The time: A late night in early October, 2018. The place: A windowless room deep in the bowels of the White House. The players: The brain trust for the 2018 mid-term election.
"We've got to get back to the basics," said the thin, balding man. "There is no way we can permit this revolution to fail."
"Well, we've managed to make a martyr out of Brett. That should keep our base mollified." A lone woman in the room gave her single contribution to the discussion.
The thin, balding man cleared his throat. "Yes, but once the vote's taken, they'll forget. They'll be satisfied. And satisfaction is the last thing we want for our side. We want them afraid, and angry."
The man in the immaculate suit and the neatly trimmed white hair raised his arms up in an air of supplication. "Stephen, why can we not go with what won before? Surely they haven't wised up to us by now, have they?"
The thin, balding man looked over at the white haired man. He brought his hand up and stroked his chin, trying to think about this most critical month of the administration. Then, slowly, a smirk stole across his face. He spoke. "You know, it just may work. All we have to do is get the fear factor back. You there!" He pointed to a faceless form in the shadows. "What have you heard about a new group of migrants in central America starting to form up?"
The aide who had been summoned clicked on his laptop, then replied. "It looks like there's a group in Honduras that may be ready to march soon. We've intercepted some communications that they are ready to begin as early as next week."
The balding man smiled. "Is there anything we can do to help them? You know, without anyone finding out? The last thing we want is our fingerprints on their march."
The aide, looked back at his computer, then said. "I'm sure we can manage a bit of logistical support behind the scenes. No one ever looks at how these things form."
The white haired man said, "I'll just bet if we work it right, we can blame a new caravan on Soros."
The balding man replied, "Damn straight. We'll tar him with this one just like we've done the last five times."
Suddenly, the rumpled figure over in the corner stirred himself to life. His scraggly hair hung over his face, but he seemed scarcely to care that he appeared so slovenly. "Yes, that will be good. Revive the fear of the other. It would be good if we were able to deploy the military to the border before the election."
The aide dared to speak up. "Sir, if these folks started tomorrow, it will be January before they reach any border."
The rumpled figure glared in the aide's direction. Then he turned to the balding man, "So much the better. The longer we can keep this in front of the public, the better for us." He paused, then added "If we could just conflate this group of migrants with Arab terrorism, we'd get twice the pop out of this."
The aide said, "I'm on it, sir."
The rumpled figure got up from his chair, and brushed his hair back away from his eyes. "You guys asked me back in here because of how I managed the last campaign. Well, if you want my help, you have to be willing to do what I say. Is this a go?"
The white haired man said, "I can speak for him. We need you. We'll do what you say. Anything but Nancy Pelosi leading the House again."
The rumpled figure then started pacing back and forth, waiting for the words to form in his head. He started to speak as he crossed the room. "Ok, we're in a bad place with this thing about pre-existing conditions. It seems that's something even our crowd likes. We have to convince everyone that we are the folks who will keep this in place."
Another aide who had been in the shadows spoke up. "How can we do that when we've been telling everyone we want to repeal and replace?"
The rumpled figure raised a finger at the offending voice. "You. Out. You have no place here."
The second aide scurried to gather his things, and left the room, his back to the door so as to not ever show his back to the assembled crowd.
The rumpled figure stopped pacing, and held onto the back of one of the enormous office chairs around the conference table. "I have no patience for people like him. Why is it folks can't see that it doesn't matter what we've done in the past, all we have to do is come up with a common story and stick to it. Lying? That word doesn't exist. If we say it often enough, they will believe. We've destroyed their ability to believe anything other than what we say."
The balding man spoke. "There must be something we can do with all of these folks who are accosting our friends in restaurants, staging sit-down protests in the Capitol, yelling at us."
The rumpled figure smiled. "I've thought of that. Let me see what you think of this. 'Jobs Not Mobs'. I can see that plastered on signs at every rally he holds."
The white haired man looked pleased. "I know I can sell that one to him. It's short - he'll remember it. Before we're through, we'll have convinced people that the Democrats are evil creatures, wanting only to seize power in order to make us the Venezuela of the north. I'm sure we can convince some of our friends to foot the bill for some really good visuals on TV."
The rumpled figure nodded his head in agreement. "There's one more thing that bothers me, though. That tax thing we did last year, it's not polling well. Even our base has seen right through it. And it hasn't resulted in more revenues - when that deficit figure hits, we'll have to work hard to convince folks everything will be fine." He paused. Then he resumed, "I've got it. Middle of this month, we have him talk about a middle class tax cut. Make it, oh, let's see - 10%. Have him claim that it'll be in effect by the election."
The balding man spoke. "That's genius! How have we done without you this past year."
The rumpled man gathered his coat, and got ready to leave the meeting. "You weren't too successful. May I just mention family separation? That was a royal mess. You needed me to reconnect with the people. Don't you forget that. I'll be waiting for your next call." And the rumpled man left the room, while the others remaining were beaming with the knowledge that they had the game plan for the return of Trump's Greatest Hits.
Posted first on my blog at http://evenabrokenclock.blog