Saturday, July 3, 2010

Once more into the fiction breach

Ever since I read Fletcher Knebel's Seven Days in May, probably in high school, I've been interested the notion of a military coup. A few weeks ago, I finally watched A Very British Coup, a BBC miniseries from the late 80s about the British upper crust's harassment and overthrow of an openly socialistic prime minister, via Netflix.
General Smedley Butler once claimed that a wealthy cabal approached him about taking over FDR's Cabinet (with FDR as a carefully-watched and regulated figurehead). Butler's word was the only real evidence, but the scheme has gained credibility over the years.
It got me to thinking about how such a thing would take place here. I can't think of any president who so knocked the status quo that he could have really motivated the Powers That Might Be into such brazen and risky a proposition. I very much doubt the means exist today, but I'm sure there are people around D.C., N.Y.C. and military who imagine they could pull it off.
Here's the first installment of my half-assed fantasy of a coup today:

All of the wrath and acrimony of October wasn’t enough to drive the President out of office. In fact, it was probably the 24/7 hysterics of Fox News, massive radio buys and slander filling the Murdoch papers in the U.S. and U.K. that disgusted just enough Americans to give him four more years.
Mark Wood was certain the Tea Party pandering put him into Congress. His opponent, a less-physically-repulsive-but-every-bit-as-odious-as-Karl Rove-mouthbreather named Leonard Denton, was in such a hurry to take his seat that he wrecked what little credibility he had with the general voting public; one TV ad accused Mark of sympathizing with Muslim terrorists and advocating tax hikes, based on his support of criminal trials for 9/11 suspects. There was even a quote, supposedly from one of his Indianapolis Times columns, superimposed over pictures of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
Denton must have assumed no one would actually go back and read the column, or that Wood might remember what he wrote, because the quote was fabricated. When Mark cornered him about it in their one televised debate a week before the election, Denton initially insisted it was accurate, then, in the next sentence, called it a mistake but said it accurately depicted Wood’s attitude. Denton fired his ad guy the next day and refused to pay the rest of his bill, prompting the consultant to call all of the TV newsrooms and claim that Denton wrote the script himself and knew the quote was false. Denton responded the next day with a lawsuit against the consultant and criminal charges against Wood claiming that Mark and/or his campaign staffers were stealing Denton yard signs. One local anchor even starting laughing at Denton's vehemence during a live interview a few nights before the election.
The victory was doubly-sweet, as it was Leonard’s father who had fired Mark from his first newspaper job, at the Martinsville Republican, for filing a story about one of Mr. Denton’s friends, the then Sheriff who had never paid child support to either of the women he impregnated while they were incarcerated at the Morgan County Jail. The notoriety surrounding that incident landed Mark at the Indianapolis Times and, eventually, his own thrice-weekly column and platform to publicly humiliate Denton the Younger.
Mark had tired of the newspaper game. Newsrooms seemed to shrink by the month, as profitable corporations publicly fretted over expenses and privately booked 20-plus percent profit margins every year. Local reporting gave way to poorly researched and executed wire copy based on the false conventional wisdom that tax cuts are always good, unions and public employees steal money, Ronald Reagan was right about everything, and all Americans hate liberals and Democrats. Upper management used to be populated with men (and a few women) who came up in the business, either as editors, salespeople or circulation managers; they had given way to MBAs adept at making spreadsheets read however they liked. Politics, incredibly enough, had become as honest as business as newspapering, even if by default.
Or so it seemed as Mark was boarding a flight to D.C. to shop for an apartment that week before Thanksgiving.

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