Thoughts of a Future Statesman
Category: Post-ep to Bartlet's Third State of the
Character: Jed Bartlet
Why is everyone looking at me weird?
I just asked Charlie about Abbey twice, I think. Maybe not, I'm not too sure.
I hear someone say 4 minutes and I feel Leo propelling me out the door to the limo. He's yammering on about the Blue Ribbon commission, trying to convince me it is a good idea, I know it is a good idea.
I sink back into my seat for a few minutes rest, make that a few seconds rest, Leo is already on the phone and I have the feeling I am supposed to be paying attention to what he is saying. I nod and look out the window. It is a beautiful night out there. The stars are out and the air is crisp.
I look over at Charlie, sitting across from me. He appears calm and gives me a look I take to mean, "Are you OK?" I just smile and give him a wink. I'm OK. I'm more than OK.
I am the most powerful man in the world about to make the biggest speech of my political career, or so I've been told. I am...
No, wait, don't I have to be dead 15 years first, oh, never mind.
We're pulling up to the Capitol, time for a few deep breaths.
I get out of the limo and glance at my reflection in the window. Hair looks OK, I straighten my tie, pat my pocket searching for my glasses, OK, they are there, button my jacket.
I glance up at the dome on top of the Capitol. It is quite a sight.
Leo is right beside me. "Ready, Mr. President?"
We quickly enter the building and ascend the few stairs to meet Sam and Toby. As I reach the top of the stairs, Charlie glances at me and then down at my feet.
Good grief. I, Josiah Bartlet, leader of the free world, minutes away from addressing Congress, am about to trip over my shoelace. Now I have to bend down to tie my shoe in front of an impatient audience.
I bend down and I can feel a few dozen eyes on me. It's like being back in Sister Marie's kindergarten class all over again. I was the last person in the class to master shoe tying. It was and is a nightmare. My fingers go numb on me and I have to try twice. I feel Leo's eyes on the back of my head. Finally I rise to face Sam and Toby. I just smile, take the folder and shake their hands.
The crowd erupts into applause as we walk down the hall.
Maybe they were right; maybe this is the biggest speech of my political career. Charlie keeps staring at me, God; I hope I don't look as nervous as I feel.
We come up to the door and it's keeper, Mr. Finney.
I nod and bow my head in prayer. Out of the corner of my eye I see Charlie do the same. OK, I think, short prayer, Congress and the nation are waiting.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I cross myself and put my hand over my heart.
"Amen" I hear Charlie echo over my left shoulder.
Time to take a step forward and speak to Mr. Finney. Deep breath.
"Mr. Finney, would you tell the Speaker I would like to see him"
And the door opens.
"Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States"
I feel a hand on my shoulder as I walk through the door. Leo? Charlie? I have no idea. Perhaps the imaginary hand of the Presidents who have come and gone before me.
Quick glance down at my shoelaces. All tied. Deep breath and...