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A valet had left with the luggage. A Secret Service Detail was already in the hotel corridor with the two girls. Only the couple remained, and both were clearly dressed to leave.

“Okay. The girls and I are going. We'll be back in DC with enough time to get them to school by home room. Are you O.K.?”

“Yeah. Checkout time is 11 and I'm going to hang around for another hour. Service is outside. I'll be fine.”

Michelle Obama smiled. She knew these hang-around-by-myself moments tended to be times her husband  would sneak a cigarette,  and for the life of her she didn't think even being in North Carolina would help him on that front. Non-union hotel staff love good tips, and she had paid a hefty one to scour every inch of the presidential suite for hidden cigarettes while he was in the shower. The only way he ws going to get a smoke in was to ask someone for one, and she knew he wasn't going to be doing that.

The door shut. The president moved one of the chairs away from the round game table in the sitting area so he could sit and stretch his legs. A knock at the door of the adjoining room was followed with the click of an opening door. In walked George Soros, carrying a small wooden box.

“Cigar, Mr. President? Got them for you in Tampa.”

“Excellent. Excellent. You've been busy, George.”

“Yeah. I hated to miss this convention, but there were some things to wrap up after closing down the one last week.”

“What was left?

“Final deal with Romney. He understands the concept enough, that we bought the Republican Party in 2011, but he still presented a problem once he became the titular head of the party.”

“He's still on the reservation, though. Everything you said he would do, he did.”

“Yes, but I have to be sure. But he's cool.”

“What did you give him?”

“Next year, you're going to draw on his expertise in the private sector to rescue the postal service.”

The president chuckled. “I am. And how is he going to do that?”

“You're going to love this: With a large infusion of federal money. He's going to say it is modeled after his plan to save the 2002 Winter Olympics.”

“And he's going to go along with that?”

“There are some sweeteners.”

“What did you commit me to?”

“Well, another part of the plan – the part we're going to publicize the most – is that all of the money that the postal service put into future known and unknown pensions – is going to be 'invested” in the postal recovery, off-shore, federally guaranteed, but of course, the governor's appointed representative will collect a heavy management fee for this. Taxed at 14 percent.”

“Is that legal?”

“I don't think it would be if we were using real pensioners' funds, but since a good number of the pension contributions are at best specualtive in nature, Romney is going to argue that it is a responsible direct shareholder re-investment in this country's future.”

“And he will make the proposal and make the argument.”

“Yeah, and he knows you might voice opposition but then accept it in the spirit of bi-partisanship.”

“and Ryan?”

“I think he still thinks the election is on the up and up. Maher nailed that one: For all the talk of him being an intellectual, there isn't a single Palin position he diverges from, which means either she's an intellectual-”

“-or there's an actuary somewhere who's short a coincidence or two.”

“Pretty much.”

“Okay, so that's covered. Was the M.S. Deal part of that.”:

“Not directly. Our plant among his handlers did suggest to Anne that she mention her M.S. In her speech, but I don't think anyone involved the governor in that decision.”

“All the while knowing that-”

“That a) we would then have more and better M.S. stories at our conventnion, and b) any time she mentions debilitating disease while looking -let's face it – pretty good, it reminds everyone else about the disparity of health care in this country. That she's getting secret rich-person care.”

“Very good. But I'd been meaning to ask you for some time about Rush Limbaugh.”

“We got some resistance from him at first, because of course he believes he owns the Republican Party, but he also knows the reverse is true annd that in some cases, that means he has to accept talking points without question.”

“And the whole Fluke matter was one of those?”

“Every bit of it, right down to him mispronouncing her name and getting her first name wrong. Begala insisted on that.”

“Paul Begala? I didn't know he was involved with this.”

“Only a couple of specific direct behavioral things. We use him pretty much the same way the Seals use him.”

“He sneaked a porn stash into Limbaugh's bedroom?”

“No, but the whole send-us-the-videos bit was his idea. I have to admit, though, that Limbaugh loved that one. He started laughing giddily when the script arrived. Coughed up a good half of the fetal pig he had eaten for lunch.”

“Does Limbaugh really not understand about maintenance doses for birth control pills?”

“Why would he? Honestly, I don't think he understands maintenance doses in general, which is why he can't hear any more.”

“And he still doesn't suspect anything.”

“He suspects all kinds of things. He always has. I took a cue from the KGB's J.F.K. disinformation and surrounded all of this with a half dozen other what I call placebo plots around him. I'd call him a basket case, but it's a really insensitive term involving disabled veterans.”

“What kind of other plots?”

“He thnks you're keeping Rush out of the Rock'n'roll Hall of Fame. He thinks coastal fishing is responsible for his house taking on water. He thinks the ten notes (singing) But Here's My Num Ber So Call Me May Be (stops singing) de-crypts into some kind of back-door direct line into his switchboard known only by Mike Stark.”

Both of them laughed. The president wasn't entirely sure whether Soros was joking, but was glad he had waited until this moment to light his cigar.

“Did you do the same across the baords with the other talk show guys?”

“Didn't really have to. Most of them will do whatever Rush does and hope their listeners don't notice or don't care that he did it first. The others, well I couldn't make up some of the stuff they've done without prompting.”

“And sheriff Joe?”

“Governor Brewer has helped us on that one. She's really been working for us the whole time.”

“I figured that out. You're lucky, George, that no one but me could hear her over the helicopters.”

“Why, what did she say when she was jabbing her finger.”

“Something about, 'I've been carrying water for you in the desert, and you need to know the bucket handle needs one of those cool-wrap things.”

“Jan's really nice. Did she tell you that she came up with the headless bodies thing all by herself?”

“I thought that is what we were charging, that she made it up.”

“Well, she made up the fact that she would make up something totally weird. Said it was an old play in Arizona politics, the double-down English-only spin. Bob Mardian taught it to one of her bundlers' father.”

“Nothing new under the sun.”

“Nothing, Mr. President. Dan Rather, actually, suggested having the Michigan commissioners make a big deal about that font business. Said it was how Rove lost him his job.”

“So, the font was --”

“- - intentionally chosen because it 94 percent of a line of type rather than the convention 96 percent, which is to say that the petition type was .1236 of an inch rather than .1239. I was holding my breath in case one of the commissioners balked, but they liked the idea of measuring.”

More laughter. The president sat back down, finally, allowing Soros to as well.

“so is Arizona in play?”

“Either way, Mr. President, it's a win.  If we lose Arizona, everyone is going to blame it on the crazy people there. It stereotypes  our oppsoition in at least four other states. I'd campaign there, if I were you, but mainly for the entertainment value.”

“It's up to scheduling, and I've made sure that they don't know anything about this.”

“Just as well, our people aren't really inclined to keep secrets. Well, unless you need to know any more, I've got a party to run.”

“I'm fine. Less I know the better anyway. But, wait a second.”

He goes over to the room bar fridge, fumbles for his key and looks inside.

“I'm pretty sure I saved – yes, here.”

A two serving battle of an oakey cabernet. The opresident breaks the seal as Soros finds two clean glasses on the vanity counter. The president pours. The glasses clink.

“To the Koch Brothers.”
“To the Koch Brothers.”

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