How It Was Not to Be
The dark man of powerful build, leonine facial features, and graceful bearing, an altogether handsome figure, entered his new office, followed by his equally new, not quite so physically impressive assistant.
“What’s that?” the Senator asked pointing.
“That, Senator,” the assistant answered grandly, “is your desk.”
“Takes up a lot of space, don’t it?” the Senator asked.
“Well …” The assistant fumbled, at a loss for words.
“Won’t be needing that,” the Senator replied. His voice was husky, jovial, his articulation somewhat rough. He turned around to take in the entire office. “What I do be needing is a armchair.”
“An armchair,” the assistant repeated, modifying the diction ever so slightly. He pulled out a device and typed into it. “Any particular color, Sir?”
“What’s your name again?” the Senator asked.
“Ted, Senator,” the assistant answered.
“Kevin send you?” the Senator asked.
“Yes. Speaker McCarthy expressly asked me to see if there was anything you might need to help you settle in, all this being so new and probably fairly – ”
“What I don’t need is that,” the Senator pointed again to the desk. “It takes up a lot of space and this here office isn’t that big, is it?”
“It’s the … uh … standard size,” Ted responded.
“They all got desks?” the Senator asked.
“Yes, they do,” Ted affirmed with false cheer.
“What do they do with them?” the Senator wanted to know.
“With what, Sir?” Ted felt himself fading under the unexpected browbeating.
“With them desks.”
“They sit at them?” The Senator sounded accusatory.
“Yes,” Ted admitted.
“How long they sit at them?”
“They sit at them all day?” the Senator probed mercilessly.
“Sometimes I believe they do,” Ted replied, once again forced to admit guilt.
“And what do they do at them desks?” the Senator asked.
“They … uh … read, I think.”
“I ain’t that kind of senator and ain’t that a good thing. It’s about time we got some doers in this place. That’s me. You get rid of that,” he pointed to the desk. “And you bring me my armchair, any color if you can’t get one of them real classy deep-red Moroccan ones.”
“I’ll do what I can, Sir. Is there anything else I can get for you at the moment?”
“I need that armchair and that thing,” another gesture to the desk, “out.”
The assistant disappeared.
The morning had turned into a beautiful afternoon by the time the assistant knocked at the new Senator’s office door again. A va-va-va-voom secretary answered and ushered the assistant into the inner office where the Senator stood at the window regarding a limpid golden light playing among breeze-tousled trees. Clearly, it was an afternoon when nobody sensible would be sitting at a desk, and certainly not reading. The Senator was wearing loose-fitting dark trousers and a taut T-shirt that revealed brawny shoulders, a broad back, and massive, well-toned forearms. In a shadowy corner, a dress shirt and suit jacket hung neatly from a magnificent clotheshorse. Pivoting, the senator asked:
“Now you’re … ”
“Ted,” the assistant reminded the Senator.
“And Kevin assigned you to me,” the Senator rehearsed.
Ted scratched his head with a bemused look. “Sort of.”
“Yeah or sort of?” the Senator demanded.
“Yes, he did,” Ted answered levelly.
“Okay, then, first of all, what’s all that?” The dark, muscular man pointed to a stack of folders by the door.
“Ah! That’s the … um .. the … um …”
“The um what?” the Senator asked, mocking Ted slightly.
“Your agenda, Senator.”
“My agenda? It ain’t my agenda! I got my own agenda. Campaigned on that. I didn’t get elected to let no third-party agendas get pushed on me. I’ve been around long enough to know that. So you take that pile right out of here.”
The assistant repositioned his feet to take on the Senator squarely. “Those are the briefs and bills on the agenda for the coming Senate sessions. The briefs are coming up for discussion. The bills are due for a vote on Thursday.”
“They are, are they?” the Senator taunted.
“Yes,” Ted answered firmly. “The briefs will be discussed in sessions this week, and the bills are scheduled for a vote Thursday afternoon.”
“Is that so? And who’s supposed to be doing all this discussing and voting?” the Senator pushed back.
Ted hesitated. “The senators, Senator, of which you are one.”
“Am I now … that is, I know that.”
The Senator walked casually toward the two-foot high stack, which sat in a plastic crate particularly designed to support it.
“And what am I supposed to do with this?” he asked, pointing to it.
“Well,” Ted assumed a chipper tone. “Go through it and decide how you think these issues will affect your constituency – that is, the people who voted for you – well, that’s not correct. The people you represent. That’s your constituency.”
“My constituency?” The Senator returned to the glow of the window to stare out at the beauty of the hour maturing all by itself outside.
“That’s right,” Ted affirmed.” Not just who voted for you but everybody, that is, everybody in your state.”
“That’s asking a hell of a lot,” the Senator said.
Ted maintained silence.
“And how the hell am I supposed to know what everybody wants?” the Senator complained. “And everybody knows anyway you can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself.”
“Just a minute, Senator,” Ted plucked up his courage as he prepared to lecture, but got no chance.
“Don’t tell me. I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s why you’re here and that’s why I got me a armchair.” With that the Senator pivoted reluctantly but neatly away from the golden light of the seductive afternoon, strode to his deep-red Moroccan leather armchair, and dropped himself into it. “So bombs away.”
“Pardon me, Sir?”
“Let’s get at it. For example, the top one.”
Ted walked to the door and lifted the topmost folder in the stack. “This one?”
“That’s right, that one. What’s in it?”
“It’s the background on a bill up for a second reading,” Ted said, scanning from a sheet of paper he had taken from inside the folder, “to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces.”
“Holy Moly! The bill to what? Wait, before we get any deeper into this, you got any sticky notes on you?”
The Senator leaned over to reach the intercom set on the top of a not too nearby and otherwise empty bookcase. As soon as he pushed a button, a cheery female voice answered.
“Hey, Sugar Loaf,” the Senator cooed huskily. “You bring me on in here some sticky notes, will ya? And a pencil. Sharpened.” He clicked off. Immediately, the va-va-va-voom secretary swept in, handed the Senator a brand-new pad of sticky notes, a pencil, and a small plastic pencil sharpener. “Just in case, Senator,” she said. “Thank you, Sugar Loaf.” The girl swept out and shut the door soundlessly behind her, but her light perfume lingered. “If she wasn’t wearing Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien, you might take her for fourteen. And ain’t nobody wanting to do that. Where do they get them, Ted?” the Senator mused in high spirits, but gave the sweating assistant no time to answer that treacherous question. “Back to work. What’s in that first one again, the one you got in your hand?”
Ted looked discomfited and bit his lip. “As I said, it’s the background and second reading of a proposed bill about …” Ted began reading again, “providing for an exception to a limitation against – ”
“Yeah,” the Senator answered, making himself comfortable in his armchair. “And I said what’s that?”
As Ted began explaining the bill, the Senator interrupted him again.
“I don’t need to know it all, do I? I got an intelligence. Just tell me the gist of it. I’m good at gists. They my thing. Gists. Give me the gist, Ted.”
As Ted fumbled through the seventy pages trying to swiftly work his way towards a gist, the Senator interrupted him yet again, this time with a happy suggestion: “Why don’t you just tell me what Kevin makes of it.”
“How do you mean?” Ted asked.
“What’s Kevin think of it?” the Senator expanded generously on his initial, albeit rather basic request.
“Well … ” Ted wondered what Speaker McCarthy thought of it.
“How’s Kevin figuring on voting on this one?” the Senator broke through Ted’s ponderous consideration.
“This isn’t up for a vote, Senator,” Ted explained, “This is up for a second reading in the Senate, not the House.”
“Well, hey! Let’s get a move on here! Pull the stuff coming up for a vote out of there and tell me what Kevin makes of it.”
Ted pulled out five folders. One by one, he reviewed each bill and told the Senator what Speaker McCarthy thought about each.
After the first explanation, the Senator had just one question: “So that means a ‘yes’ vote or a ‘no’ vote?”
“Speaker McCarthy won’t be voting,” Ted explained gently. “These are all up for a Senate vote. Speaker McCarthy is not in the – “
“Just tell me how he would vote on it,” the Senator persisted.
On getting Ted’s sad response, the Senator gripped his chunky pad of sticky notes firmly in one large hand and wrote “Y” or “N” on the topmost note with the pencil grasped in the other sizeable hand, pulled the sticky note off, and handed it to the assistant.
“Stick that on and put the folder over there,” the Senator ordered with each one.
Ted did as he was instructed and placed in turn each of the five folders with their sticky notes in the corner by the stately clotheshorse. When Ted had laid the fifth folder by the clotheshorse, the Senator asked with a wide grin, “That it?”
“Those are all the bills coming up for a vote, yeah,” Ted affirmed.
“And I got some sunshine left. Maybe Sugar Stuff –”
“Loaf,” Ted corrected, then dropped his head miserably.
Ted hesitated. “Never mind.”
“No, you come on. What you about to say?” the Senator insisted.
“It’s just that you … called her Loaf before. Sugar Loaf, but I guess that’s not her name anyway,” he murmured defeated. “Never mind.”
“I’m not about to never mind nothing! I was just thinking Sugar Dumpling – I know there’s sugar in there somewhere – might like to go for a little stroll with her new Senator.” The Senator rose from his armchair. “I do love life, Ted. Lots of it. That’s one thing everybody can say about this elected official.” At the door, he pivoted adroitly and, pointing to the five folders by the clotheshorse, instructed: “I want you taping those sticky notes extra with some Scotch tape. I don’t want none of my votes getting mixed up any. My constituency paid a lot of money for those. Millions. Don’t forget it.”
“Just one question, Senator,” Ted asked, fuming.
“Shoot, bro!” the Senator commanded magnanimously.
“Did you ever read the job description for senator?”
“Didn’t have no time for that crap stuff. I was out there campaigning my brains out.”
The Senator exited, shutting the door soundlessly behind him. Ted heard a whistle and a soft squeal. When he left the room himself in search of Scotch tape, any Senator and Sugar Loaf, Stuff, or Dumpling that may once have been there were gone.
Sorry to say, I find this essay offensive – unsurprisingly partisan and possibly racist.
Dear Reader, I’d like to suggest that it was the Republicans who were being offensive, partisan, and possibly racist in supporting a senatorial candidate hand-picked by Trump because he was Black, in the hope that his race would be an asset in knocking out Warnock, also Black. They could see Walker was not qualified to be a Senator, but could be sure he would vote with the party, another reason he was chosen. Their maneuver shows they were very willing to exploit Walker as a man and exploit his race. Had Walker been elected, his likely first hours in office would be as depicted here, shown with good humor, I trust, but in a sober light.
You have captured the man admirably. He seems to have been an amiable, bewildered fellow capable of taking many punches with a certain good grace but it’s nevertheless true that he probably couldn’t hold his own today in a fifth grade classroom. It was rather sad how someone so “demonstrably stupid” (Joy Reid’s phrase) was being exploited. Or to change the metaphor, he was a bear being cruelly baited.