Chapter VIII: The Glass Cliff
"The firings were immediate. I mean that as well. The Republican Party had just been whipped into a corner, far more than what happened to Porter in '94. The entire GOP was reeling, yet it was President Rifenburg that was taking it the hardest. A metaphorical aneurysm developed after Qanuni-gate (something which Rifenburg went on the record on wanting to prevent) After BaseGate, Chairman Harris, and what happened that bitterly cold November night one decade ago, it was clear that something truly radical had to be done. Soon-to-be-former Majority Leader Chambrovich suggested longtime-New Hampshirite Gerald Hatfield should be the Chairman of the GOP. White House Chief of Staff O'Grady had already printed his resignation by the time we lost Florida to Ed Kensington." - Excerpt of George Oglethorpe's The Long Way Back, 2017
Former Press Secretary George Oglethorpe, pictured in 2017
President Anthony Rifenburg, R-California, January 20th, 2005-
Vice President Cindy Anne Vissering, R-Alabama, January 20th, 2005-
Secretary of State Jonathan Bainbridge, R-Maine, January 21st, 2005-
Secretary of Treasury Diane McFarlen, R-Texas, January 21st, 2005-
Secretary of Defense Frank Tanaka, R-Florida, January 23rd, 2005
Attorney General John David Krol, R-Georgia, February 14th, 2005-
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laura Corbyn, R-Colorado, February 21st, 2005-
Director of Central Intelligence Charles Fong, R-California, March 3rd, 2005-
White House Chief of Staff Robin O'Grady, R-District of Columbia, January 20th, 2005-November 7th, 2006
White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret, R-Maine, November 8th, 2006-
White House Counsel Ryan Paulson, R-Florida, November 10th, 2006-
"The Republican Party was all-but in a death crawl by the time the Democratic Party had walked back into the House of Representatives. The Californian Speaker Olliver handed the Speaker's gavel to proud Wisconsinite Barry Steadman. Speaker Steadman, I remember we said, ruled with an iron fist. A lot of it was bluster, a lot of it was true. Regardless, the populist Progressive was cut of the same cloth of many in the 1980s UK Labour Party rather than the U.S. Democratic Party. Either way, Victor Berger returned...in the form of a charismatic populist professor." White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret in Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret, R-Maine
"The Republican Party was all-but in a death crawl by the time the Democratic Party had walked back into the House of Representatives. The Californian Speaker Olliver handed the Speaker's gavel to proud Wisconsinite Barry Steadman. Speaker Steadman, we said, ruled with an iron fist. Some of it was bluster, some of it was true. Regardless, the populist Progressive was cut of the same cloth of many in the 1980s UK Labour Party rather than the U.S. Democratic Party. Either way, Victor Berger returned...in the form of a charismatic populist professor."
- White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret in Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
"The Democratic Party had a full slate of candidates to choose from. From Jackie Easley of Alaska to Harrison DeCleavers of Wisconsin, the 2008 Democratic Primary was a free-for-all. As for the Republicans, they were worried about the President's brain aneurysm, much less than the 2008 Republican Primary. The Presidential Election of 2008 was shaping up to be a free-for-all, just four years after 2004's tumultuous election. There was (North Carolina Congressman Harrison) Key, (2004 Democratic VP nominee Rachel) Andrews, (Missouri Governor August) Delacourt, (California Senator Caroline) Williams, (Arizona Governor Gabriel) Russo, (Michigan Senator Edward) Rose, and (Massachusetts Governor Jacob) Adams all announced their bids from December 2006 to April 2006. Then the next wave announced their bids: (Mississippi Congressman) Curtis James, (Colorado Governor Joe) Rutter, (former Secretary of State Anderson) Sinner, (Delaware Senator Eric) Vanderberg, and former Porter staffer and Congresswoman Chloe Frémont. There was one final candidate that announced to little fanfare, with a crowd of friends, family, and a few members of the media. Julianna van Moren, the Junior Senator of the third most populous state in the Union, was running for President of the United States. Clearly, it was a long shot, especially with that low name recognition."
- Kirk Roman, The Oval with Kirk Roman, Season 3, Episode 9
Anchor Kirk Roman, host of The Oval with Kirk Roman for Bear News Group
The full list of Candidates for the 2008 Democratic Primaries:
Jacob Adams, Governor of Massachusetts since 2003, Dovish Progressive, Announced bid: April 21st, 2007
Rachel Andrews, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania since 2001, 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Progressive Populist, Announced bid: December 26th, 2006
August Delacourt, Governor of Missouri since 2005, Center-left Democrat, Announced bid: March 1st, 2007
Chloe Frémont, U.S. Representative from Florida's 14th District since 2001, a "Pragmatic" Progressive, Announced bid: July 1st, 2007 Curtis James, U.S. Representative from Mississippi's 2nd District since 2003, a Southern populist, Announced bid: June 1st, 2007
Harrison Key, U.S. Representative from North Carolina's 4th District since 1999, a Southern populist, Announced bid: December 5th, 2006
Edward Rose, U.S. Senator from Michigan since 2003, Anti-establishment populist, Announced bid: April 14th, 2007
Gabriel Russo, Governor of Arizona since 2003, Libertarian-leaning, Dovish Democrat, Announced bid: March 19th, 2007
Joe Rutter, Governor of Colorado since 2003, Progressive Democrat, Announced bid: June 4th, 2007
Anderson Sinner, U.S. Secretary of State from 2001-2005, Pro-Free Trade Hawkish Democrat, Announced bid: June 20th, 2007
Julie van Moren, U.S. Senator from New York Since 2005, Populist-Progressive, Hawkish Democrat, Announced bid: July 4th, 2007
Eric Vanderberg, U.S. Senator from Delaware Since 2001, Mainstream Hawkish Democrat, Announced bid: June 20th, 2007
Caroline Williams, U.S. Senator from California Since 1999, Centrist, Hawkish Democrat, Announced bid: March 4th, 2007
"Twelve candidates announced their bid for the Presidency by July 2nd, 2007. Yet, another would be added on July 4th. An unknown Senator from New York would announce her bid for the Presidency. A populist, anti-establishment Progressive since her first election as the Comptroller of New York in 1998, she was only 34. Almost a decade later, the improbable rise of Julie van Moren was thanks to a neigh-Herculean effort to better those around her. A champion of New York's pension and retirement systems, van Moren was a noted deficit hawk, urging for the elimination of the bloated Albany-based government. 2004 would be a year that brought the name of Julie van Moren to national television in a passionate speech regarding the increasing deficit as well as the "duty to be our brother's keeper." Senator van Moren had stayed largely in the backbenches, getting to know the various members of the U.S. Senate. This wasn't simply a launchpad for her eventual Presidential bid, rather it was a way to serve the people of New York. She served the state well, producing comprehensive legislation in healthcare, immigration, civil rights, the Federal budget, the U.S. financial system, infrastructure reform, ethics reform, anti-corruption, lobbying, and nepotism laws. For the untrained eye, it was as if Senator van Moren appeared out of nowhere- yet the citizens of New York knew. For the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a New Yorker would be at the forefront of American politics."
- Excerpt from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
The campaign, however, was grueling. van Moren would struggle in the lower tens, while front-runners such as Secretary Sinner, Vanderberg, Williams, and Andrews floated in the 20s. The invisible primary was brutal for multiple candidates, causing candidates such as Frémont, James, and Russo to drop out as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Straw poll approached. It would be here that the front-runners would be chosen as the primary continued. Secretary Sinner would wax about the profitability of a united global community (spurning the irritation of radio talk show hosts that raised the alarm of the "One World Government" that supported the former diplomat), while Governor Adams eviscerated the Administration's foreign policy past and present, from Quanuni-gate to the situation in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Governor Rutter praised his education reforms that pushed Colorado into the top three highest literacy rates in the nation- a bold claim that had become much more factual as the Summer campaign rolled on. Meanwhile, the Senator from New York would take a much more populist angle with her speech. Whipping the crowd into a positive frenzy, Senator van Moren decried the continuous abandonment of the "elite establishment" against the common man. She urged a foreign policy that cared not about how it would look to reach out to nations such as North Korea, Cuba, and China in an effort to democratize their nations. Senator van Moren concluded with a "greatest hits" of the Progressive movement. The New York Senator would be considered to have brought down the house as the Dinner concluded. van Moren would walk away with a clear victory at the straw poll, with previous "front-runner" Vanderberg following behind. (Granted, the field gave more of a flavor-of-the-month feel to the Democratic electorate.)
Iowa approached, with the end truly in sight for many candidates. The night grew long as it became clear the result would be a three-way tie between Senator Rose, Williams, and van Moren. Rutter and Delacourt would drop out of the race as the Manchester Debate arrived. Senator van Moren, considered to be the target of multiple candidates, shone through the litany of attacks on her campaign's viability. Senator van Moren would secure a decent victory, with Governor Adams and Secretary Sinner dropping out. The primary season went Westward towards Nevada. Senator van Moren would secure a bare-bones victory over Senator Williams. Considered more of a loss for Williams, it would continuously dog the campaign.
Senator Rachel Andrews and Catherine Williams would put everything on a victory in South Carolina. Andrews would craft a simple strategy of combining the White Working Class of the Upstate and the African-American population throughout the state. Senator Williams sought a similar strategy, though it would be through door-to-door campaigning using local politicians and figures. Senators Rose and van Moren pursued the eventual prize of the South Carolina primary. Yet it would be Andrews that scored a victory in the first four states. Senator Williams would be scrambling for states as Rose and van Moren swung towards the mainstream Democrats. Super Tuesday would most likely decide the nominee. Senator Rose would see much momentum in the Midwest and in Illinois, gaining the endorsement of former President Sutherland- who had since retired to writing novels.
Senator Edward Rose, Michigan, 7 states
Senator Julie van Moren, New York, 10 states
Senator Caroline Williams, California, 3 states, plus American Samoa
Senator Rachel Andrews, Pennsylvania, 5 states
"Rachel (Andrews) and Julie (van Moren) won far more states than they were expected to win. Their wins, however, emboldened van Moren far more than Andrews, the latter of which was still struggling in terms of delegates. The Pennsylvanian Senator decided to trudge on, seeking to play king -or queen maker of the primary. Andrews' career was far from over, as she was only forty-eight. She'd still be in her 50s by the time 2012 or 2016 rolls around. Yet, what surprised everyone was the announcement from the Senator from California." -excerpt of Politics in Pennsylvania: The Keystone State's Rise to Relevance, by Amanda Knatchbull, 2013
Senator Caroline Williams: "After a long, difficult discussion with my family, we have decided that it is best that I step away from this campaign. It has been a highly unusual honor to be granted an opportunity to restore Americanism and American integrity. Yet, I must be honest with you. The viable path to the nomination has now closed. Yet, that does not mean the fight is over. The two remaining candidates still can break that thickest, hardest to break ceiling. My fellow Americans, I ask you to join me in supporting the true Democrat of our party: Julie van Moren!"
"The endorsement that Julie van Moren picked up from Caroline Williams is considered to have sealed the deal for van Moren's momentum. Louisiana, Nebraska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Washington Caucus on February 9th, the Maine caucuses on February 10th, the Democrats Abroad, and finally D.C., Maryland, and Virginia on the Twelfth all saw a sweep for van Moren. Wisconsin and Hawaii were close victories for Rose, though it was becoming dire for the Michigan Senator. Ohio was won by Senator Rose, as well as the Texas Primary. However, the Texas Caucus, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming saw victories for van Moren, while Mississippi saw a victory for the still-in-the-race Andrews. Pennsylvania and North Carolina saw victories for Rachel Andrews, while Indiana was won by Senator Rose. The prospect of a brokered convention became more likely with each passing primary. Guam, West Virginia, and Kentucky would be picked up by Senator Andrews. The states would whittle down as a brokered convention in Miami. Things were not going well for either Rose or van Moren. Puerto Rico would be won by van Moren, as well as South Dakota and Montana, giving the New Yorker much-needed momentum."
-excerpt of Politics in Pennsylvania: The Keystone State's Rise to Relevance, by Amanda Knatchbull, 2013
Senior White House Correspondent Amanda Knatchbull of The Pennsylvania Telegraph, picture circa 2014
2008 Presidential Election Democratic Primary:
With Popular Vote
2008 Presidential Election Democratic Primary:
Without Popular Vote
Senator Edward Rose, Michigan, 12 states plus New Marinas Islands, 30.1% of the Popular Vote
Senator Julie van Moren, New York, 22 states plus Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Democrats Abroad, 34.5% of the Popular Vote
Senator Caroline Williams, California, 3 states, plus American Samoa 11.2% of the Popular Vote
Senator Rachel Andrews, Pennsylvania, 12 states 24.2% of the Popular Vote
"For the first time since 1968, the Democratic Party was going to have a contested convention. Yet, Chairwoman Robinson fought as hard as she could to prevent it. Senator Andrews, knowing full-well that she had no real viability as a candidate- even if she was the third choice. The Progressive van Moren fought for Catherine Williams' delegates in California and any other leaning delegates from the West Coast, while Senator Rose sought a delegate path through the Heartland- the base of Senator Andrews' support."
- Excerpts from
"The Miami Convention would be fast approaching, with Senator Andrews becoming more malleable to Edward Rose's Cabinet offers. Senator Rose would pick up Secretary Sinner's endorsement, while Andrews picked up former Attorney General Saroyan. One thing, in particular, gave a major break for the candidates- former Secretary of Treasury and New Jersey Senator Ernest Kurome would endorse Senator van Moren."
A figure who was relatively new to this "politics" thing, Kurome preferred to focus on what could be possible rather what could be discussed. The Day of Fire Attacks saw Kurome rise to the occasion as the acting President. Considered by many supporters as the "American Churchill," Kurome scoffs at that similarity. Yet, Kurome would be joined by Connecticut Senator Anderson Sherman and New Hampshire Senator Andrea Calhoun- two other popular Senators in their state. The 2008 Democratic National Convention in Miami opened with Senator van Moren's wind on her back. Chairwoman Robinson managed to have the Convention be scheduled for six days, with a seventh at the ready."
"Day One focused on opening the Convention with a who's who of the Democratic party. The quote by Florida Congresswoman Frémont "Tonight, we let the people decide how which direction we shall go. Tonight, we prove to you why we are called the 'Democratic' party." would be tossed around the media circuit throughout the day. Day One was the hype-fest, while Day Two would be the actual voting."
- Excerpt from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum,
Senator van Moren would meet with Senator Rose before the third ballot. After much deliberation and according to some sources a coin toss, Senator van Moren would be the Presidential nominee- without Senator Andrews' intervention. Senator van Moren would reportedly tell Rose that he "better brush up on his foreign policy," inferring his nomination as Secretary of State in van Moren's Cabinet.
The Miami Convention would conclude, with the nomination of New York Senator Julie van Moren as President. The Vice Presidential nominee was a long story, with Senator van Moren supposedly considering candidates such as Senator Andrews, Speaker Steadman, Senator Kurome, Secretary Sinner, Senator Hollingbrooke (Sinner and Hollingbrooke to balance the foreign policy "inexperience") even Senator Rose was considered in an unlikely ticket. Senator van Moren suggested the Vice Presidential slot to the Michigan Junior Senator, though Senator Rose specifically suggested a different candidate. Charismatic, quick-witted, and a champion of worker's rights, the Senate Majority Whip was in line for the position of Majority Leader, perhaps after Senator Gustafson retired. Senator Stetson Webb had a truly inspiring story- a Navy-enlisted West Virginian that converted to Christianity. Since then, he became a pastor of his local church, then his hometown's mayor, Congressman in 2001, Congressman, then Senator in 2003. Senator Webb became a U.S. Senator from West Virginia after the retirement of the longtime incumbent. Stetson would be selected to be on the Appropriations Committee, though was hand-picked by the Montanan Senate Majority Leader as a protege. Now, thanks to the urging of Gustafson and Rose, Senator Julie van Moren would select Webb as the 2008 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee.
West Virginia Senator Stetson Webb, 2008 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, picture circa 2008
"There was a great amount of doubt on whether or not President Rifenburg could even go on. After a successful surgery for a brain aneurysm, many considered President Rifenburg unlikely to run for re-election. President Sutherland decided not to run in order to fully reform entitlements- a success that was given to Sutherland in the first few weeks of December 2004. Now, President Rifenburg was considering a similar path. Chief of Staff Jean Thouret and Chairman Hatfield discussed with President Rifenburg on the viability of running for re-election, but against Congress. Jerry Ford nearly won in '76, whereas Porter landed his comeback twenty years later. Could there really be a path forward for the 44th President? He held that thought as he got out of his chair and out of the Oval Office. A path forward...those words gave him pause. "
"Jean, set me up with Majority Leader Chambrovich, ask if he's having lunch today."
"Yessir, ...though isn't it a bit early for lunch?"
"Then it's a brunch. Either way..."
"Yessir." The Chief of Staff walks out of the room.
President Rifenburg sat back in his chair, with only Senior Advisor John Stafford and myself in the room.
"Should we...?" I ask without continuing on to Stafford, looking at both him and the President, now fiddling with a Rubix cube in his hand.
"Brunch? I mean if you'd like," the President broke the silence, without breaking his concentration on the nearly-finished puzzle, "You are the second person that I am going to ask this too, Hugh. I think you know who I am referring to." We both knew exactly what he was talking about: the First Lady.
Anthony and Megan Rifenburg, November 2nd, 2004
"Dr. Megan Rifenburg wasn't at all invested in her husband's political career. Preferring the medical profession, Mrs. Rifenburg became a pediatrician, specifically infants or young children with complications- especially Failure to Thrive. Mrs. Rifenburg hadn't considered it much when Rifenburg first ran for Congress all the way back in 1994. After all, she was still going to operate her private practice out of Redding. A decade turned and Rifenburg was on the inside track for the 2004 Republican Nomination. Facing off political giants such as Schultz, Baudin, and Krol, the Congressman's wife appeared every now and then on the trail. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina came and went- with a strange apathy. Sure Megan was charismatic, yet she was reserved, soft-spoken, and a dedicated to her work. When Super Tuesday arrived, Megan Rifenburg decided to leave her work in Redding for the life of the candidate's wife."
Anthony Rifenburg, in a later interview: "When I think about it...it wasn't my strategists, campaign managers, nor supporters that elected me President. It was my God and my wife."
"Megan Rifenburg would show an untapped campaigning prowess as she crisscrossed the nation. She easily connected with the heart of America. What they found was a good-natured, fiercely loyal, and charismatic wife. She was superb, supporting, and as would be found out...sick."
"The diagnostic tests for Megan was expected...it's Parkinson's. Of all the times that I would ever want to prove the love of my life wrong...now would be it. Afghan. Pres. Quanuni stated that the U.S. was involved in his election. RNC Chair Lincoln told me over lunch that she wanted to resign. I'll be right back."
- the first paragraph of the Anthony Rifenburg in his Presidential Journal, dated "Tues. Jan. 10 '06"
Megan Rifenburg would be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in January of 2006. Yet, it would be the same day that Quanuni-gate was announced. It would be through a slip of the tongue that would start speculation, then eventual confirmation a few weeks after. 2006 was truly a year that the entire Rifenburg Administration would much rather forget. 2007, however, was promising.
President Rifenburg would give the 2007 State of the Union Address to a Congress that was firm to the left of the President. Yet, President Rifenburg announced a strange optimism and a "unique opportunity for bipartisanship" among other overtures. Yet, the budget battle would begin all the way in March, when Speaker Steadman urged a general budget increase of 5%, whereas the White House's Budget proposal froze Government funding as a whole. A budget showdown ensued as the President fought tooth-and-nail for no taxes and no increases in spending. The 2007 Government Shutdown would be widely considered to be the fault of the President, with Speaker Steadman physically walking to the White House- a picture reminiscent of both The West Wing as well as the 1995 Government Shutdown. Once again, the President reluctantly accepted the terms, with taxes lowering with Federal funds becoming allocated to more Social programs. The Rifenburg Administration would be increasingly seen as weak, ineffective, and inconsequential. A common moniker from the media, especially from Marvin Main's As the Sun Rises would go: "We wanted a warrior, yet we got a wimp." Rifenburg clearly had a serious problem regarding his image. Yet, when things went from bad to worse, the country looked towards the leader of the free world.
It was 11 at night on the East Coast. While most on the Eastern Seaboard were retiring to their bedrooms, President Rifenburg was wrapping up his remarks to the American Conservative Union at one of their multiple galas before the General Election. For those in the press, 201 North Union Street, Alexandria, Virginia, was yet another speech along the President's campaign trail. For President Rifenburg and his higher staff, it was one stop on the long road ahead to re-election. The Conservative from California was having a very difficult time getting his campaign off the ground, yet it was only intensified after the resignation of Treasury Secretary McFarlen just one month ago. Regardless, his upper staff was hardly recognizable since two years ago.
Cabinet of President Anthony Allen Rifenburg
44th President of the United States
President Anthony Rifenburg, R-California, January 20th, 2005-
Vice President Cindy Anne Vissering, R-Alabama, January 20th, 2005-
Secretary of State Jonathan Bainbridge, R-Maine, January 21st, 2005-
Secretary of Treasury James Holson, R-Iowa, April 3rd, 2007-
Secretary of Defense Frank Tanaka, R-Florida, January 23rd, 2005-
Attorney General Ryan Paulson, R-Florida, May 4th, 2007-
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laura Corbyn, R-Colorado, February 21st, 2005-
Director of Central Intelligence Charles Fong, R-California, March 3rd, 2005-
White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret, R-Maine, November 8th, 2006-
White House Counsel Andre Thibodeaux, R-Louisiana, May 3rd, 2007-
There were only two people that still remained on President Rifenburg's Cabinet since January 20th, 2005. Secretary Bainbridge and Secretary Tanaka were both considered highly controversial against the Senate. While impeachment proceedings began in the 110th Congress, nothing beyond those two leaks were able to be used as solid evidence. Chief of Staff Thouret and White House Counsel Paulson implored the President to not bother with firing Bainbridge or Tanaka.
"The reason was simple. Speaker Steadman and Majority Leader Gustafson smelt blood in the water when it came to the President's highest officers. The Quanuni Hearings went on throughout the year. Jimmy Anderson was very unavailable due to his wife's pregnancy with triplets. Ryan [Paulson] would look for a Special Prosecutor- for the sake of transparency, despite the intense objections of Attorney General Krol. I briefly talked with Ryan to get up to speed. I remember later that night I looked up a few well-known potential Special Prosecutors- specifically the list that O'Grady used. There weren't many names on it, which was sort of good. After reading up the bio of yet another Illinois lawyer, a young man by the name of Nick O'Malley, I turned off the computer in hopes of getting good sleep. My first few months of serving in the Rifenburg White House were intense...yet thrilling.
Attorney General Krol slammed the door on his way out. It was just President Rifenburg and myself. I remember the look on his face. His 400k haircut was disheveled. The bags under his eyes were shaded, his eyes nearly bloodshot. The ambient noise of the President's family heirloom- a 200-year-old Victorian-era grandfather clock, was the only noise to be heard other than President Rifenburg's light sobbing. For years he had crafted the Administration that he desired. Appointing the right person for each job, he truly believed that he could be the next Reagan or Eisenhower. He looked up, right at me.
"So...what's next?" he asked, with a loud sigh. I'm not sure whether he was seething with anger or being ravished with depression. As far as he could know, he was being played- conned even, into believing in the American Dream. He grew up in a city very much like my own in Maine, in a town where everyone was on a first name basis, where they truly believed in the American Dream. He believed in the American Dream- where even a young, middle class American could rise to the top. He built up a business with his own hands, he became married, had wonderful children that were on to their own successes, he spent more time with his family than with the political career that he was creating. Yet, it would be for these reasons that Rifenburg found success after success. President Sutherland would see a major backfire in the House which the Illinoisan was once the leader. After a brief appointment as the House Majority Whip, Rifenburg grew connections inside of the Republican party. Congressman Rifenburg passed candidate after candidate in the primaries- reaching all the way to the RNC in Nashville. Rifenburg stood up to President Sutherland and kicked him out of the White House.
"A new Attorney General?" I sheepishly replied.
"What good does that do?" the President responded, to which I responded with a shrug.
"5 million, four hundred and fifty-nine thousand, three hundred and twenty-two."
"I'm not sure I follow?"
"That's how many jobs that I have made- Federally and privately. I have fired fourteen Cabinet Secretaries, one has fully resigned." he began to explain as he walked to the side of the Resolute Desk towards the 48-inch, 50 State Gemstone globe that President Porter placed into the Oval Office.
"Two hundred thousand individuals, from Federal jobs to private jobs, were lost in my two years..." The President was acting erratically, perhaps this was his way of grieving?
"I appointed three female Justices on the highest court of the land, one a Latina, another the first female Chief Justice. Yet I am criticized for waging a War on Women. I fix the tax code, yet people accuse me of gutting the IRS. I fix the financial system so that the American people have more choice and easier access to the American Dream- yet I'm criticized for making our economy a ticking time bomb. I bring five million new jobs, with even more because of foreign trade, I brought peace to Yugoslavia, Kosovo, East Timor. South Sudan is now independent. More people than ever are literate and educated in America- with a funding mechanism to benefit those who fall too far behind the national standard. New Orleans isn't a complete mess."
President Rifenburg stays in place, looking at Afghanistan in particular, as the grandfather clock ticks onwards.
"What are my thanks? I get screwed over by such stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes! I know for a fact that I am a man born into original sin. I'm fully aware of the Ten Commandments. I raised my kids right, I served my country truly..." He walks over to the bust of the Statue of Liberty
"I was God's servant...yet I am lying on the ground. The colleagues around me are apparently too young, too dumb to realize what they do is wrong. With their belief that it is right, or that they know it is wrong, they do it anyways. I am told to not get angry without sinning, yet how can I when I am working against such feckless thugs?" Rifenburg continues, now directly talking to his Maker.
"Am I to believe that He is kind? That He is righteous? That He is love?" The grandfather clock keeps ticking, while we now are looking at each other.
"At this point, I do not care if anyone or anything is listening. I don't care if I'm remembered as the most incompetent President since Buchanan. I don't even care if I see Him in...three months. It sure is better than what I'm working with now." The President walked outside to the Portico.
"I need a bourbon. I need names for an Attorney General and a Special Investigator."
"Mr. President?" I ask as Rifenburg was opening the door.
"I only can say one thing about the other thing. Those who did not doubt, never truly believed."
I remember the President scoffed at that. I never did ask if he truly believed what I said. Perhaps he did.
- Excerpt of George Oglethorpe's The Long Way Back, 2017
President Rifenburg's rant was now three months old. To my knowledge, no one else knew of it. In all honesty, it was probably better that way. Yet, there was a gut feeling that bothered me. I checked my watch, reading 11:03 PM, EDT. Rifenburg usually went over on his speeches, so it didn't matter that much. Then, someone tapped my shoulder.
"Mr. Thouret, we have a situation."
"Yes? What is it?"
"There is a situation in Israel. Reports of explosions near the U.S. Embassy. We need the President notified.”
It was a very difficult few moments right there, with the President’s lead detail telling me that there is something going on in Israel. The irony was painful- Israeli-American relations was the exact topic that he was talking about to the ACU. There were discussions about moving the Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. We preferred Congress to pass a bill to fund the entire moving process, which included all the necessary upgrades. Yet- it was political theatre. All the money that we needed could be dipped from the State Department’s budget. Was a State Department trip to see Victoria Falls worth it?
A minute had passed since Special Agent Roane had told me about what had gone down in Tel-Aviv. The watch read 11:05 PM. With some mental math, it was 6:05 AM in Tel-Aviv. President Rifenburg was just about finished with his speech and was now on to toasting. Since then, there was another explosion, from another key ally of the U.S. The President was talking to that country's Prime Minister just last week. I make my way to the stage, running up to the side of the President.
"I do thank all of you for this tonight. It's one of those nights that make me think. If- if I can be President... I'm sorry one second."
"Mr. President, there's been an explosion in Tel-Aviv and London. Both Prime Ministers are missing. America's under attack."
He nods and I walk down. Unbeknownst to me, the Secret Service crashed the building.
"As I was saying. If I can be President, what worth is it if nothing good comes out of it? President Johnson once said: "What's the point of being President if you can't do what you know is right?" If you can't..."
I remember everything going in slow motion. I saw the President tearing up.
"...then I don't belong here at all."
We all stood in standing applause, yet I knew from the moment he stopped talking there was something wrong. Even when I got up, I heard something like a firecracker activating. The doors of the ballroom burst open as agents yelled to clear the room. When that happened, I was sure that it wasn't a ******* firecracker. Two bullets went across the room and onto the stage. The President was reeling and about to fall onto the floor. My mind raced with what to do. First, make sure that the President didn't completely fall. Second...we need to get a judge to Mountain Brook.
- Excerpts from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
Ewan McCarthy, circa 2013
I remember that night in 2008. Like many nights in D.C., it was cold and rainy. Yet it was unusual because it was still technically the Summer. Regardless, rainy it was.
Back then, I was a writer for a Bear station called WASH, based in D.C. That night... I'm sorry. That night was seriously heavy on me as I was such a fan of the President. He sort of reminds me of LBJ in the fact that so much went wrong for him. Did he have serious problems in his personal life and how he was in private? Sure, but he was someone who genuinely wanted what was best for our country.
I was at the Starbucks on K and 22nd. I've since forgotten my order, though the receipt is framed. Kate and I just finished up a shoot for a story about homelessness in D.C. We stopped in for a cup of coffee, though I still remember that my bags were packed with all the filming equipment. I remember looking out on the street beyond the roundabout between that corner and the GWU hospital. Sirens blared everywhere as what looked like a caravan of cars pulled up to the hospital. We said nothing as we threw away our coffees, grabbed the equipment, and gave chase to whatever was going on.
- Ewan McCarthy on The Night Washington Stood Still: Five Years On
Orin Melvin for Bear Breaking News, broadcast on July 7th, 2008
"Good evening, this is Breaking News with Bear. I'm Orin Melvin. I apologize for breaking into your regularly scheduled broadcasting, however, we must report that the President of the United States has been shot. Hot off the presses, we have multiple reports throughout Alexandria, Virginia around the headquarters of the American Conservative Union where President Rifenburg was giving a speech. We do not know what has gone on other than the President was in an area that...I'm sorry I have just been told that President Rifenburg is indeed in the President's motorcade. We will be bringing you to Ed Watson who is on a Bear News helicopter right now over Alexandria. Ed, tell me what you see...
Thank you, Ed, however, we have new information as to what exactly is happening in Alexandria. There were two, possibly three shots coming from inside the building. All that is known is that the President has been shot. Only time will tell. However, I can confirm that the President is en route to the hospital where he will receive urgent care.
We have word that the Vice President has been notified, however, it is unknown if the 25th Amendment will be invoked. However, I can assure you that it is highly and I mean highly unlikely that it will be invoked. Yet, if it is, that does not mean that Vice President Vissering will become President. Mind you, this has happened multiple times before without the death of the President. This is courtesy of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment. President Reagan invoked it in 1985 for a colonoscopy and President Porter invoked it in 1997 for surgery for a burst appendix. Yet, Section 1 is used when the President is either incapacitated, has resigned, or forcibly removed from office on account of conviction through impeachment. Section 4 is when the President is deemed unfit for office, while Section 2 allows the appointment of a Vice President. Tonight, there is no evidence of any of these sections to be invoked unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Tonight, I would rather our prayers to be with President Rifenburg, Vice President Vissering, and their families. Tonight, America stands still for them.
- Orin Melvin on the now-famous breaking news broadcast for Bear News
"The camera equipment was unzipped as Kate and I stood in the middle of the roundabout. The zipper was tied up a bit, so I was able to look up at the night sky as I was yanking on the zipper. Despite the pandemonium around me, D.C.'s nights looked beautiful in the overcast sky"
- Excerpt of Ewan McCarthy from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
"Thank you, Orin. As you can see, we have a mix of EMTs and what looks to be Rifenburg's motorcade. I'm sure that they have the situation under control. Right in front of the George Washington University Hospital, with the best doctors and nurses in D.C., not much can possibly go wro-"
- Ewan McCarthy on the scene of the George Washington University Hospital
"The air was crisp, yet cloudy. The reflection of the Moon was beautiful like a Claude Monet painting. The crest of the Moon was barely visible- not like it was on Friday. 40,000 feet above the Ozarks, two people are in a room on a modified 747. Officially, their location is classified, their origin is classified, and their destination is, naturally, classified. The fact that it exists is only to those fishing below. Two months ago was turkey hunting season, though the Alabama-native Vice President only knew for sure the hunting seasons in her state. It had been a while since the person next in line to the Presidency hadn't gone hunting for a very long time. The Lake of the Ozarks were obstructed by the clouds. It reminded her of a time nearly thirty years ago. She owned Buckeye Bill's Shooting Range all the way back in 1988, yet it would be through her work at a family law practice in Birmingham that she would make her name. It was close to bliss...yet she was offered an opportunity. A longtime member of the Alabama State Rifle and Pistol Association, they wanted to change with the times and select a female President. It took much convincing, but she would accept.
There was a knock on the door. While gazing into the window, she invited whomever it was in.
"Madam Vice President, we have the Cabinet's vote."
"This soon? I thought it would've taken longer."
"The written letter will take time, however, there is one thing that I must inform you."
"What would that be?"
The Secret Service agent and the Vice President gave pause. The clock ticked on as she turned her head towards the door.
"Ma'am...there has been...there's...there's been an explosion at- at the GWU Hospital. We're unsure of how many casualties."
The Alabaman Vice President would be visibly shaken. Sure she wanted to become President, heck every little girl that looks at a list of the Presidents and sees only males. Yet, she did not- not like this. She felt like throwing up at the thought of someone who has been such a good friend that has very likely crossed Death's door. She gave a quick prayer to Jesus as she told Agent Udall that she needed a moment. A minute later, she walked over to the room where Alabama Supreme Court Justice Michael Prescott and Second Gentleman Richard Vissering were sitting down.
"So...everyone's here?" The Vice President says, with a small press pool, White House photographers, and the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and her husband as an audience.
"Don't tell me that this isn't being recorded. I swear I will hand any of you my own ePhone. This is history." Everyone in the room chuckles.
"One thing though, it is a shame that we have the Supreme Court Chief Justices swear in the Presidents. I genuinely wish someone of the caliber as my mom, Melva Louise Dykes, or my dad, Bronson Dykes. My dad passed in 1995, five years before my mom. They gave me...so much. I would give the world if they could see their Cindy right now. That is why I have this Bible right here, a family heirloom that was passed on to them by a man from North Carolina. He was charismatic as much as he has been controversial, yet through one of his crusades, they were led to the Lord. I would rather have it be known that this book was what got me here, so it is only fitting that I'm using it for this...historic occasion."
Only a handful of people clapped, yet it ended as soon as Justice Prescott stood up.
"Madam Vice President, may we continue?"
"I...I don...." She coughs, as the attempt to push away her memories of the gravity of the situation failed.
"Yes, I am indeed prepared."
"Madam Vice President, if you would put your left hand on the Bible and your right hand to God."
She would do so.
"Madam Vice President, if you would repeat after me..."
The Vice President's mind just went to a serious thought. Should she add her maiden name with her legal name? Truman corrected Chief Justice Stone in 1945. Though Warren Burger used Carter's nickname. The legitimacy of her oncoming Presidency was already being questioned in her own mind. Was President Rifenburg actually dead?
"I, Cindy Anne Vissering, do solemnly swear..."
"I, Cindy Anne Vissering Dykes, do solemnly swear..." The Vice President would remember the sly smile that crept on his face. Vissering didn't use Dykes when she was inaugurated as Vice President, yet used it when she became President.
"That I will faithfully execute...the office of President of the United States...and will, to the best of my ability...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States..."
"That I will faithfully execute...the office of President of the United States...and will, to the best of my ability...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States..."
"So help me God."
"So help me God."
"Madam President...thank you, may God be with you...I...I mean America stands with you."
President Vissering acknowledged the Alabaman Chief Justice as she walked over to First Gentleman Richard Vissering.
"I would love to talk...but there are matters of national security..."
"Honey, don't worry...I'll stand by the Commander-in-chief." They embrace and kiss. Cindy Anne Vissering walks over to the head of the Secret Service detail.
"What do we know so far?"
"Well...I'm unsure of your opinion of FBI Director Corbyn is at the moment."
"Why? What happened?"
"You'll see. It's a few doors down."
- Excerpts from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
All she wanted was a shower and a good episode of House. Yet, as the person in charge of an agency whose effectiveness could easily go toe-to-toe with the Mossad, then many sleepless nights are usual. For Laura Nicolette Corbyn, that is the usual. She was able to get back home around 10 PM and was almost done with her shower at 11. Corbyn was watching a season 3 rerun of House when she got a call from the Chief of Staff. The call was about some incident in Alexandria. It was concerning, though she trusted and called the Deputy Director of the FBI to get on it. Then, the head of the President's Secret Service detail called for an attack in Alexandria. Very concerned, Corbyn made a judgment call and left for the Hoover building.
Director Corbyn was arguing over the phone with Attorney General Paulson over his decision to wait out what's going on. Corbyn was arguing against the Constitutionality of shutting down every airport, train station, and bus stop that sent planes, trains, and buses out of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. It was a difficult choice that the President made, not the Attorney General. AG Paulson argued that their jobs didn't matter- their duty to their country did. Corbyn wouldn't reply, instead slammed her phone and tossed it into the couch about ten feet away. It landed with an uncharacteristic thud. Sirens began to blare as Director Corbyn looked through every window to see where it came from. Her feet felt like they were jelly as she saw a bright ball of light all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue. Right beyond the roof of the White House, yellow and red flames emitted from what had to be GWU Hospital.
"Well ****" She says as she redials AG Paulson's number. FBI agents will work in tandem to ensure the security of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. She hung up and walked out to the hallway outside the office. She thought to herself about the ensuing manhunt that will take place for the next few hours.
"I need the Governor of Maryland, Virginia, the mayor of D.C., and the Administrator of the FAA!"
- Excerpts of Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
Throughout the next few hours, President Vissering regained control of the situation. Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. would be under a state of emergency (which would include a statewide and citywide curfew as well as a moratorium of leaving the state and District), with the approval of the new President. Senator van Moren of New York was running on becoming the first female President and in the morning, she would be the first Democrat to congratulate on her ascension to the Presidency. President Vissering would meet with now-former First Lady Megan Rifenburg, the new President would be visibly in tears with the widowed Mrs. Rifenburg. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph would encapsulate the moment.
Ewan McCarthy would become well known for urging Bear Breaking News to keep his broadcasting on the air. He would say that it wasn't to document the carnage but to ensure that regardless of what would happen, America was still open.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Steven McCall, pictured as Governor of West Virginia, 2017
"It would be safe to say that every high-level official in the U.S., U.K., and Israeli Governments were up that night in July. I, for one, was no exception. Through the night, acting Prime Minister MacMillan had worked with the Cabinet to ensure that there was someone in command. The fact that overnight America had their first female President wasn't mentioned until Vissering herself mentioned it. I believe that was seven in the morning or two A.M. back in D.C.
After everything died down..about Nine o'clock, acting Prime Minister MacMillan would mention to me something that would encourage me and a few others. A "special" procession would be made at the Queen's Guard's changing of the guard. I didn't much of it at first, though MacMillan couldn't stop saying that it was something I did not want to miss. FoA few minutes into the procession, I would see why. The English horns would play a very familiar song- to a drinking song once used by a special club in English pubs at the turn of the 19th Century. The Star Spangled Banner would play, which many in the crowd couldn't help but sing. Then, Hatikvah played. I couldn't help but think of all those who were lost in Tel Aviv, Washington, D.C., and in the very city that I was standing in. The entire ordeal brought tears to my eyes. There was only one way that it could be repaid. I called Secretary Bainbridge and told him what happened, plus an idea of my own."
- West Virginia Governor Steven McCall in an excerpt from Sea Change, 2009 by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum
President Vissering would give an address to the American people on the South Lawn of the White House, with a Marine, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard band that would play God Save the Queen, My Country 'Tis of Thee, and Hatikvah. Many consider President Vissering's speech to be the best of her Presidency- made in the face of an attack just twelve hours previously. Meanwhile, the Conservative government in the U.K. would elect acting Prime Minister as their leader. A Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the Major Ministry, MacMillan was appointed as the Deputy PM in a consolation prize after losing the Conservative leadership election in 2002. MacMillan had previously been known for his calming tone and unrivaled wit. Many noted the similarities with the new leaders of the U.S. and the U.K., going as far as to say that the Special Relationship (though controversial in the U.K.) was better than ever.
Israel, meanwhile, puts up a young, charismatic woman with Prime Minister Rivkah Arens. Prime Minister Arens was chosen by the Israeli Cabinet after the death of Daniel Rosenbaum (a distant relative of Charles Rosenbaum) in Tel-Aviv. Many consider the 7-7-7 Attacks to forge three individuals who lead their countries through terribly difficult times.
U.S. President Cindy Anne Vissering, 2008 Re-Election Advertisement
Prime Minister to Israel Rivkah Arens, circa 2014
U.K. Prime Minister Dylan MacMillan, then an ex-PM in 2018
Vissering, Arens, and MacMillan would lead their countries past the 7/7/7. Through it, the three would become good friends, despite their terms being quite varied. Prime Minister Arens would be thrown into a political Armageddon as the Likud Party lost their minds at the Prime Minister being martyred. A dangerous form of nationalism arose in Israel, yet it would be the 38-year-old Arens that pushed back on her party's hardline backbenchers. A biopic starring Natalie Portman would be made in 2015 regarding Arens' political struggles to keep Israel from going to war with literally every neighbor they had, including a backbench coup.
U.K. Prime Minister would see a far less bright fate, despite being hailed as a strong leader for Britain. Leading the charge for electoral reform and anti-government waste measures, MacMillan called for an election in 2008 that saw a massive swing for the Tories. During the first MacMillan Ministry, the deficit would be severely tackled, while electoral reform was brought with the Parliamentary Reform Act of 2008. MacMillan began a massive infrastructure reform that brought jobs to the U.K., as well as increased defence spending. This specific defence spending project would be implemented over multiple budgets. Dubbed Project Excalibur, it would be the prime legacy piece of Prime Minister's legacy. Portrayed as the foundation for the "fortress island," MacMillan would spend millions of dollars setting up a fully-functional nuclear deterrent system. A large scheme would be produced in places where the local economies had been slagging as well as historical placements of similar nuclear deterrent systems. The Arthur and Galahad Class Missiles and Lancelot Class Submarines would be purchased by multiple members of the Atlantic Alliance- as well as East Asian nations.
Prime Minister MacMillan would be praised by more internationalist Britons for his urging of peace in multiple areas. Yet his focus would not be completely on foreign policy. MacMillan would dedicate a large amount of his domestic policy to reforming education in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister MacMillan would dedicate his political capital towards reintroducing Grammar Schools and reintroducing the Assisted Places Scheme- a Thatcher-era policy which enraged Labour or Labour-leaning voters that were hoping for a nonpartisan MacMillan. Yet, praise would be given to MacMillan's attachment of physical health care with mental health care- stating in an address to the United Nations' headquarters in New York. (Since the Day of Fire Attacks, the building would be rebuilt into a less...squarish building, preferring a spiral-like building designed by a Danish architect (famously using a spinning pool of water as his idea) and constructed by Americans.)
Prime Minister MacMillan's fate, however, would be sealed when he decided to put forth a 2011 Referendum on Scottish Independence in order to appease the Scottish Tories. A strong supporter of the Union, MacMillan could only do so much to hold the country together. It went from bad to worse when the American President made a gaffe on live television that was construed by the Scottish "Yes" campaign as being in favor of Independence. While the Tory Government was criticized for its long leadership of the U.K. Government, many considered giving MacMillan the boot in favour of what looked like a far more populist New Labour movement. Scotland, by a close vote in U.K. standards of 51-49, voted Yes to Independence. MacMillan would resign as Prime Minister in favour of his Chancellor of the Exchequer Catherine Willoughby. The young Willoughby's struggle to hold together the Tory majority until 2012 would be the inspiration of two television series, a BBC original lead by Cate Blanchett (The Glass Cliff, 2014-2019) and an American-based Netflix original starring Maggie Q (Castle of Glass, 2016-2023). The major difference between the two television serials being the Maggie Q's character would be the Speaker of the House-turned-Minority Leader during an unstable period with a Washington filled with demagogues and statesmen, while Cate Blanchett's character would succeed a Prime Minister who was considered an embarrassment to the party and country. Interestingly, U.K. Prime Minister MacMillan was hired as an advisor for both U.K. and American series.
America, meanwhile, had their own serious problems. There were serious concerns as to the Constitutionality of the actions partaken by Director Corbyn and Attorney General Paulson in shutting down transportation to and from Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. President Vissering insisted that they did nothing wrong and acted fully within Constitutional bounds, yet James Terrus formed a Terrus Commission on the ordeal regardless. Considered one of the lesser points of his career, the North Dakota Senator hounded Ryan Paulson and Laura Corbyn for answers as to what they did. In a sense, the two were seen as martyrs acting in their best ability. 'They weren't bending the Constitution,' many argued, 'they were using it with what they knew.' Nothing solid was ever placed on Corbyn nor Paulson, though both would become household names throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign. In her Presidential memoirs, Vissering and Corbyn openly talked about whether the latter should be fired, to which the President stated that it was a sign of defeat. A case would be made in the D.C. Court of Appeals, to which it would be appealed to the Supreme Court. Somehow it was forgotten among the chaos of that year. To this day no one quite knows exactly whatever happened to it. As Democrats harangued the Vissering Administration, international troubles would be afoot. Where in particular? The Near East.
Cindy Anne Vissering had been a regular critic of the trade relationship the United States had with the People's Republic of China. Vissering was partially selected due to her working-class appeal and criticism of America's policy on all things regarding China. When Cindy Anne Vissering ascended to the Presidency, those relying on free trade between China and America began to seriously reconsider their investments. President Vissering gave multiple references to a "changing" policy on China. A China-America Dialogue was considered, though it would be canceled due to increased trade restrictions on the part of China. Steel and aluminum tariffs would be implemented. Former Senate Majority Leader Miriam Schultz would privately and publicly disagree with the President's new trade policy with China. In a rousing speech that garnered much applause from the NeoLiberal and Pro-Trade wings of both parties, Schultz condemned President Vissering's policies that were sure to hurt those whose jobs were existing because of Free Trade policies. China would respond with tariffs of their own. A serious trade crisis would be afoot, with the American working class taking center stage. Secretary of State Bainbridge would secretly meet with the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Liu would give a true account of what the Chinese government wanted.
"The demands list was simple, actually. While it's been years, I actually had to look back to the Rosenbaum's Sea Change to see what it was. There was one account that Thouret had forgotten about. China asked for the reinstatement of their position as the Most Favorable Nation in the WTO. When the extent of China's currency manipulation became clear in the past few years, President Rifenburg immediately acted in removing China from the aforementioned position. Yet, that, of course, wasn't the only thing the young President Liao had demanded. A former seaman from the Chinese navy, he likely understood what was at stake when he asked for the Seventh Fleet to be pulled back from the South China Sea. Thirdly, China demanded that trade regulations be lifted, in turn for greatly lessened trade tariffs by China. The entire situation made Vissering livid, as China had managed to earn the upper hand. In a classical response, she would state her willingness to discuss such matters, specifically in a summit hosted by the State of Hawaii. The semantics would be worked out, while President Vissering toiled at taking the better part of the press response. The agreement was a backstep, though it was a backstep in a way that the White House, including myself, worked every moment of what remained of the Presidency to be a win. The paper it was written on was evidence of a loss, yet we managed the Treaty of Honolulu to be the result of one of the great spin operations of all time."
- Rifenburg and Vissering White House Press Secretary George Oglethorpe in The Long Way Back
President Cindy Anne Vissering was desperate for some sort of policy win. She wasn't able to find one in the War on Terror, despite the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station was attacked in a coordinated plot by Pakistani-related terror cells. When it was revealed that sources of funding originated from close ties to the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, relations spiraled. Ambassador Ellen Jane Carver, bless her poor heart, did everything humanly possible to convince the President of Pakistan that the United States was in no mood for war against the country Carver had invested nearly half of her adult life to build better relations with. It didn't help that protestors began to surround the Islamabad embassy. The peaceful protest would be barely noticed by the desperate Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Problems, however, would arise when the protestors began to barricade themselves onto the fence. Despite the protestors were peaceful, they would soon turn violent with counter-protestors, consisting of pro-Americans and pro-Westerners, chained themselves to the fence and began to crowd the wall fo the embassy. Secretary Bainbridge would urge Ambassador Carver persisted, stating that it wasn't a problem at all. That was before the first rock was thrown. That was before the fateful animal leg was thrown into the increasingly irate crowd. That was before the Pakistan government ordered to disperse the protestors. Had the Ambassador not been there, it would've been classified as a police riot. Yet, the Ambassador was there- meaning that her insistence on staying in the confines of the multi-million dollar secure Embassy caused conflict. America, once again, caused needless pain. This was the final straw, according to many in the Middle East. Those in Islamabad would be far less forgiving or violent than the protests that rocked the Middle East. The protestors overcame the military police as hundreds pushed through the streets, towards the Embassy. Black Hawk helicopters would be seen flying over the capital, making the mob even more violent. The entire picture was reminiscent of Saigon for some and Operation Eagle Claw, for others. Ambassador Carver would meet once again with her family on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, having previously evacuated due to fears of a siege of the embassy. For a brief time in 2007 and for part of 2008, the United States of America would have formal relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, yet have no formal Embassy nor a formal Ambassador to take up the post. Carver was praised by American Conservatives for standing up for freedom, while she was thoroughly criticized by about everyone else for recklessly endangering lives and being a prime cause in the Pakistan Embassy Riot. Needless to say, it would be decades until U.S.-Pakistani relations would resemble what they were when Carver was the face of America when she was in Pakistan.
Former Ambassador to Pakistan Ellen Jane Carver, circa 2014
"Do I blame President Vissering for condemning and placing the blame on me? No, not really. I take responsibility for my part, there was only so much one could do when relations became so sour so quickly. No one ever said that Pakistan was completely lost to the West. I for one still hold hope for better relations. We lost a great ally through that year."
- Excerpt of former Ambassador Carver in Sea Change, by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum, 2009
President Vissering looked towards Congress for some sort of victory. A very surprising source would find that possible. Though in Congress for only eight years now, Elizabeth Bartlett would pursue her goals with ambition and action. A Democratic Congresswoman from Pennsylvania, Bartlett committed her career to mental health reform. Bartlett would pester fellow Democrat Rachel Andrews regarding this. Andrews would make mental health care a major part of her campaign as a clear result of Bartlett endorsing Andrews.
When Andrews' campaign was in its final throes, Bartlett had already managed to gain the audience of the President. While talks were ongoing with the North Koreans regarding nuclear missiles, mental health reform was far more lucrative of an idea. Mind you, while President Vissering was among the harshest critics of government waste, she did indeed have a much more soft tone regarding social programs. The Vissering White House worked swiftly in a bipartisan manner. The final result that would be introduced to the House of Representatives would include controversial positions. First of all, the bill would create a Vulnerable Peoples Administration, which would directly report to the Department of Health and Human Services. This VPA would raise awareness of mental health disorders through public service announcements and a fully-funded "MediCare-lite" program that largely outsources government care towards the states. President Vissering would fight an uphill battle with her party regarding this, especially with Progressives who believed the bill did not go far enough. The House of Representatives would pass the Vulne. The Vulnerable Peoples Act of 2008 by a margin of 220-215. The U.S. Senate would see a far more difficult fight. Cloture would be made, despite the ten hour-long fillibuster by Senator Ed Grant of Kansas. State Attorney General Tom Brewhill would severely mock the Senator for his grandiose, professorial tone in brutal ads that pushed the race into a competitive state. The final result would be a bipartisan victory. 55 Senators voted in the affirmative for the bill, ten Republicans voted for the bill, while eleven Democrats voted against the bill, either because it went too far or it went not far enough. Either way, the Vulnerable Peoples Act of 2008 would be the signature accomplishment of the Vissering Administration, despite it being foreshadowed by other acts that ultimately built off of the VPA of 2008.
VPA of 2008 architect and Representative Elizabeth Bartlett, D-Pennsylvania-1, 1999-2013
President Vissering was hardly set with domestic policy prior to the landmark health care legislation in the form of the Bartlett Bill. The nationally controversial yet Conservative acclaimed firebrand governor of Tennessee was considered a solid nominee and an even better candidate to rally the base. Thanks to suggestions from Chairman Hatfield and the recovering former President Rifenburg (who is now lucid and going through what is going to be a recovery that will take at least a year) Governor Parker would be nominated to become the next Vice President. Problems began to emerge with accusations of tax fraud and abuse of power as Governor. The North Dakotan Senator and Judiciary Committee Chairman James Terrus visibly irritated the Southron. The folksy demeanor gave an aura of arrogance, to which Chairman Terrus would quickly put it to an end. The resulting clash made for great television (among the most watched in C-SPAN history) yet it made for everything a President did not want in a nominee for the second most powerful person in the free world. President Vissering pulled the nomination on October 30th, 2007. The Governor's nomination didn't last a whole month. Governor Parker was sent back to Nashville, cursing the President's name along the way.
Former Vice President-designate Tennessee Governor David Parker, 1999-2007, picture circa 2007
"Internally, Cindy Anne Vissering was furious. She would never admit to such, at least not in public. "How dumb was I to pick that son of a *****? How dumb could I be?" She later would be quoted as saying. President Vissering, however, would find herself at a loss in terms of what to do in foreign affairs. The attempt at standing up to China failed, the evacuation of Ambassador Carver was a complete surrender of diplomacy and influence in the region, and talks with Israel and Palestine were going nowhere. A victory was severely needed, to say the least."
- Excerpt of Cecil Kim in Sea Change by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum, 2009
"By the time that the President asked me to serve as Vice President, the desperation the Administration had was enormous. Through the first few months of her being President, anyone could tell that she was very irritable. The reasons were quite obvious. Yet it was through that difficult period of her Presidency that she gave me the opportunity to become the Vice President of the United States. I took it as something more like a joke, yet it only hit me when I was standing next to the President in the Rose Garden that it finally added up. Vissering needed a change of focus, a pivot to Asia.
The simple fact is, I did lie, not only to my friend, the President, not only to Congress, or to America but to myself. I lied that my mental health did not have an effect on my ability to serve. The physical, however, said otherwise. The Senate vote would be 50-48, with two absent and Senator Ray Baudin of Arizona and Senator Ed Kensington of Florida approving of my nomination across the aisle. What about Senator Murphy? The Cajun Senator Murphy decided that it was far too much of a risk and voted down my nomination. It not only devastated myself, my family, but the President. I recall her immediate reaction wasn't one of rage, but one of sorrow. Everything the Republican Party built was falling apart."
- Excerpt of Cecil Kim in The Life and Times of a Korean-American, 2019
Former Vice Presidential nominee and Representative Cecil Kim, R-California-41, 2001-2007
"I was in the room with Cecil Kim and Cindy Anne Vissering when we watched the vote in the Senate. Director Fong and Secretary Bainbridge were in the room as well, the two discussing talking to North and South Korea if Kim was indeed the first Korean-American Vice President. The moment Senator Murphy voted Nay, Cindy Anne Vissering slouched into her seat. Senator Villaincourt of Maine voted in the affirmative, though, it was no use. The White House, however, was abuzz with the decision by the President. Charles Fong was to be the new Vice Presidential nominee. February concluded with a 99-0 vote for Fong."
- Excerpt of Jean Thouret in Sea Change by Charles and Aaron Rosenbaum, 2009
"I'm not sure how, but I was talked into it. I don't know why I accepted it, but I did."
- Vice President Charles Fong upon being asked on Late, Late Time by Seamus Baudin why he accepted his then-new position
Former U.S. Representative, former Republican Presidential nominee, former Director of Central Intelligence, Republican Vice President of the United States Charles Fong, circa 2008
March 16th, 2008 would see President Vissering visit Vietnam on the 40th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre. President Vissering, on the suggestion of Fong and Bainbridge, visited the Vietnamese President and offered forgiveness for the atrocities committed. It would be revealed thanks to Chief of Staff Thouret that he coordinated the entire event as a way of politicking Vietnam into an alliance. Vietnam would have none of it, with the offense being taken. This, however, would only be in private as it appeared to be a foreign policy win. The Democratic primaries were heating up as relations between North and South Korea cooled. President Vissering would offer a helping hand towards peace. Peace, however, would have to be hard-fought for the Korean peninsula. Discussions of a potential peace agreement stemmed even with North Korea's successful nuclear test in 2006. South Korea would consistently sue for peace. While Rifenburg had not intensively focused on the Peninsula, Vissering clearly had a different position.
When she ascended to the Presidency, one of Vissering's first actions was to install nuclear missiles in South Korea. Intermediate-range ballistic missiles would be claimed by the North Korean regime. President Vissering spoke in Seoul, dogging the regime on. She would see their response rather quickly- nuclear missile tests in the Sea of Japan. The Seventh Fleet would be placed in the Sea of Japan as a response. Many would remark that it was a miracle that it didn't cause a Third World War. China and Russia, meanwhile, stated that they would be on the side that did not strike first. Even more, pressure would be placed in the form of crippling economic sanctions that even America's allies considered rather harsh. North Korea was projected to be completely crippled in ten years if they were in fact put into place. China vetoed the measure as a permanent member of the National Security Council. The North Korean crisis would last for months, though it would be President Vissering that made the first move towards peace. March 25th, 2008, President Vissering, Vice President Fong, and Secretary of State Bainbridge would all land in Seoul as a surprise for both Koreas. Their request was simple as it was private: peace talks as soon as humanly possible. The brazen display of guts from the Vissering Administration is considered a factor in the request being considered, much less accepted. May 1st, 2008 would finally arrive with Vissering personally meeting North Korea's leader. Discussions went relatively well, with the procedural dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The Korean Deal would eventually become far more complex than simple dismantlement. A breakthrough would be made when a member of the United States delegation offhandedly mentioned the United States protecting North Korea with nuclear weapons. What was originally a joke became something much more- the United States offered military protection in return for a complete dismantlement of nuclear weapons and proper redistribution of foreign aid. This program would be under the supervision of United Nations inspectors. The plan somehow worked with President Vissering claiming victory. At home, North Korean hardliners felt that it wasn't such a great victory.
The United States also agreed that it was a remarkable feat, giving President Vissering a ten point bump in the polls and the slightest chance that the Republican Party can actually survive a truly bad map in the Senate, not to mention a daunting task to retain Midwestern, Southern, and Mid-Atlantic states that the Steadman-led Democratic caucus lead to victory.
The aforementioned terrible Senate map the GOP faced.
Alabama - Oliver Haylard - Despite close call in 2005 Special Election, Haylard is safe in his ruby-red seat, especially with Vissering’s home state advantage.
Alaska - Jackie Easley - After facing a very difficult primary challenge, Easley is at the weakest position of her career against state senator Adrian Richardson.
Arkansas - Robert Murphy - Murphy is a Blue Dog Democrat in a state that feels made for him. He’s a lost cause for Republicans.
Colorado - Samuel Garcia - The Latino war veteran-turned-Senator has seen a serious challenge to his re-election in the form of Governor Joe Ritter in a true battle royale with the expected high turnout.
Delaware - Joan Baudin - Despite being a member of the powerful Baudin Family, the black sheep of the New York family is likely to be beaten by young Congressman Moriera, though Baudin has a slight chance of pulling it off.
Georgia - Ari Goodman - Ari Goodman is a relic of the Zell Miller Georgia Democrats- though Grace Hollingsworth is proving to be a strong candidate.
Idaho - Igor Bagration-Mukharanskii - Senator Mukharanskii is a Russian-American favorite son of his state.
Illinois - Malcolm Keane - Senator Keane is a popular, well-liked Democrat in a Democrat-favoring state.
Iowa - Aaron Jacobson - Senator Jacobson is retiring after four decades in politics, three of those in the U.S. Senate. Teacher-turned-Congressman Steven Fisher is a Progressive Democrat running a tight race against Ames Mayor Joel White, the son of former Speaker John White.
Kansas - Ed Grant - Senator Grant is a Senator with lukewarm approvals and has waded into a controversy that has given Tom Brewhilll a chance of victory in the state.
Kentucky - Duval Baudin - Senator Duval Baudin has garnered a similar reputation to Arkansan Robert Murphy. A popular Coal Democrat in a Conservative state, Baudin is the heavy favorite in an evolving state.
Louisiana - Hugh Chambrovich - A populist Republican and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Chambrovich is fighting for his political future and his high rank in Republican leadership against thirty-eight-year-old and accomplished New Orleans Mayor Blanche Matthau.
Maine - Mary Holbert - Former Governor and longtime Senator, Mary Holbert are considered to be one of the two “Maine Daughters” though she is in the fight of her political life as Congresswoman Sharon Bowen is perhaps the strongest candidate the DSCC recruited this cycle.
Massachusetts - Emily Sudworth - A popular, Progressive-populist Senator from a deeply Democratic state with no real Republican presence. It is noted that Sudworth could become a future Vice President or Cabinet member in a Democratic Administration.
Michigan - Edward Rose - Senator Rose is retiring this year to run for President as widely renowned Civil Rights attorney Titus Storm is running for Senate against a strong candidate in National Security Adviser Jack Terrus.
Minnesota - Peaches Grantham - Ever since her election to the U.S. Senate in 2002, Senator Grantham has become a highly controversial Senator that is amazingly stayed controversial within Minnesota. Well-known in Conservative circles, Grantham is headed for almost assured defeat. Renowned microbiologist and Professor Dex Elkins have criticized her as a “stain on American history” for her incessant rants and childish behavior on the floor of the Senate.
Mississippi - Dickie Williams - Senator Williams is a popular, ultra-Conservative Senator that has garnered extreme irritation among pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, pro-legalized marijuana campaigns.
Montana - Jacob Gustafson - Senator Gustafson is an immensely popular Senator facing off young, charismatic Congressman Adam Pike. A battle is likely emerging, though Gustafson has the edge with his “favorite son” advantage.
Nebraska - Rachel Messina - Senator Messina is a controversial Senator that has produced draconian economic reforms that would make Ayn Rand proud. However, the Doctor-turned-Senator has focused her efforts on healthcare reform and entitlement expansions...bold strategy, Senator, let’s see if it pays off for you. Absalom Compson is working for a long-shot bid for the Senate that has seen some traction.
New Hampshire - Andrea Calhoun - Despite four years after her run for the Presidency, Senator Calhoun is struggling to keep her approvals inflated. Regardless, with proper investment by the DSCC, Calhoun looks to not have much of a problem pulling off a tight victory a third time in a row.
New Mexico - Michael Brenninger - Bren, as he is affectionately known in the Land of Enchantment, is a popular Democrat and former law clerk for Thurgood Marshall. A through-and-through bleeding heart Liberal, Bren is likely on the path for a hold against moderate Republican Doña Anna County commissioner Diego Zamora.
New York - Warren Ressler - A popular, charismatic Democrat in a Democratic state. Nothing more to summarize.
New Jersey - Robert Pagnotto - Senator Pagnotto was elected due to a serious scandal from the previous Democrat to hold the seat. Max Freeman, a charismatic corruption-busting Mayor of Newark, is considered to be a far more of an ideological fit than the moderate Rockefeller Republican.
North Carolina - Tim Appleton - Senator Appleton is a libertarian Republican in a state that rarely has patience at all for libertarians. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman John Julius Gurley is an all-star charismatic and populist Progressive that is likely to defeat the relatively unpopular Senator.
Oklahoma - Linda Abbott - Senator Abbott is one of two Senators (the other being fellow Conservative Carly Martinez) that is considered to be the “Oklahoma Sisters.” Both are popular Conservatives and considered to eventually make a run for the White House if a Democrat wins, though Senator Abbott, in particular, has enjoyed her clout as a Senator.
Oregon - Miriam Schultz - Ever since her filibuster against the Vissering Tariffs, Schultz has garnered a second wind for her political career. Prominent Congressman Joseph Liang is giving Schultz what looks to be the final election of her career- if she retires after this next term that is.
Rhode Island - Anya Zaccaro-Garibaldi - Senator Zaccaro-Garibaldi has announced her intention to retire. Professor John Dussault is a very young, charismatic Brown University Professor that is very likely to win the Democratic-favored state.
South Carolina - P.J. Singh - Senator Singh is a popular Conservative Senator that is very likely to deliver a re-election to the first-term Senator.
South Dakota - David Walsh - A popular Senator in a Republican state that is highly unlikely to elect a Democrat unless something goes severely wrong for Walsh.
Tennessee - Alex Robinson - A relatively unremarkable incumbent Republican Senator that is facing off a strong Democratic Governor. With help from the NRSC, Robinson will likely pull this off.
Texas - Dorothy Thyne - Senator Thyne is a pro-energy reform Republican that has garnered a niche following throughout Texas. Despite Democratic dreams of coming close to winning statewide elections again, those days have likely passed.
Virginia - Sam Ashcroft - A widow that picked up her husband’s Senate campaign, Senator Ashcroft has made her voice known as an independent voice and a true policymaker in terms of economic reform. The Senator is likely to lose re-election, though the Senator has recently flushed out her old campaign staff as the campaign comes closer to November.
West Virginia - Stetson Webb - Senator Webb has been rumored to be a potential Vice Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. If so, it is likely that popular state Attorney General Jacqueline Redford would succeed Webb.
The Montana Senate race was the one that probably won the Senate Democrats' caucus from completely clearing 60 seats. The Gustafson Scandal would explode in the face of the Democratic Party as a whole. Senate Majority Leader Gustafson, according to a scathing article by The Pennsylvania Avenue Journal, paid hush money and arranged a mansion in Florida for a former staffer that the recently-widowed Senator had intimate relations with. The confirmation that Senator Gustafson was indeed a bisexual ripped apart the political world. Many Progressive Democrats ridiculed Gustafson for not being honest with himself, while centrist Democrats and Presidential candidates generally avoided the topic. As for the Republican Party, Gerald Hatfield practically opened up champagne bottles in his office when he heard the news. Congressman Adam Pike, however, would get the entire scandal wrong, accusing Gustafson of infidelity while the Montana Senator was still a married man. This misstep is what is considered to doom Congressman Pike's chances. As the campaign rolled on, Illinois attorney Nick O'Malley would be appointed to investigate the case. O'Malley would announce his findings in mid-October in a much-needed boost for not only Gustafson but for the Democratic party. While Gustafson may very well have funneled money into the former staffer's account, there was no physical evidence of a money transfer. Whatever else would come of it would be hearsay.
The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee would come and leave, with Progressives and centrist Democrats alike cheering on the new Democratic ticket. Yet it would be the Republicans that saw even more drama. Deciding to leave the new Vice President up to the Republican delegates in an effort to "spice up" the RNC in Nashville, President Vissering would eventually regret such a decision. The Republican delegates immediately surrounded Senate Republican leader Hugh Chambrovich, though after declining, they would be in favor of Secretary of State Bainbridge for his participation in the Korea talks. Three Rounds of voting would set the Republicans into supporting either pro-Free Trade Oregon Senator Miriam Schultz, Libertarian Alaskan Congressman Tim Barker, and Secretary of State Bainbridge. While Senator Samuel Garcia was mentioned by President Vissering and Chairman Hatfield as a potential compromise candidate, Garcia would formally decline on the Convention floor. The Republicans were getting desperate, with the Fourth Ballot incoming. The split between the Chairman and the President would begin to grow as delegates became anxious. One name would float, and eventually rise amongst the rest. A potential Senate leader and Ohioan, the Senator had a long, Conservative voting record and a large amount of experience in Federal and state politics.
Former Ohio Attorney General and U.S. Senator Gerhard Hoffmann (Since 2002)
Vissering/Hoffmann it would be. The Democratic ticket would roundly mock the Republican party for nominating an "old, white ticket" that wouldn't change Washington, nor would it bring anything new to the table. Hoffmann, on the other hand, brought fairly original Conservative policies, though they would largely be enwrapped in old school "street fighter" tactics. Hoffmann would find himself able to stand up against what some considered extreme positions, though Hoffmann was a far more pragmatic type. While never formally joining the Vissering Administration, the President's staff treated the Ohioan as one of their own. To a degree, they were cut of the same cloth.
Two more events truly galvanized both bases in equally tragic ways. Friday, September 12th, 2008 would be a day that many would remember in Kentucky. Senator Duval Baudin would be visiting Bowling Green, Kentucky, coincidentally, Senators van Moren and Webb would be as well. The three candidates would hold a roundtable at Western Kentucky University. At 9:42 AM, Central Daylight Time, Presidential candidate Julie van Moren would be notified by the Secret Service that a bomb had been discovered on the campus and they needed to immediately evacuate the University. Three minutes later, an explosion would ripple throughout the city of Bowling Green. Then a second would hit, then a third, then a fourth. Pipe bombs, placed strategically in the Pearce Ford Tower, was intended to topple the building, or at least trap those residing inside. The Bowling Green Fire Department would have to be blocked off at the scene when the entire university locked down for an active shooter drill. The entire campus would be a mix of pandemonium and confusion as Secret Service unsheathed their own pistols and began shooting into the air so that the students would calm down. After two hours of confusion, everyone would finally calm. The scene would turn to emotional calamity, though Senator van Moren and Senator Webb would be safe. A fire broke out in the Pearce Ford Tower, with multiple students and teachers running into the building, many carrying unconscious students out. The Bowling Green Massacre, as it would be colloquially known, would be a personal turning point for not just the two candidates directly involved, but for the country. Not since the 1927 Bath School Disaster had America seen such senseless destruction at a place of learning. For many, the jingoism of the early 2000s looked like it was going to have a revival. FBI Director Laura Corbyn and Attorney General Ryan Paulson would initiate the largest manhunt in American History. Twenty-two-year-old Kevin Edwards McCollough would nearly escape the country, had it been for Nevada Attorney General Francesca Diaz-Cortez.
29, 58 and 20, 93. 29 deaths in the tower, 20 deaths in the stampede succeeding it, with 58 and 93 life-threatening injuries, respectively. Those were the statistics that resounded after the Bowling Green Massacre. It was a tragedy that, until a week in its aftermath, didn't surpass the toll from the Bath School Disaster- until it did. As terrible a day that it was, it saw the best in Human, but most of all American spirit. America truly came together during that time...that is until alumni and students from WKU spoke out against the NRA. The resulting peaceful protests drew a line directly through the heart and soul of America. Does America pass stricter gun and weapon laws, or does it arm teachers? When protests began to encircle the White House, President Vissering spoke out against those who called for an assault weapons ban. Vissering's approval ratings plummeted as Democrats and Republicans divided amongst themselves whether or not to support these protesting students. For some, the shoe was on the other foot. One senator speculated that it was "this next generation's turn" to decide national policy.
President Vissering plunged in the polls as September closed. Senator Hoffmann would quietly speculate whether or not to step aside for Charles Fong to run for Vice President. Polls showed a very divided country on school protection, they were united by about 55 percent against President Vissering. The Democrats might have won their victory through blood and fire. Yet the narrative would be challenged after October. President Vissering endured the intense questioning from the American public and Senator van Moren. The First Presidential Debate, held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would see President Vissering be roundly defeated by Senator Julie van Moren. President Vissering would struggle to land punches as van Moren roasted the President's record on domestic and economic policy. The Vice Presidential debate, held at St. Anselm College in would be terrible for Senator Hoffmann on television, while the young Senator Webb continued the Democrat-led roast. The Second Presidential Debate held at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona would see a major rout for the incumbent President. The Comeback Queen, as she would be dubbed, took the fight to van Moren- staying on the defensive only when questioned by the Bear News moderators. The next day, on October 8th, 2008, President Vissering made a speech focusing on preferring a far more...pro-Human Rights doctrine than that which Vissering had acted on. While Israel-Palestine Talks were ongoing, the President had much hope.
"Today, I ask for your support and your vote in establishing a new era in World History. This new chapter will be one that America, as a Diplomat of Democracy, stands for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the discouraged. Regardless of what the Press, The Democrats, or the world may say: America stands for Liberty, Justice, and Security. Thank you, Phoenix!"
*explosions can be heard as the Secret Service rush towards the President*
"Get down! Get down!"
These hopes would be dashed by the Phoenix Attacks. While it was a coincidence that van Moren was at the same location as Kevin Edwards McCollough, it would be a Palestinian terror organization that attacked Phoenix. Davoud al-Abed, Abdul al-Saleem, Musa al-Saleem, and Ihsan al-Basa would be linked to a pro-Palestine terror group. President Vissering would be very well alive. The explosions occurred at Phoenix Sky Harbor, where President Vissering was expected to be at that time. A massive traffic jam caused by the President still being there was one major cause of saving the President's life. In a Rose Garden speech, she would condemn the "truly dark, evil that caused those young men to take their lives in the cause their extremist views." Vissering would vow that "As Phoenix rises, so will America. Today, we will rise to face the challenges of our uncertain present." A hashtag would be used for the Vissering White House Twitter account: #PhoenixWillRise. This would greatly impact the social media response to many future tragedies. Through the tragedy of the Phoenix Attacks, President Vissering once again did what she is attributed to doing best- being the comfort America needs in tragedy and the defender that it deserves.
"President Cindy Anne Vissering would be known as the "emergency President." This title originally landed at the feet of Sutherland and Rifenburg, though it would be Vissering that had her Presidency surrounded by trauma after trauma. America endured the worst crises, the most attacks, and the worst pitfalls America had seen. Vissering would share what the newly-recovering President Rifenburg had. Where the Californian President endured scandals that could have been avoided, the domestic and international terror that America endured was most likely unavoidable under Vissering. Cindy Anne Vissering found a worthy challenger in what would become the juggernaut of American Politics: Julie van Moren."
- White House Chief of Staff Jean Thouret in The 2000s: Brave New World, 2015
The Third Presidential Debate would see a far more somber President Vissering, yet one that looked like they were joyful on the inside. After a year of a brutal Presidency, the Alabaman President would be okay with handing the keys of the White House to Julie van Moren. The debate would be a clash of ideologies, to which America was largely undecided on which the victor was. Vissering and van Moren's camps were especially certain that their respective candidate won, of course. The final weeks of the campaign would see Vissering close the polling gap. The undecided vote would grow larger and larger as Election Day grew closer and closer. The undecideds would partially swing towards the Libertarians and some towards the Greens. Yet the country as a whole wanted something new.
Senator Julianna van Moren, D-New York/Senator Stetson Webb, D-West Virginia: 71,047,451, popular votes, 53.72%, 349 electoral votes
President Cindy Anne Vissering, R-Alabama/Senator Gerhard Hoffmann, R-Ohio: 59,925,795 popular votes, 45.31%, 189 electoral votes
Various other candidates: 23,409,156 popular votes, 1.49%, 0 electoral votes
DNC: 52 +11 63 DNC HOLDS SENATE √
GOP: 47 -11 36
DNC: 221 +33 254 DNC HOLDS HOUSE √
GOP: 214 -33 181
President Julie van Moren, D-New York, January 20th, 2009
Vice President Stetson Webb, D-West Virginia, January 20th, 2009
Secretary of State ((for the next update))
Secretary of Treasury Ed Kensington, D-Florida, February 12th, 2009
Secretary of Defense Richard Hollingbrooke, D-North Carolina, January 20th, 2009
Attorney General Curtis James, D-Mississippi, January 20th, 2009
Secretary of Interior Aretha Roosevelt, D-Texas, January 29th, 2009
Secretary of Agriculture Zachary Allen Kogan, D-Washington, January 29th, 2009
Secretary of Commerce Michael Bond, R-California, January 29th, 2009
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sean Brady, D-Massachusetts, January 12th, 2009
Secretary of Urban and Rural Development Lane Thomas, D-Colorado, February 1st, 2009
Secretary of Infrastructure Del Stewart, D-Maryland, February 9th, 2009
Secretary of Energy Susan Hama, D-Missouri, January 20th, 2009
Secretary of Education, Elaine Mitchell, D-Wisconsin, January 10th, 2009
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Elaine Corsetti, D-California, January 10th, 2009
National Security Advisor Josh Jahnson, D-Washington, January 20th, 2009
Deputy National Security Advisor Emilia Brookes, D-Colorado, January 20th, 2009
Administrator of the Homeland Security Agency Pat DeLauro, D-California, March 1st, 2009
White House Chief of Staff Alex Mulcahey, D-Georgia, January 20th, 2009
White House Counsel Marty Grunman, D-Illinois, January 20th, 2009
Director of Central Intelligence John David Krol, Georgia, March 30th, 2008
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laura Corbyn, Colorado, February 21st, 2005
14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve System Dick Olson, Kansas, February 1st, 2006-
Director of the Office of Management and Budget John DuBois, D-New York, January 15th, 2009
U.S. Trade Representative Harvey Newton, D-Minnesota, March 1st, 2009
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations James A. Rodriguez, D-Florida, January 20th, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Bart Jefferson, D-Nevada, 2001-
Senate Majority Whip Geoff Baudin, D-New York, 2005-
President Pro Tempore Jacqueline Easley, D-Alaska, 1983-
57th Speaker of the House Barry Steadman, D-WI-4, 1997-
House Majority Leader Santiago Vega, D-NM-2, 1999-
House Majority Whip Chloe Frémont, D-FL-12, 2001-
Senate Minority Leader Sam Ashcroft, R-Virginia, 2003-
Senate Minority Whip Bartholomew Matherson, R-Wyoming, 1991-
House Minority Leader Kim Hoynes, R-NH-1, 1997-
House Minority Whip Paul Roberts, R-OH-1, 2001-
Chair of the Republican National Committee Gerald Hatfield, 2007-, Senator from New Hampshire, 1999-
Chair of the Democratic National Committee April Robinson, 2007-, Former White House Chief of Staff, 2001-2005