A King Brothers Tale, by Rich Paschall
It was a beautiful late summer day in the mountain resort town. It was a high sky, whatever that means, deep blue with no clouds to be seen. It was warm and the breeze was light. The town was not crowded with tourists in this off-season, although many wealthy people had just arrived. A few pesky reporters were buzzing around as well.
A so-called secret meeting of the Brothers of Freedom had been called. The group’s members were composed of a series of conservative “Political Action Committees.” The annual meeting was chaired by the King Brothers and their committee played host. The topic was their common political interests in the presidential election year, but presidential politics would play only a small role in the meetings ahead.
While most of the billionaires had slipped quietly into town, including the King Brothers, a few were followed by reporters who smelled a story in the making. This intrusion of the press was a great annoyance to the Derrick and Chauncey King, and they planned to keep the press away from their important meetings.
The Kings not only reserved an entire exclusive resort for their meetings, they actually bought the place. This assured they could control every aspect of the three-day conference and social events. The men were a bit dismayed to find that their meetings in the capital went unnoticed, but now many miles away the press was at hand. They blamed this on a few careless members.
When the meetings opened the first day, the Kings acknowledged a failure to deliver in the presidential race. Chauncey looked his most disappointed as Derrick addressed a large gathering of the top one per cent of the country. “While we were all prepared for continued success after our brilliant victories in the off-year election, we were saddened by the poor performance of the team in the presidential primaries. This has forced us to dismiss key members of the team and refocus our efforts elsewhere.” In other words, campaign strategist and architect of the off-year victories, Cal Rhodes, was “thrown under the bus” along with other staffers. The Kings do not tolerate failure.
Following the opening address, there were “break-out sessions” for the members to attend. The topics involved a variety of issues important to the billionaires at hand, banking regulations, oil exploration, foreign trade, pharmaceutical regulations, insurance laws. Yes, the main reason of the gathering was to decide what candidates to support. It was also important to see which of their issues a candidate would support in return. This was the essence of the “quid pro quo” of political support.
Each day of the event brought important discussion on the candidates, and each evening brought lavish dinners. Since the participants each paid a hefty fee to attend, they of course expected the finest food and wine in return. On the final night of the conference, Chauncey had the entire group served the ridiculously expense Pierre Jouet wine from France. Most found it quite delightful. A few found it distasteful and ordered beer instead. Those people were looked down upon by the Kings who would make a point not to invite them to future social events.
The conference seemed to end on a high note. While they would not spend any of the hundred of millions at the disposal of the various groups on a presidential candidate, they did have a plan for the election year. They all seemed satisfied they were taking the only possible course of action.
The King Brothers stayed for one day past the conference conclusion, as did some of their most important allies. The brothers marveled at the fresh and invigorating air of the outdoors and reveled in the mountain scenery. This caused Derrick to remark on the final day, “I do not see what all those climate people are whining about. Who could ask for a better environment than this?” It did indeed seem like the air and the countryside were pristine, at least to these guys.
On the evening of the last day, as Derrick stared at the mountains from their balcony, Chauncey pointed out with a bit of a giddy tone, “There are still a few bottles of Pierre Jouet we should drink with our operatives.” At that, the boys went to a downstairs meeting room where a handful of men were waiting.
The leader of the group had conducted many successful campaigns simultaneously for the opposing party, but had switched sides to work for the Kings. As Chauncey succinctly put it, “Everyone has a price.”
“The plan is simple”, Chauncey began. “Forget about the renegade who’s running for president. Focus on congressional races. We’ve got to win as many races as possible. We have to strengthen our hold on Congress. It’s critical we have enough votes in both houses to stop POTUS, no matter who wins.” They all nodded agreement. The meeting lasted well into the night. Which races were up for grabs. Which were a certainty. They examined the polls to see who could be pulled forward. Who should be brought down.
“Money is no obstacle,” the Kings asserted, “The Brothers of Freedom will hold Congress. Whatever the price.”
When they returned to their rooms, Derrick looked at his brother and asked, “If Mr. Bombast really wins, what’s plan C?” After which, there followed silence.