their support behind an 85-year-old retired schoolteacher by the name of Milton Kindly. The ploy worked. Early poles showed that 95% of the near dead supported “Milt” for President.
“Milt,” who had considerable short-term memory loss, spoke in a stutter about vague and unrepeatable plans he had for making America a “decent country to die in.” He uttered simple homilies in a way that was reassuring and comforting, and reminisced about his first job as a soda jerk at the age of sixteen, and how he used the money he earned to help his father go into business as zipper salesman, frequently losing track of his subject matter mid-sentence. Jeremy recognized that “Milt” wouldn’t be an easy target.
It is at this point that we meet Frank Treason. The rest is excerpt.
At about 11:00 AM, Meghan ushered in a thin, tall man, with a little boy’s face and a shock of black hair across his forehead, dressed in a dark blue, pinstriped suit in the latest Italianate style, sporting red suspenders.
“This is Frank Treason,” said Meghan.
Frank — who had the smell of fresh dog droppings about him — was a corporate attorney from “Steel Balls of America,” a manufacturer of lead weights for fishing tackle, with a background in public relations who was on loan, on exclusive assignment to Jeremy’s campaign.
Sitting himself down, he rested his out-stretched arms across the edge of the couch in a gesture of arrogance and possession. Leaning forward, he picked a few peanuts out of the small bowl on the coffee table.
“So you’re Jeremy DoLittle,” he said, looking around the room as he spoke. “Nice digs.” Then he slumped down in his seat and extended his long frame, resting his feet on the coffee table and his hands behind his head.
“This is a one issue campaign, Jerry. Safety and security,” he said, sitting back up. “That’s all this is about. Your mascot is a pit bull terrier named Stanley. You and Stanley will be seen together all the time, on posters, on TV. There will be footage of you walking Stanley down the street at night and of his scaring off would-be attackers and insurance salesmen.”
Treason leaned forward and took a few more peanuts.
“You are tough, Jerry, damned tough and that’s going to come through. You will be seen lifting weights, practicing Karate and dragging homeless men out of doorways.”
He leaned back, again, munching on the peanuts.
“You don’t know anything about foreign policy, Jerry. You don’t know anything about taxes, education, conservation. You are an expert on door locks of every kind, prisons, hidden camera security, police tactics, riot control, purse snatching and petty theft. Your running mate is a nice guy. I think you’ll like him. Lyndon Boyle. He’s a retired detective.
“We get going seriously on Monday. You’ll have a wardrobe advisor, a hair stylist. We’ll get you into the studio on Tuesday, which is where you’ll spend the rest of the week. In two weeks we’ll have the posters and buttons rolling, and more film footage than we know what to do with. On Thursday, July 4, you are going to have your first news conference, announcing your candidacy for President as a third party candidate on the P.I.S.S. ticket. I’ll be writing the speeches. You’ll be mouthing them.”
With that Treason handed Meghan a piece of paper with Lyndon Boyle’s name and number, helped himself to a beer from the refrigerator and was gone.
The three of us sat in silence. At that moment we all knew that we were headed down a road we shouldn’t be headed down. But there was no turning back.
The July 4 news conference is held as planned with the prison on Riker’s Island as a backdrop.
“On the way over here,” began Jeremy before a bank of cameras and microphones, in a casual, folksy way, “I saw a young black man push an old white lady out of the way as she was getting on the subway. That should not be allowed to happen in this free, peace-loving country of ours. That is why we have buildings like this he said,” pointing behind him, “and that is where men like that belong.
“Old white ladies should be free to roam this land at will,” he continued, “frustrating the heck out of us as they fumble through their change purse at the check out counter. That is what democracy is all about.
“I know what some of you are thinking, ‘Oh, here is another safety and security act.’ Well this is not just another ‘safety and security act,’” he said, doing a rapid turning Karate kick and knocking the microphone out of the hand of one of the reporters. “This is safety and security that means business,” he said, as the cameras caught a shot of Stanley with one of the reporter’s legs clamped in his jaw.
Jeremy paused to consult his notes.
“I have been listening to Mr. Kindly’s speeches. I’ve heard what he has to say about dentures and prostheses, but what about safety and security, Mr. Kindly, what about safety and security?”
Here Jeremy paused for effect.
“My friends,” he said, casting his eyes across the group of reporters hanging on his every word, “it is time for a change. It is time for action. We’re tired of being mugged, raped and robbed and I have developed a four point program to set things in the right direction.”
Jeremy took a few moments to find the document in question, which he then read from at a slow, and deliberate pace, accenting each of the four points with an index finger into the air.
“1. Buy the best locks money can buy.
2. Never park your car on the street.
3. Never stay out after 9:00 PM.”
4. Look both ways before crossing.”
This caused quite a stir. Several reporters jumped up from their seats, shouting questions.
“Which locks are the best?” asked one nervous young woman. “I never know which to buy.”
“What about garages? We’re running out of space. What are you going to do about that?” asked another reporter in an angry tone.
Ignoring the questions, Jeremy ceremoniously closed the folio of papers he had been working from and then smiled.
“Thank you,” he said, looking into the camera for a long, meaningful moment before it switched to the TV reporter who summed up what had just happened and then broke for a laxative commercial.
Frank Treason who had been intently watching Jeremy’s performance broke into a broad grin.
“Nice work,” he said.
Arthur D. Robbins is an author and essayist. His essays have appeared on “The Intrepid Report,” “Information Clearing House,” “Global Research,” “Dissident Voice,” and “Dandelion Salad.” His book about democracy, “Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained: The True Meaning of Democracy” has been hailed by Ralph Nader as, “An eye-opening, earth-shaking book … a fresh, torrential shower of revealing insights and vibrant lessons… “ To learn more visit, acropolis-newyork.com