[Author’s Note: HUMAN EVENTS has obtained an excerpt from the forthcoming memoir of Her Excellency, Nancy, First Woman Speakerpresident of the United States. This excerpt is dated March 31, 2009]
[Editor’s Note: Bohannon, have you lost your mind? This can’t be a parody. It might, just might, happen.]
[Author’s Note on Editor’s Note: Hey, quit whining, Babbin. You asked me what would scare me more than Obama. Having this come true is scarier than the idea of waking up next to Hillary].
What a roller coaster of a ride! Six Flags would charge for a ride like this. Disney World would say you have to be THIS tall to take this ride (seriously jeopardizing John McCain’s chances of being allowed aboard). Who would have thought it could turn out like this?
Her Excellency The Speaker stared out the window, thinking back to the most momentous election in American history.
It had seemed so sure for awhile. The financial crisis had vaulted Barack Obama into a huge lead in the polls and pundits started using the "L" word: landslide. How wrong they were. Who could have forseen the ultimate October surprise: Proof positive of the gay relationship among Obama, Bill Ayers, and Jeremiah Wright, in a love nest financed by illegal campaign contributions paid for with a personal check from Tony Rezko.
But even that hadn’t been enough to derail Mr. Teflon. When the shouting and the counting and the recounting were done, it seemed Obama had survived: Obama 270 electoral votes, McCain 268. A bare majority. Case closed, except of course for that little formality known as the Electoral College.
Because the actual presidential election hadn’t really occurred November 4, when most everyone thought they were electing a president. No, that was the day we elected the electors who then held the real presidential election December 15th.
Her Excellency The Speaker still recalled the strangled gutteral sounds from DNC chairman Howard Dean (putting to shame his Iowa mutterings of 4 years earlier) upon learning that one of their Ohio electors — out of 11 and a half million residents, what were the odds? — had voted, not for Obama, but for the elector’s brother-in-law, Joe Wurzelbacher. It couldn’t be! But it was, and an elector’s discretion is absolute, just as was the discretion of the two Texas electors who, taking a page from Congressman Ron Paul, cast their electoral votes for the candidate Paul had endorsed, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party.
When Congress had convened in joint session January 6, the electoral vote held: Obama 269, McCain 266, Baldwin 2, and Wurzelbacher 1. No one had the constitutionally-mandated electoral college majority.
Which meant that the antiquated, arcane, constitutional spare tire was inflated and mounted for the first time in 184 years, since Andrew Jackson was denied his first presidential bid in favor of John Quincy Adams.
The House would pick the president from among the top 3 finishers, but not on the basis of one vote per representative. Oh, no. One vote per state. Yes, Wyoming got the same vote as California, which has 70 times the population of Wyoming. In retrospect, someone had done the math and figured out that the 26 smallest states, with 17.7 percent of the population, could outvote the other 24 states with 82.3 percent of the population. But it hadn’t happened that way, at least not this time.
What had happened was that a number of yellow dog Democrats hopped aboard the surging bandwagon of independent thought and decided that they weren’t going to vote for Barack Obama after all, even if he had carried their state. Some such delegations voted for McCain. Two actually voted for Baldwin — which had left the house vote of states at 24 for Obama, 24 for McCain, and two for Baldwin. The presidential election was still deadlocked, and as debate heated up, positions hardened. This was going nowhere fast.
Meanwhile, the Senate tried its best to do its constitutional duty, although not at all as predicted. The Senate had to pick a vice president from among the top 2 finishers, one vote per senator. But despite the Democratic Party margin in the senate, one of their own, Joe Biden, was done in by the December surprise: Revelations that Biden had plagiarized his convention acceptance speech, his college senior thesis, the paperwork on at least five of his boy scout merit badges, and both his wedding proposals. Biden was now hospitalized, officially for stress, although rumors persisted that he’d suffered a botox overdose. In any event, the Senate was deadlocked 50-50, with the added irony that Democrats made sure to delay a vote til after January 20, so there was no vice president to break the tie over picking a vice president.
What now? Congressional party lines were stretched to the breaking point as shifting allegiances over the presidential election spilled over into committee and floor votes. Worldwide, markets hate uncertainty and promptly proved it by pushing the big recession to the brink of a small depression. The international community drifted rudderless, with allies waiting for a resolution of the election drama, while adversaries began nibbling around the edges of U.S. national interests.
No, this was no way to run a superpower, and the 28th amendment, overhauling the presidential selection process, was even now making its way through the state legislatures, after proving to be one of the very few things on which this sharply divided congress could agree.
Acting Speaker Steny Hoyer shook his head and went over the day’s schedule, including his afternoon meeting with Acting Speakerpresident Pelosi. That had taken some getting used to, but the constitution and the law were clear enough: Until — and unless — Congress finally picked a new president and vice president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the acting president. She’d already insisted that those powers included, of necessity, the right to pick an interim cabinet, since she deemed it intolerable to continue working with Bush administration holdovers. The Supreme Court was expected to rule on that shortly. In the meantime, Hoyer searched for ways to mend the growing rift between Pelosi and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who had already angered Pelosi, Obama, and McCain by picking her own shadow cabinet.
Hoyer knew one thing for sure. Pelosi and Palin couldn’t share another head table. Not since the last time. Hoyer was fairly certain that never before had anyone threatened to field dress an acting president.
*Cartoon by Brett Noel