West Wing - Senior Staff
The Senior Staff
Monday Morning 8:00a.m. -White House lobby
Ezra maneuvered his way though the busy lobby, barely taking notice of the crowds of tourists snapping photos of the art on the walls. After a year in the White House as the President’s Press Secretary, he was used to the security and tourists. As he moved past the security detail, toward the bullpen, he could feel the tension build up in the air. This part of the White House was used for business, not for show. He nearly made into his office when Josiah yelled out his name. That was never a good sign.
“Damn, and it not even 8:00 yet. Josiah, what could be so important that I can’t put down my coffee? The President was at Camp David for the whole weekend. Buck promised to stay out of trouble. No major news stories happened over the weekend. Vin and Nathan are working on the State of Union for the moment and, last time I checked, we hadn’t declared war against Canada,” Ezra mumbled to himself as he walked to the director of communication office.
Josiah Sanchez put down his newspaper as Ezra sat down in the visitor chair. “Have you read the Post today? There is an interesting article on the second page by Mary Travis. I quote, ‘the President was antagonistic toward the press questions on the use of the military in humanitarian missions.’ This is not the kind of press we need now. The state of the Union is only two weeks away. We need to get the issues out there, not the President attitude. We need to woo the press now.”
“So you want me to spin this?” an eyebrow raised with a slight smirked. “I hate to break it to you Mr. Sanchez, but let’s just admit it, our esteemed leader is not Mr. Warm and Fuzzy. Being tough and bullhead on the issues that matter got him elected. I will mention something in the briefing that the President showed concern. How about ‘strength when questioned’? Now what else is going on?”
Josiah was about to answer the question when Bonnie knock on the door. “Sorry guys it time for the staff meeting. Here’s today’s schedule. Josiah, you have a 9:00 with Senator Thomas, and 11:00 with Shaffer. Nathan wants to talk to you about the speech at some point so you’ll have to squeeze him in if you can.”
As the two walked out of the office a tall African –American man joined them. “Nathan, how is the speech going? I need a rough copy to go over with the minority leader. They want us to cut out the section on senior prescriptions.”
Nathan groaned. ”I spend all last night on it, and still it not quite right. I keep hitting a wall. Vin now wants to add a ban on oil drilling in federal lands in Alaska.”
“That not going to happen. Senator Richardson wants to open the lands for drilling, and he has the support of powerful allies in both houses.” Ezra remarked as he walked into the Chief of Staff office.
“Margaret! Have you seen where the memo is at?” Buck Wilmington, the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States yelled out without looking up.
Margaret walked in with the guys following her. “I’m not a mind reader. Which memo do you want? I typed up six yesterday, received ten this morning, and read four in the past hour. You have to be more specific. You have senior staff now.”
“Forget it. Sorry,” he said as she rolled her eyes, and turned to leave. ”Where’s Vin?” At that moment, a dark-haired, blue-eyed man walked in. Nodding an apology to his boss, he sat down on the couch.
“O.K., now we are all here, let’s gets started. First, Ezra, we need to float an idea in briefing on the Hate Crimes Act. Mention, but don’t push, and measure the reaction. I talked to the President last night and he wants to move it up in the State of Union. Nathan,” Buck turns his attention to the man writing furiously on his ever-present legal pad. “Nathan!”
“Huh? Sorry. I had an idea. I want to write it down before I forget it. What do you need?”
“No problem. You and Josiah need to be working the speech. Get with the minority leadership. They have concerns over some sections. It’s looking like we may need to comprise in some areas.”
“What areas?” Nathan’s usually mild tone started to take on a noticeably sharper tone. He was a man of high principles. As the senior speechwriter, his words helped to shape policy for the White House. He hated it went others told him what to say, and how to say it. He realized in Washington, to get things done, one sometimes needed to comprise with the other side to move forward. However, with each comprise, he felt as if he was taking one step back for every two steps forward they go.
“Don’t worry Nate, sometimes you need to bend a little to gain a lot.” Buck tried to smooth Nathan ruffled feathers.
“And sometimes all you get is your ass hanging in the wind,” Vin stated. “I’m taking a meeting with Richardson and his pals in two hours. Guess what they want to talk about? Oil drilling in Alaska, Buck. No way should we comprise on that.” The quiet Deputy Chief of Staff was slowly building a head of stream into his speech.
“Oh boy, here we go again. Vin is going to do his impression of a pit bull.“ Buck rolled his eyes. ”Vin calm down. I know that the environment is important to you, hell, it was your work on Global Environmental Protection Law Center that bought you here, but you need to keep your cool on this. Ninety nine percent of the time, you are most level head guy here. Don’t even try it, Ez.”
Buck shot a look to Ezra who started to open his mouth to protest. Buck looked down at his notes and spoke. “Richardson is up to something; I don’t know what, but something. So, I need you to go, be nice and find out what he’s up to. Now to other matters, it seems that Vin needs to do something to calm him down, so I’m giving him a project.”
Hearing a groan in one chair and suppressed snorts in the others, he continued, ”The President needs another personal aide, you know someone to hold the briefcases, take notes, and run errands, that kind of thing. Well guess who’s going to do the interviews?”
Buck looks over his notes, searching for a piece of paper. The men across from him smiled in relief, relieved it wasn’t going to be them who’d have hire a guy for the President. The President had already been though three aides this year. It wasn’t that he was mean. He was just tough and, well, as Ezra frankly once put it, ‘Not Mr. McSmileyFeelGood‘. The President was fair, but a bit intimidating.
”Margaret! Have you seen the thing with the name on it?”
Margaret walk in to the office. ”Buck, I thought we went over this with the memo. I’m not a mind reader. The schedule for the interviews is on your desk. There’s just one today. His name is John D Dunne, prefers JD. From his file, he graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with degree in Political Science and minor in Criminal Justice. His mother was a cop in Boston killed in the line of duty. He’s young, energetic and, if you hire him, the office pool has him lasting three weeks before he’s running as fast as he can out of the door. You guys have a tendency to scare people, a good thing if you want to scare republicans; it’s a bad thing if it’s the staff.” Margaret handed the schedule to Buck and walked out.
“I wonder sometimes why I keep her on. O.K., that’s it for now. I have to see the President, and then go to a budget meeting. Let’s meet back here at five.”
The group stood and filed out. Buck wiped his face with his hand. It was only 8:30 in the morning, but he had been in the office since six. A vast difference from where he had started out twenty years ago as a young Navy Seal, who met a man with big dreams to change the world. Buck got up from his chair, shaking his head. There been bad times along with the good, but he wouldn’t trade his place with anyone. Buck knocked once on the heavy oak door, and entered the office that so many great men once worked.
“Good morning, Mr. President. How are you today?” He asked, walking over the presidential seal on the floor to his oldest friend.
“Fine, Buck.” President Larabee looked up from a folder of papers. “What’s next for the day?”
The end maybe.