Better Dishonor than… (political ficlet)

This is a political piece of fiction, with a touch of fantasy/sf.

Better Dishonor than…
The Night of August 24, 2008
“Who, what…” Senator McCain said, as a figure from nowhere stepped out of the mist. McCain looked at the shape warily. A shiver involuntarily ran down his spine.
“I’m dreaming”, McCain thought. Lately his dreams had been of the Presidential race, and whom he would pick for his Vice Presidential Candidate. Although he was not energetic and exciting, Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota was a solid choice. He couldn’t pick Lieberman or Ridge like he wanted to, because the fundamentalists would have a field day with a pro-lifer, but Pawlenty was religious enough to avoid a revolt, and hell, the convention was *in* St. Paul this year. It might even give him a reasonable shot at grabbing the North Star State…
“Listen!” the man’s voice interrupted McCain’s dream logic. As he came into view, McCain could see the figure was he. The figure was a couple of years older and definitely showing it, but clearly the man facing him was himself, John Sidney McCain III.
“You’re me.” The Younger McCain felt no need to beat around the bush. In his mind, he wondered if this is how he would look after time spent in the Presidency.
“Yes. Don’t ask how I am here. But I am here to tell you what is going to happen and what you have to do.” The Older McCain said. “Just shut up and listen.”
The Younger McCain could be pugnacious, but this was himself he was talking to, and it was a dream, anyway. So he did as he was bidden. McCain shut up and nodded curtly, once.
The Older McCain waved a hand, stiffly, at the younger man’s acquiescence. “Good.”
“This is what happened.” The older man continued “You picked Pawlenty. It’s not good enough. You ran a relatively clean campaign on the issues. Issues don’t work this year, John. Our base doesn’t get enough red meat to turn out in any substantial numbers. Obama wins 302 electoral votes.”
“I’d rather be right than President.” The Younger McCain quoted.
“I said, shut up and listen.” The Older McCain snapped angrily. The Younger McCain could see the eyes of his older counterpart bear down upon him as he continued. “April 7, 2009. President Obama is visiting Savannah, Georgia. Unbeknownst to him, a tramp cargo ship from Pakistan has steamed into port. Its cargo, a nuclear device liberated from Russian stockpiles, detonates before it can be searched and stopped. Sixty nine thousand one hundred and eighty seven people die, including the President, the Mayor of Savannah and Governor Sanford. The country is paralyzed by indecision. Biden, bless his heart, just isn’t up for the task. It makes Nine Eleven and the Jay Eff Kay assassination look like picnics. It just gets worse from there.”
“We can’t let this happen, John.” The Older McCain said.
“Yes, yes.” John said. “We’ll tell…”
“Tell who?” the Older McCain demanded. “That you dreamed about this? Forget it. You are going to win the Presidency and do whatever it takes to do it. That’s what you need to do. You’re not gonna like what you need to do it, but you are going to do it all anyway. Put Palin on the ticket. Governor of Alaska. She’ll fire up the conservative base, ethical and experience questions be damned. The party will love her.”
I met her once…and She even supported that stupid Bridge to Nowhere! The younger McCain thought. And she has even less experience than Obama. The younger McCain however did not interrupt as the older McCain continued.
“Next, you are going to slime Obama. There are an awful lot of people in the country who just need reassurance that it’s okay to not vote for Obama. They just need the motivation to justify their own prejudices and fears. You are going to hand it to them. No matter how ridiculous, just keep slinging it at him. Forget the issues, make it about the personality. Do you want to vote for me, or the scary African-American? It’s the only way you are ever going to win this election, John, as dishonorable as that sounds. And if you don’t win this election, dishonor or not, the consequences are grave.”
“Palin. Attack Ads. Slime. Do it, John. Forget your f-ing honor. This country is more important.”
And then John Sidney McCain III woke up to the cold light of the morning, the last words of his older dream self burning in his head.