The Idea Fairy and me were polishing off our latest plate of edibles when there was a knock on the door. It was Richard Nixon, furiously fidgeting from foot to foot. And his minder, Beelzebub.
“Gotta use your bathroom,” he said, leaping over the couch and heading for the john.
It seemed like the tinkling would never stop, but after a while he emerged and flopped down exhausted in his favorite chair. He looked drained.
“Let me guess,” I said. “You’ve been watching the impeachment trial.”
“Every damnable minute of it,” he said. “I’m doing analysis for Hell TV. ’Bub is providing color commentary.”
“And adult supervision,” ’Bub said, tapping the floor with his trident handle, while flicking his tail from side to side.
(Older readers will recall that according to the late Nixon speechwriter and New York Times columnist William Safire, Nixon was sent to Purgatory for imposing wage and price controls on the U.S. economy in 1971. I subsequently learned that Beelzebub was his case worker.)
“They finally broke for dinner,” Nixon said. “If it had gone on another five minutes, I wouldn’t have been able to hold in. That little twerp Schiff should go to hell,” he added.
“Not so fast,” ’Bub hissed. “We’ve got standards.”
I thought I better change the subject.
“So how’s it going to come out?” I asked.
“Everyone knows that Trump is going to be acquitted,” the Tricky One said. “That’s why our ratings suck.”
“Even if they call Bolton as a witness?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “And the Democrats better be careful about calling Bolton.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because if the Impeachistas call Bolton, Trump’s lawyers will get to cross-examine him,” he said. “And if I were one of Trump’s lawyers, the first question I would ask him would be ‘Mr. Bolton, are you the whistleblower and…’”
“Oh, come on,” I said. “Everyone knows the whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella…”
“You fool!” thundered ’Bub. “Now you’ve done it! You have uttered The Name That Mortals Dare Not Speak! The Name that Adam Schiff uses to summon…”
Just then there was a flash of green light, and a cloud of sulphurous smoke filled the room. And a guy who looked like ’Bub’s evil twin, but better dressed stepped out of it.
“Lucifer at your service,” he said suavely. “You must be one of Schiff’s elfs to have summoned me.”
“Uh, I misspoke,” I said desperately.
“To err is human. To forgive is divine. Neither is the policy of Satan and Co.,” he said with a devilish grin. “We’ll discuss this further when you take up permanent residency with us,” he said. “I don’t have time now.”
Suddenly Nixon was all business. “As I was trying to say before you so recklessly interrupted me, the first question Trump’s lawyers should ask Bolton is are you the real whistleblower, and did you use Eric Ciaramella as a cutout for colluding with Schiff to set up the impeachment?”
Wow. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it made sense. Ciaramella was a 33-year-old CIA analyst who had been assigned to the National Security Council because of his Ukraine expertise during the Obama administration. Bolton would have instantly recognized the value of an ambitious snitch like Eric the C, so he would be a natural choice for Bolton to use as a cutout, if Bolton was out to take down Trump. Ciaramella would have been thrilled to have been offered the mission.
“Then if I were Trump’s lawyers I would subpoena Eric himself and ask him where he got his information,” Nixon went on. “Or to put it another way, I’d ask him what did he know and when did he know it.”
“Calling Bolton and Ciaramella would mean other witnesses would be called, and the impeachment show could drag on for months,” I said. “Isn’t that what the Dems want?”
“It’s what the Dems wanted when they started it, but I’m not sure they want it anymore,” the tricky one said. “Trump’s popularity has been ticking up in the polls since the show began.”
“Speaking of the election, who do you think is gonna get the Democrats’ nomination?” I asked.
“It’s going to come down to a fight between Bernie the Red and the Billionaire Boys Club — Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, with Bloomberg the one with the serious shot,” the Trickster said. “I’m betting Bernie will come out on top.
“Michael the Busybody has $50 billion. Bernie has 5 million contributors. Michael’s money can flood the airways with ads, but it can’t buy loyalty, respect and enthusiasm. And love, of course.
“Look for Bernie to blow him out in California,” he finished.
“And if Bernie the Red is the candidate, Trump wins, game, set and match?” I asked.
“Don’t jump to conclusions,” Nixon snapped. “Remember all those polls in the spring and summer of 2016 before the Democratic convention? The ones asking who would you vote for if the election was between Trump and Bernie? Bernie won them all.
“Bernie’s 2020 campaign looks a lot like a mirror image of Trump’s 2016 run. It may be a long shot, but make no assumptions. You could wake up on Nov. 4 to discover America has just elected its first socialist President.”
He stood up. “Impeachment show is starting again. We have to run.”
“Feel the Bern, baby,” ’Bub said. And in a green flash they were gone.
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