William Jefferson Clinton watched the two cheerleaders give him a manicure, and realized he missed Rush Limbaugh. The man was always good for a laugh, particularly when he played Hillary’s cackle over and over, or Farrakhan going off about the mothership. The reenactment of the Fairness Doctrine had closed down Rush, and the rest of the talkers who wouldn’t dance to the new tune. You could spin the dial for an hour and never hear anything that got your blood pumping.
He stared at cheerleaders, the white one sawing away at the nails on his left hand, the black one working on the left. Their tight sweaters said Ruth Bader Ginsberg High School, class of 2012. The Tennessee Education Commission had renamed the school two years ago, changed it from Ronald Reagan High and the locals still hadn’t gotten over it. Part of the reason he had been sent down here to Mecklenburg for the grin and grab. Tomorrow he hit two Baptist church pancake breakfasts, a Rotary luncheon, and a Boy Scout banquet that evening. There was an election in November and the party needed every vote to be counted.
The black cheerleader looked up as he started laughing. “You okay?”
“My grampa said you’re the best president we ever had,” said the white cheerleader, stropping away at his hand.
He nodded at the stack of photos of himself in hunting gear. “Would you like me to autograph a picture for him?”
The white girl shook her head. “Grandpa died last year.”
“Oh… well, would you like one for yourself?” he said.
“That’s okay,” she said.
The TV in the corner of the cramped, high school dressing room had the sound off, but he still flinched when Barry … President Obama and Michelle came onscreen. Follow Us to the Promised Land floated just below their smug faces. Their daily inspirational hour broadcast live to the American people. Michelle had taken a rolled-up newspaper to the FCC right after the inauguration and that had been that.
“Switch it off,” he growled. “I’ve been to the Promised Land and it’s over-rated.”
The black cheerleader dropped his hand. “You’re done.”
The white one did the same. “You coming out to talk soon?”
“A few minutes,” he said. “I wanted to let the excitement build.”
“What do you mean?” said the white one.
“I’ll … I’ll be out shortly.” He sat back in the chair after they closed the door, hanging on to the armrests, his head pounding. The cheerleaders had ignored him, left the TV on, and there was Barry … the president grinning away while he clapped his hands, and Michelle, as usual, looking like she wanted to slap somebody, anybody.
Nothing on the tube but those two, and nothing on radio but Air America from sea to shining sea, the bad-news-and-it’s-your-fault radio network. Some girl in Salt Lake fell and skinned her knee, the American people and their past leaders had failed her, past leaders meaning him, Willie Boy, Elvis, the Big Him. Like he should have installed marshmallow sidewalks or given away bubble wrap pants. He absently rubbed the I’m Sorry button in his lapel. Well, he might be wearing the button, but he wasn’t sorry.
Rush Limbaugh wasn’t sorry either. After he got bounced off the U.S. airwaves, Rush had set up a pirate station in the Bahamas, a real blowtorch, powerful enough to reach across the country. It had been a problem for a while, then Barry had stationed the coast guard up and down the whole east coast to jam the broadcasts. Cost a lot of money, but there was plenty now since Barry cut the defense budget by 2/3 after the Iranians promised to play nice. Must be nice to be able to get that through congress. He had slashed the military too, but the republicans squealed like feeder pigs before a luau. Barry … President Obama just blathered something about hope and everybody on both sides of the aisle swooned. Hope we can be friends. Hope we can trust you to keep your word. Hope we don’t get attacked. Hope this.