A cadre of government officials plotting to secure unimagined wealth and power; an innocent woman’s death, and a grieving journalist who soon finds himself a nation’s only hope to avert unimagined political catastrophe.
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I’m pleased to offer you another excerpt from my eBook entitled:
THE TRETIAK AGENDA
Little was said as the two men made their way to Marino’s favorite lunch establishment along the waterfront, just a short distance from the network office building.
“Looks like I’m all set for Sunday,” John began once they had been seated and had placed their orders.
“I’ve been asked to be at the White House by eight a.m. I’ll sit with Kevin Fogelberg and Ron Jeffries first,” John explained.
“Have either indicated there’s anything you can’t discuss?”
“Nope! Based on my conversation last night with Brooke Donley, Ron got word from both Kevin and President Neely that I have carte blanche, so I’m sure they’ll be looking for indications of how I’d like the show to develop. Kevin and I spoke this morning, and he said nothing to change my understanding.”
“Are you expecting that Neely is going to announce something first?”
“I doubt he’ll approach it that way; but you can be sure that my first question is going to address the retirement rumor if he doesn’t make a statement.”
“I’m assuming they expect that.”
“I believe so. I’m not sure that the Chief of Staff or Press Secretary are necessarily delighted about that,” John added with a laugh, “but it seems pretty clear that the President is fully prepared to deal with this on Sunday and put it all to bed … and if he is going to retire, pigs will fly before this story is over and done with by Monday morning!”
“This is one big coup for you, my friend!” Marino offered appreciatively. “Hell of a way to get back on the PFTS horse!”
“You’re right, Bob. Doesn’t get much bigger than this,” John admitted with great satisfaction.
“I’ve already instructed the news department to get ready for a special later in the evening. You’ll make yourself available for a segment? We can tape it after your interview if you’d prefer not going live at night.”
“Whatever is best for you is fine with me. If the President stays put, maybe the shelf life will be short. But if he does announce he’s backing out, then the story is really just beginning. So we’ll either be dealing with a big sigh of relief that’s he’s staying on, or we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in hoopla the minute I sign off.”
“So what’s your take?”
John tapped his fork on the table as he considered the question. “I’m heading to my in-laws’ later on. Ray hasn’t gotten a definitive word out of the President. If Mr. Neely is dealing with medical issues of any significance, he won’t jeopardize this nation’s well-being for one second if he cannot perform up to his high standards.
“The fact that he hasn’t just buried this by now tells me something. My guess: he’s going to bow out, and is probably just making sure that all the bases are covered first. I think, or maybe hope, that the President will at least be able to carry out his full first term. I guess we’ll see.”
“Jesus! He’s made several references to enjoying what he’s doing and looking forward to serving the nation, so I’m not entirely convinced … yet.
“And the President was also pretty clear in stating that he developed a real affection for this job, and that it was vital that we regain some semblance of stability in light of … what was it that he said? ‘A whirlwind of speculative distractions.’”
“But that’s my point, Bob. If he weren’t seriously considering this, then he’s been given several perfect opportunities to just stop the chatter in its tracks. The press has lobbed some nice, fat, hanging curves to the plate and he’s nubbing them foul. Neely’s been checking his swing when he should have hammered them out. He knows what kind of effect this rumor is having on everyone!
“That’s why I think he’s going to bow out. I think he wants to assess whatever news he’s been given, weigh it against his responsibilities, and be sure that the ensuing havoc can be managed.”
“It’s a big story, John,” Marino then stated dismissively. The producer did not want to overplay his concerns.
“Your exclusive interview with him, at this time, and what we choose to say, or not say, is gonna set off some major tremors in this city. And that’s especially true since it’s going to be John Delaney doing the talking … and on your first show back! Sunday’s show is going to be like the Super Bowl! I want us to be fully prepared to address whatever he decides. I don’t want the network’s—or my—ass hung out to dry if we’re not on our game.”
“I don’t want that either, Bob, considering it’ll be my butt flapping brightly in the breezes,” John said with a smile, before resuming his argument more strenuously.
“But let’s not lose sight of our responsibilities. You can be sure that this episode of Politics From The Street may be the most intense and carefully-thought-out one I’ve ever been involved with! I’ll let Fox News’ anchors do their twisted analysis—I can’t even imagine what spin they’ll put on this one! But I’m going to jump right in and ask The Question right off the bat and go from there.
“I think it’s pretty clear from the tenor of my recent blog posts that I’ve speculating, too, but not without good reason! I’ll be ready!”
“Never a doubt about that, John.”
“We’re working with limited facts, but a lot of perfectly logical reasons why there’s no way the President is going to bow out absent something unimaginably tragic in his personal life, and a lot of perfectly logical reasons why there’s no way the President can stay if the rumors are true.” John leaned back in his chair and gazed calmly at Marino, who struggled to maintain a measure of professional calm.
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NOTE: Excerpts will be posted weekly throughout the summer
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* I invite you to enjoy this political fiction thriller [here]