2054, Part IV: A Nation Divided| Trending Viral hub

Wisecarver crossed the threshold. “Good morning, Mr. President.” He nodded slightly. Under his arm he carried a single folder. “Good morning, Trent.” Smith instructed Wisecarver to sit with him on the couch while Hunt and Hendrickson sat opposite. As they settled in, Julia caught Wisecarver looking at the half-dozen other folders spread out on the coffee table, as if he were sizing up the competition. The president cleared his throat. “As you all know, President Wisecarver believes that a unity government, in which I would select a vice president from his party, would be best for our country…”

Julia felt her godfather shift in his seat, as if he couldn’t bear the thought that Wisecarver’s interest in the matter had something to do with the country and not with his own naked ambition. As the president spoke, Wisecarver looked around the room and scanned the walls. As Speaker, he had been in the Oval Office many times before as a guest of President Castro, but he seemed to be taking it all in for the first time, as if he were rearranging the furniture in his imagination and literally measuring the curtains.

Smith finished. It was Wisecarver’s turn to speak: “With the loss of President Castro, our country has gone through a significant trauma. Now is the time to heal. The formation of a unity government is an important first step in that healing process. People are in the streets telling us this. We cannot afford to ignore them any longer. Really, we have little choice in the matter. “Either we heal together or we separate.”

“Is that a suggestion?” -Hendrickson asked. “Or an ultimatum?”

“Is a reality, Smut.” Wisecarver looked at the folders on the table. “If you choose one of those candidates, you are tying my hands.”

“Tie your hands how?” Hendrickson leaned forward until he was sitting on the edge of the couch.

“Well, for starters, they “I’m not coming home anytime soon,” and Wisecarver pointed out the window toward the camp. “We must also consider the commission investigating the death of President Castro, a process that could be prolonged, depending on who we appoint in Congress to lead it. If you need more reasons than those two, I could continue.”

“That will not be necessary,” the president told Wisecarver. He turned to Hendrickson with the look of a child pleading with an overly protective parent. He couldn’t sustain this level of conflict, the protests across the country, the machinations of his political rivals. Like any artist, Smith cared deeply about what other people thought of him and couldn’t tolerate being hated, or at least to that extent. He had all the need for a politician without any cunning. He was doomed.

Julia Hunt could see her godfather reconsidering what Wisecarver offered him. A unity government would reduce the intensity of the current crisis, at least in the short term. In the long run, elevating a Truther could prove to be a shrewd move. It would spread Wisecarver’s power within the party. Furthermore, depending on who that person was, having stable leadership (at least firmer than Smith’s) could help stabilize the country, or at least prevent it from tearing apart, to use Wisecarver’s words. But it all depended on who he proposed to.

Hendrickson asked for the name.

Wisecarver walked over to the coffee table and handed him the folder he had brought, with his due diligence pages. Julia Hunt leaned over her godfather’s shoulder as he opened it. Of course, thought. On the first page he glimpsed the official portrait of Senator Nat Shriver.


COMING SOON

2054Part V: From Tokyo with love
“Had this all been planned? Had his life become a game in which everyone knew the rules except him?


Of 2054: The novel, by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis, USN, to be published March 12, 2024 by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2024 by Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis.

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