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Ron Cruger
The candidate gets briefed in 2008
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            He had a dream, a fantasy as a child, that one day he could grow up and be president of the United States. His dream was different from the other kid’s dreams. He actually saw himself grown up, sitting behind the president’s desk in the Oval Room of the White House. He had not only dreamed of being president – he wanted to be president of the United States of America.
          And now, here he was, early in the year 2008, listening to a handful of his political advisors as they coached him on the problems and predicaments he would face if he were to be elected the nation’s 44th president.
          The man who wanted to be president and five of his closest advisors were holed up in a first class hotel in Washington, D.C. The five men and one woman had checked in on a Friday night and they would stay away from the public, secluded for one specific purpose – to school their candidate on the things that would be facing him if he were to be elected president. It was important that their candidate knew exactly what would he would face in the event of his election.
          The candidate settled into a comfortable over-stuffed chair facing the five men and one woman who sat on the two leather couches facing the man they were helping to become their president.
          The eldest of the advisors, sitting furthest to the candidate’s left, opened what would become an all-day and all-night session sequestered in this hotel room.
          “You know, sir, few presidents in our country’s history have ever taken office with more extensive problems facing them. I would think that Harry Truman felt the full burden of the office when he took the oath after the death of President Roosevelt. You, sir, if you are elected, would take over the leadership of a country with a myriad of serious problems.”
          The candidate nodded and said, “I’m aware that everything isn’t rosy in the country. I’m here to have you folks outline more in detail the problems our team would face after the election.”
          The tall, mustached, political advisor, an old friend of the candidate, leaned forward from his seat on the couch and said, “We have a country in the throes of a recession and it’s going to get worse. If you become president you’re going to take over a country with severe financial problems. The auto makers are going broke. Banks are having severe problems, mainly with mortgages. Then, these troubled mortgages were bundled and sold to investors who thought the had purchased something of value. Millions of people were given low-ball mortgages with balloon payments that they won’t be able to afford in a year or two. The same thing will be happening to commercial mortgages and loans. Within a year or two of the election the country is going to spiral into the worst recession since 1929. It’s going to look different than the one in 1929, but it will be just as serious. Millions will be out of work by the time you would take office, and, if you’re in office in 2010 when things get worse, the other party is going to place the blame on you. You’d better be ready.”
          The candidate’s choice for his senior security advisor stood and paced the room as he told the candidate, “You know that the situation in the Middle East is balancing on the end of a pin. The promise you made to pull our troops out of Iraq is good, but with each withdrawal Iran and a host of radical Muslim terrorists are going to move into Iraq and foment chaos. There is a good chance that Iraq eventually will fall into the hands of the terrorists led by Iran. In order to keep this from happening the United States would have to keep from 100,000 to 200,000 troops on active duty in Iraq. Without that force Iraq is certain to become a radical Muslim state with control coming from Iran.”
          “Plus, you are going to inherit a terrible situation in Afghanistan. The United States is trying to convert the Afghanistan nation into a democracy, when it has been as it is today for thousands of years. The country is run by tribal chiefs who control small areas, many of which have grown poppy seeds for many generations. These tribal chiefs aren’t going to give up their power in order to create a democracy. Afghanistan is run by corruption and payoffs. No matter what we do there it will revert to the only way it knows how to operate. We are tilting at windmills if we think Afghanistan is going to change into a democracy.”
          The candidate’s senior domestic advisor, the groups’ only female, added, “There’s something else that nobody is talking about and that’s the sorry condition that dozens of states are in. There are states like California that will absolutely run out of money sometime after the election. We estimate that fifteen or twenty other states will join California in this terrible state of affairs that has been gathering for the past few years. You will take office at the same time that these states will be facing bankruptcy. If they don’t declare bankruptcy many of these states will be turning to the federal government for money. These states will also be cutting back on services and closing down various departments a few days a week. Now, we know that the federal government doesn’t have enough money to support these states without printing more dollars, so if that happens we can be sure that there will be inflation spreading across the country. All of this will happen by 2010 or 2011, certainly by 2012.”
          The oldest of the candidate’s advisors, a former General Motors vice president for labor matters, took his turn, “Sir, the unemployment figures so far this year have reached seven percent, but don’t be deceived, that figure will rise dramatically right after the election. My staff thinks that unemployment will reach between ten and twelve percent by 2011. One of the problems the country is facing is that there are too few places where a man or woman can work in manufacturing. So many manufacturing jobs have gone overseas that there is a terrible shortage of jobs here in America. Even jobs in the electronic and computer industries have gone to other countries. So many, in fact, that we have millions of Americans unable to find work in their own country. Millions of potential jobs for Americans have gone overseas to countries like India and China. Our feeling is that regardless of what you would do as president there just aren’t enough manufacturing, electronic and computer jobs available for Americans. We fear that the cost of unemployment in America is going to skyrocket.”
          The former head of America’s largest health care system, now the medical advisor to the candidate, reported, “Sir, medical costs are skyrocketing. Millions of Americans don’t have medical insurance and can’t afford any medical care at all. This problem has been mushrooming for decades. It has now reached the point where something must be done. It appears that one of your first responsibilities will be to create a health care plan that will bring these millions of forgotten Americans into the nation’s health care system. You will also have to almost completely revamp our current health care system. What you are facing in your first year or two in office will be one of the largest and most politically perilous projects any president has ever undertaken.”
          The handsome, Latino man, silver haired and trim, spoke, “I fear, sir, that a giant dilemma will face you immediately after the inauguration. There are somewhere between twelve and twenty million undocumented workers in the country. Each day immigrants and workers are crossing our country’s borders. Walls and television cameras won’t stop them. They are coming to America for the same reason immigrants have always come here. To make their dreams come true, to support their families, to earn a living. The country will be anticipating your answer to the immigration problem.”
          The candidate, leaned back in his chair, stretched his legs out in front of him and said, “Let’s take a five minute break.”
          He walked to the large window on the north side of the room and stared at the busy boulevard below. He saw the lighted windows of the large department store, the dozens of taxis crawling along the street. He saw the crowds of people heading home after work.
          The candidate thought of those days as a child when he dreamed of becoming the President of the United States. In a few months his dreams could come true. In a few months the burdens of what he had just heard would fall on his shoulders.