Chapter 6 – Ditto

Ditto

Hillary checked the time on her tiny silver wristwatch, grumbled under her breath, and continued to pace through the Oval Office, her eyes otherwise locked on the ground beneath her feet. Twenty-three minutes. This was the longest anyone had made her wait in quite some time. It was certainly the longest she’d waited since Bill won the presidency. It was probably longer than anyone made her wait when Bill was the Governor of Arkansas, too. When Hillary was President, the waiting would end. No one would ever dare make her wait again. Especially not this “Deborah” woman.

She checked her watch again, half-expecting an hour to have passed, and not the few seconds that had actually elapsed. “You have to be kidding me,” the First Lady said under her breath as her pacing became heavier. She walked around the Resolute Desk, finding herself coming to a halt just behind her husband’s chair. Her hands instinctively came to rest on the shoulders of the fancy seat, her fingernails gently digging into the fine leather for a moment, before she realized she could do actual damage if she didn’t relent. This will be my chair some day, Hillary Clinton thought to herself. This will be my chair, and my office, and my White House. The image of herself sitting behind the famed desk crossed her mind ever so briefly, but she had to put that idea out of her head. She wouldn’t sit in this chair until it was time. Until it was her time. Until she took the White House. She’d already earned the presidency… the American people just didn’t know that yet.

A knock came to the door, and as Hillary maneuvered to stand beside the Resolute Desk rather than behind it, the President’s secretary came through the door, sporting a professional smile. “Miss Wasserman-Schultz…”

“Finally. Send her in.” The secretary disappeared, and a few seconds later, Deborah Wasserman-Schultz came through the same door, smiling nervously and darting her eyes around the room the way first-timers always would. Hillary was careful not to smile back. She had to play this woman like a clarinet, and that required establishing a dominant stature. “Is this your first time in the Oval Office, Deborah?”

Deborah sheepishly nodded, mumbling something in response.

“I can’t hear you. Speak up. The paintings aren’t going to fall apart or anything.”

“It’s an honor to meet you, your… I mean, First Lady…”

“You’re twenty-three minutes late, Deborah.” Hillary looked at her watch again. “No, twenty-four minutes late. We don’t have time for pleasantries, and we certainly don’t have time for you to be in awe. I need you to tell me something about yourself.”

“Well, I’m a member of the Florida State legislature, and…”

“I know all of that already. That’s not what I’m after here.” Maybe Hillary had made a mistake. Maybe Deborah Wasserman-Schultz wasn’t the political shark Hillary thought she was. No, I’m right, she convinced herself. This girl is a shark. I can see it all over her dossier. She just doesn’t know it yet. “I need to know how bad you want it.”

“How bad I… want it?”

“Yes. How bad do you want it? All of it. Everything there is to want. How bad do you want to go places in this party? How bad do you want to wake up in the White House one day, and get that feeling of disbelief, because this is actually your home, and you actually live here? How bad do you want to get out of that grotesque alligator’s yeast infection you call a State, and get up here to the nation’s capital? Where real decisions are made? Where real power lies? How bad do you want everything there is?”

“I… I want… I think I want…” Deborah was terrified, but Hillary could see a glimmer of hope. She was looking directly into this frizzy-haired Florida woman’s soul, and she could see it. The ambition. The desire. It was silently sitting there, just waiting for someone to turn over the ignition and fire it into life.

“I’m going to set you out on a delicate, secret mission, Deborah. Can I call you ‘Deborah?'”

“Uh… yes… my friends call me ‘Debbie’ though.”

“I’m going to tell you a secret here Debbie. Can I trust you with a secret?”

“Yes,” Debbie replied. It was the most confident she had sounded during their whole encounter. That gave Hillary more hope.

“I’m going to run for President. I’m going to win, too. And you’re going to help me do it. And in exchange for that help, and for your loyalty and your discretion, I’m going to give you everything there is. I’ll blaze the trail, and you’ll lay the brick.”

“When you say ‘everything there is,’ you mean…”

Perfect, Hillary thought to herself. She’s perfect. Precisely as ambitious and as quick to pick things up as I had hoped. “I mean I’m going to send you to the House of Representatives by 2001, then the Senate by 2004, and then the White House by 2012.”

“Really?”

“Well, unless you don’t like that path. We could make you the first chairwoman of the DNC by 2004, instead of the Senate, then send you to the White House in 2016 or 2020.”

“The first way sounds better,” Debbie Wasserman-Shultz responded. There it is. There’s the ambition. “Who do I have to kill?”

“We’re not going to kill anyone. But we are going to take down Vice President Al Gore. We’re going to ‘kill’ his political career. Well, ‘kill’ isn’t the right word. Think of it more as a… a sacrifice. We’re going to sacrifice Al Gore’s career, and that’s going to give me the career I want, and in turn, I’m going to give you the career that you want. Everybody wins.”

Debbie laughed. “Well, almost everyone.”

Good girl.

The two women talked about the plan for nearly forty minutes. Debbie seemed unsure, even hesitant at times, but the more the plan unfolded, the more appreciative she became of it, and the more she wanted to see it through. It wasn’t long before Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was completely onboard. By the time Debbie left the Oval Office, Hillary was completely confident that the plan was going to work. That Bill would have no choice but to name her as Vice President. And when the 2000 presidential election rolled around, the American people would choose her over whatever clown the Republicans would nominate. It was almost too easy.

Hillary looked at her watch again. Bill would be returning to the Oval soon. She didn’t want to be around when he got back. She didn’t want to deal with the oaf for one second more than she had to. With her business with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz concluded, Hillary Clinton made her way down through the West Wing, walking past a woman who looked vaguely familiar. Oh right, her. I can’t let her know I remember who she is. Can’t tip her off on anything. Play it cool, Hillary… play it cool

She doesn’t even remember me, Monica Lewinsky thought to herself as the First Lady strolled by, looking as confident as she did snooty. She doesn’t remember the terrible thing she did to me. I hate… Monica had to stop herself there. “Hate” was too strong a word for most people. What had happened to her was surely embarrassing, but not worthy of full-on hatred.

“Closing time, Monica.” She looked over to see Doug Band standing a few desks away. “Get out of here before the President gets back. I don’t want to keep you any later tonight than you need to be kept, okay?”

“Okay, Doug. Thanks!” With this, the two of them briefly exchanged their goodbyes, and Monica left the West Wing. A while later, she was in Georgetown, at a small café just around the corner from her apartment. She always came here after work, on the days where she got out early enough to catch the tail-end of their business hours anyway. She could order a smoothie and a sandwich, take a seat, and be around people who didn’t work in the White House. If they did, she didn’t recognize them, and that made her feel like a regular, normal American girl for twenty minutes. It was critical to her that she got that time to feel like a normal person, however not-normal her job was. And after ordering, she found a quiet table in a corner, sat down, and started feeling normal, almost convincing herself that her job was normal, too.

“Hey, you mind if I join you?” This person was clearly talking to her. She looked up to see a large, fat, pompous-looking man, his head glistening with sweat, his breathing strained and exhausted. He was holding a greasy fast food bag in one hand, and a tall soda in the other. It was obvious he wasn’t a customer here. But it would be rude of her to dismiss him, wouldn’t it?

“Please do,” Monica replied. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Monica…”

“Lewinsky,” the man interrupted. “Sorry, I hope that wasn’t rude. And sorry for all the panting. I just had to walk three whole blocks. That was the nearest parking spot I could find.”

“I’m sorry… have we met?”

“We’re meeting right now,” the man replied. His grin was made in an effort to seem friendly, but it came across as creepy. “Do you know who I am?”

Monica shook her head. “I’m sorry, sir, but like I said, I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“You don’t recognize me from television? From the news?” The man slimed a grimace onto his face, posturing himself as if it would help her recognize him.

“I’m sorry, I don’t really watch the news.”

“Really? A girl who works in the White House doesn’t watch the news?” The man opened his bag, pulling out a handful of onion rings and crudely shoving them into his mouth. “How dove vat worth?” He finished chewing as he took the lid off of his soda, then swallowed down several huge gulps of the drink. “Sorry… mouth full of food. How does that work?”

“Well, when I’m not working, I try to spend that time… away from work.”

The man had already downed half of his burger in the time it took Monica to reply. he was a fast, relentless, fearless eater, whoever he was. His mouth was clear of debris before he replied. “The name’s Rush. Rush Limbaugh.”

“The name sounds vaguely familiar,” Monica replied. She looked at her own sandwich, but after watching the war crime that was Rush Limbaugh eating food, she struggled to find her appetite. Maybe that’s where he got his first name? For how he rushed while eating?

“Vaguely familiar? I’m the most famous radio broadcaster in America! My show is syndicated nationally! I’m a household name!”

“I’m sorry, mister. I didn’t mean any offense.”

Rush Limbaugh rolled his eyes. He had something to say, but he choked it down harder than he had choked down his burger earlier. He hadn’t eaten since then, though. Maybe her failure to recognize his name made him lose his appetite as well? “It doesn’t matter, I guess. Well, it does, but I guess it doesn’t. So anyway, I’m Rush Limbaugh. I’m a famous radio host. And I sought you out today to see if you’d be interested in showing America how patriotic you can be.”

“Patriotic?”

“Yeah. I know women don’t use big words all that much, but ‘patriotism’ means…”

“I know what ‘patriotism’ is, sir.” She was starting to snap at him. She never would’ve snapped at anyone prior to the golf course incident with Donald Trump. That whole event had changed her, or so she assumed.

“Then you know you have a patriotic duty to America to keep our politicians honest, right? You have a patriotic duty to use your position of power at the White House for the forces of good.”

“The forces of what? I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m…”

“You’re Monica Lewinsky from San Francisco, California. You studied psychology in college. You came here as an intern under White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, and a few weeks later, you were promoted to a full-time position working under President Clinton’s body man, Doug Band. I know exactly who you are, Monica. And I know exactly what you want, too.”

“I want to eat my…”

“You want everything there is,” Rush continued, oblivious to anything Monica had tried to say. “Today, you’re a low-level White House lackey. Tomorrow, you could be a best-selling author and a professional political commentator on cable news. Today, you’re earning some tiny, crappy salary. Tomorrow, you could be signing a six-figure book deal and starting a new career that could land you millions over the next ten to fifteen years.”

“Whatever dishonest thing you’re going to ask me to do, please don’t,” Monica stated firmly. “You don’t know a thing about me. You don’t know what I want.”

“Who said anything about dishonesty? I’m not asking you to lie, Miss Lewinsky. I’m asking you to tell the truth. That’s all I want out of you. The absolute, honest-to-God truth.”

“I don’t feel comfortable with this, Mister Limbo.”

“Limbaugh…”

“… Mister Limbaugh. I don’t know why you chose to approach me of all people, but I’m an honest person. And that means I need to be loyal to my employers. You’re going to ask me to do something illegal, and I’m…”

“Illegal? You don’t even know what I’m asking you to do, Miss Lewinsky. It’s not criminal. Not even a little bit. It’s actually a good thing. I want you to be honest, that’s all. Honest with me, honest with the American people… honest with yourself.”

“Honest with myself?”

“Of course!” Rush took another big swig of his soda. “You want to be loyal to your employers, and loyal to the truth. Well, what if I told you that your employers were dishonest? What if I told you the Clintons were lying to the American people? Lying to you? You can’t be honest with yourself if you refuse to acknowledge when your employers are being dishonest with you. And quite frankly, you probably don’t fully understand who your employers really are. Who signs your paychecks, Monica?”

“Daniel in human resources?”

“No. The American people. That’s who pays you. That’s who you work for. It’s not Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton, it’s not Leon Panetta, it’s not Doug Band, and it’s not Daniel in human resources. You work for the American people. Their taxes bought that sandwich you’re not eating. And all I’m asking you to do is be honest with them. Be honest with yourself. I’ll never ask you to lie to anyone, ever.” He paused, waiting for Monica to respond, but she didn’t. “Have you met Al Gore yet?”

“No. I haven’t met Vice President Al Gore.”

“What can you tell me about him?”

“He works down the hall from me, and he really cares about the environment and global warming.”

Rush Limbaugh laughed at that, loudly enough that other people in the otherwise-quiet café turned to look at them, as irritated as they were curious, before writing off the outburst and returning to their own lives. “Al Gore cares about one thing, and one thing only… becoming the President of the United States. He knows something about the Clintons. Something bad. Something really bad. And Gore is going to use that information against the Clintons soon, in the hopes of making Bill Clinton resign from office. Clinton will resign, the dirty little secret will evaporate into thin air, Al Gore will become president, and the American people will never get their justice. We’ll never get the truth. So what I’m asking you for, Monica, is justice and truth, on behalf of the American people. That’s all I want from you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, though. I’ve never met Vice President Al Gore. I don’t know anything about any of this.”

“I know you don’t. And I’m not asking you to reveal it, either. I just need you to play a small role in all of this. America needs you to play that role.”

Monica couldn’t be any more skeptical, but her interest was certainly piqued. “Okay… what would you need me to do?”

“Give me your cellular telephone number. In a few days or weeks, I’m going to call you. All you’re going to have to do is talk with your friend Sam in the West Wing about his children for five minutes.”

“Sam? The uniformed Secret Service agent who works at the West Wing’s front desk?”

“That’s the one. I’ll call you, and you go to talk with Sam. Talk with him about anything you want, for five whole minutes. Just be your friendly, bubbly self with him. That’s all you’ll need to do.”

“How does that help you uncover stuff about the Vice President?” Monica asked, feeling even more apprehensive about it all, now that it involved the first person in the West Wing to ever be friendly toward her.

“You let me worry about that, Monica. You just answer your cellular phone when I call you, then talk to Sam for five minutes, and let me worry about the rest.”

Monica sat silently, and Rush allowed her that silence, seeing her brain’s machinations churning in her head. It took Monica nearly a full minute to respond back. “Okay. Here’s my phone number. But you have to promise me that nobody will get hurt.”

“I promise, Monica. Nobody will get hurt. But if we don’t act, America will get hurt. And we can’t let that happen.”

“I sure hope you’re right about all of this, mister. I sure hope I can trust you.”

“Ditto… I hope I can trust you, too. But don’t worry, Monica, you can trust me,” he confidently informed her. “I’m Rush Limbaugh. I’m the most honest man in America.”

Her stomach made a strange noise. It meant either she was hungry, or he was the least-honest man in America. Her sandwich told her one thing, but the smirk buried in his jowls? That told her something different entirely.

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