WASHINGTON, D.C.—FRIDAY, WEEK 1
Senator Baxter Hammond stared straight ahead from the back seat of his air-conditioned car. Despite the air-conditioning, Senator Hammond’s collar was wet with perspiration as his fleshy double-chin and neck covered half of the collar. His arms were folded and rested on his plump midsection. The waves of heat rising from the pavement and concrete blurred the images of cars and people a block ahead. It was a typical late August day in the nation’s capital.
The car slowed at a traffic light along Pennsylvania Avenue. A herd of Asian tourists crossed the street.
“Probably Japanese,” he grumbled.
Lloyd Vandermeer slouched in the corner of the back seat next to the Senator, wearing his reading glasses, lost in a pile of papers he skimmed on the way to the White House. Although Lloyd was as tall as the Senator, both over six feet, he was athletically trim. Lloyd looked to be less than half as old as the Senator’s sixty-four years, but was actually in his early forties. Unlike the Senator’s pitted face and white hair, Lloyd’s smooth skin and wavy, brown hair was a picture of youth and energy. He was a stark contrast to the Senator.
The Senator appreciated Lloyd’s hard work and had promoted him to chief legislative aide a year ago. It proved timely. Lloyd helped guide the Senator through a bitter reelection fight that had ended in an overwhelming victory the previous November.
“How did President Edwards know that I was in town?”
“Probably from the speech you gave last night. When the White House called, I was on the spot,” Lloyd answered.
“Did they say what this is about?”
“Just that Edwards is concerned about the aircraft deal.”
“Damn! Edwards must’ve gotten wind of my opposition to that deal with the Japanese.” Neither spoke the rest of the way.
* * *
“Members of my Committee don’t like this joint aircraft development program with Japan. Reworking the deal so that they purchase aircraft outright would demonstrate that the Japanese are committed to decreasing their trade surplus with us. More importantly, we’d retain our aerospace technology advantages,” Senator Hammond stated as his eyes bore across the President’s desk in the Oval office. He saw the President’s hazel eyes glaring back at him.
Sweat beaded President Jonathan Edwards’s forehead. His square jaw was clenched, considering his response to the Senator. The President’s white, crew cut hair contrasted with his tanned, sun-dried skin. “Senator, the deal’s in writing as a joint development project. I can’t go back and say there’s no deal just because it was signed by the previous Administration. We’ve got problems enough with the Japanese.”
“You’ve got problems with the way the deal was announced last August. Almost all of us from the Hill were out of town on a break, and the news was lost in the media’s fascination with the Olympics,” Hammond criticized.
The Senator pushed himself out of the chair and buttoned his jacket over his rotund waistline. He pulled a cigar out of his inside jacket pocket and put it in his mouth unlit. “The Japanese need to learn that there are limits, Mr. President. I have constituents to satisfy, and they want toughness with the Japanese.”
The Senator’s gravelly voice irritated the President. Because of Hammond’s enormous power, Edwards placated him at times. Jonathan stood, tall and trim, unlike the Senator. “Baxter, you do what you have to do. I have to live up to the deal as signed, just as if my signature was on the dotted line. Without some extraordinary circumstances, the deal will go through unchanged.”
Baxter Hammond nodded and left.
* * *
Back in his office, Senator Hammond flung papers at a window. His face reddened when he bent down and picked them up.
“The damned trade statistics show no signs of change. Edwards has no intention of pressing the Japanese on this deal. I wasn’t around when we lost the television industry. And our own auto industry helped the Japanese steal that market. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let us hand over the aerospace industry through this joint deal,” the Senator fumed.
“What do you have in mind?” Lloyd asked.
The Senator grinned. “I think we can use Rob Harwell to move things along,” the senator said.
“The President’s nephew?” Lloyd questioned, surprised at hearing the name.
“Yes. Rob’s out to make a name for himself. He’s a Presidential advisor who doesn’t always agree with the President. More importantly, I think we can manipulate him to our advantage,” bragged the Senator.
Lloyd walked over and joined the Senator at the window. On the street below, a woman led a group of Asian tourists, brandishing a bright yellow parasol.
“Look at them. They’ve become too wealthy. It’s time to bring the dollars back where they belong, Lloyd. And I think that with Rob Harwell’s help, we can do it.”
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Pendulum Over the Pacific
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February 20, 2019
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