While she settled onto the sofa opposite the flat-screen television, Bond asked Romney about the new Hurricane Directional Control System, developed by top SPECTRE scientists to undermine Al Gore by inflicting inappropriate weather wherever he was speaking. Why was it being deployed against his own convention in Tampa rather than against the Democrats in Charlotte?
Romney smiled an icy smile. “It’s something called the negative bounce. Our pollsters tell us that the more speeches the public hears from a party convention, the less likely voters are to support that party. So the hurricane will cut one-and-a-half days from our own convention but it won’t be allowed within a thousand miles of Charlotte. Clever, nein?”
Just then they were called over by Ann Romney. She was excited by Ryan’s speech.
, he’s talking about us,” she told Romney. They all turned to the screen where the boyish young politician was explaining that America gave penniless immigrants and political refugees the same opportunities as native-born Americans. “That’s us, liebchen
. We were political refugees in 1945. We had nothing, nothing,
and now you are running for president. It makes one proud to be . . . ”
Romney interrupted with a patient smile, resuming his Middle American accent: “My dear, those rules do not apply to political refugees who came to America from Berlin via Argentina in the late 1940s. Besides, your official biography says that you were born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho. Try to remember that or it could get us all into a great deal of trouble. And call me ‘honey,’ not ‘liebchen.’”
Romney then turned to Bond and asked him quietly not to let his wife listen to any more talk radio. But Bond noticed that Ann Romney did not seem entirely convinced. She scowled rebelliously and began muttering something about “a proposition nation” under her breath. Bond wondered hopefully if the Mormon façade was beginning to crack.
Two weeks later at the Charlotte convention, he was sure of it. High above the convention in an airship allegedly advertising Atheists USA, Romney was glued to the television coverage of the opening debates. But he was unusually nervous and uncertain.
“It’s going too well, Oddball,” he told Bond. “Only a handful of the delegates are SPECTRE operatives, but about two-thirds of the hall booed any mention of God. Yes, it helps us with the voters, but what does it mean? Hell, even I think God deserves a mention, and I’m a Satanist.”
Frenchy Galore, chic in a metallic Versace dress made from chains and handcuffs, chimed in: “I agree. It’s kind of creepy. It was bad enough pretending to be a feminist from Georgetown. I’m a nuclear scientist — well, okay, a renegade nuclear scientist, but I have my Ph.D. Spouting complete nonsense doesn’t come easy to me. But it wasn’t as bad as having to defend laws that allow the withholding of medical care from newborn babies who have survived abortions.”
Romney wasn’t so sure: “These babies? The president wanted them for a global organ-harvesting scam — that’s understandable.”
“No,” said Frenchy.
“Well then, he saw that they would increase the size of ethnic groups likely to vote against him in about 20 years? Operation Herod, so to speak?”
“No,” repeated Frenchy.
“Is he perhaps running a hatchery for the raising and conditioning of female sex slaves for the very promising Chinese market created by the one-child policy? And these babies were the wrong sex and had to be disposed of? These slipups happen in the best-run operations.”
“No, nothing like that,” said Frenchy. “He just didn’t want to accept any limitation whatsoever on the right to have an abortion. Allowing babies to survive abortions would weaken that right. I felt kind of queasy making that argument.”
“I don’t blame you, Frenchy,” said Romney with feeling. “It’s shameful, shameful.” Romney suddenly looked closer to his real age of 105. He turned away and walked off towards the bar. But Bond heard him muttering something about “what the world is coming to” and his need for a “stiff gin.”
Two weeks later, Bond and Romney, respectively disguised as Oddball and Colonel Hawkeye, were waiting outside the Oval Office. President Obama had called in Hawkeye to discuss the crisis following the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and Romney had insisted on bringing along Oddball. Bond had again tried to warn the White House, using Q’s voice dissimulator to imitate Petraeus. All he had achieved was to pick up a mysterious message from the president that he should give a dinner party for the Egyptian Copt who had made the anti-Muslim video.
Bond had queried the message.
“No, it’s quite clear, General,” the telephone operator had said. “Tell Petraeus to take out the Copt before he is proven innocent.”
Now it was too late. The president was welcoming them in and outlining his strategy for dealing with the anti-American riots spreading through the Muslim world. Accompanied on this occasion by his wife, his adviser Valerie Jarrett, and his ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, the president was unusually decisive and snapped out his instructions harshly, stamping his foot at times.
“Gentlemen,” he began, “I’ve asked you along to uncover and defeat the worst plot against the United States in my lifetime. It’s an attempt to show that the death of our ambassador to Libya and the riots against U.S. embassies in the Arab world were terrorist actions which our intelligence should have foreseen, and that the events show my Middle East policy to have been a failure. It’s nonsense, of course. These things were a totally unforeseeable outburst of religious indignation at a disrespectful film about the prophet by random groups of heavily armed pilgrims and innocent bystanders with purely fortuitous inside knowledge of our consular security arrangements.”
“Pilgrims,” said the president’s wife.
“Purely fortuitous,” said Ms. Jarrett.
“Totally unforeseeable,” said Ambassador Rice.