A Scandal is a Storm With a Voracious Appetite
Stir a Scandal and it only gets bigger. One misdeed grows larger, getting energy from opposing forces, until it becomes a storm of increasing destructive strength sweeping over a wider area, changing the landscape forever. And yet, in spite of all the debris and obvious evidence, there is denial that the storm ever existed, or if it did exist, the claims are made that it did no damage.
A political storm is not about a politician being open and honest with constituents. It is about truth management. First, is it necessary to tell the truth? How much truth should be told? Who needs to know and why? If the truth comes out will it destroy the power base or the sources of income? To what extent should the sources of truth be stopped?
A politician is not one person, but the figurehead of an organization. That organization has spent time and money building an image, lifting the politician to a position of power. Unscrupulous members might be assigned the chores of keeping bad news or truths hidden. Small scandals can be countered with lies or money. Large scandals might require more drastic measures. And the politicians themselves might never know how the scandal is handled. A scandal is a storm with a voracious appetite, springing up suddenly, and out of control. Such is the story of Any Mann.
Any Mann began as a small town candidate running for a small office. He kissed babies, became a member of the school board, the county water district, the city council, and quietly began building his resume. He had help, of course, from an organization that saw his potential. He wasn’t particularly bright, but he was handsome and well groomed, did and said what he was told, smiled a lot, and had a clean record. He was a near perfect candidate and the organization could build a power base around him.
He was elected to the state assembly on the first try, not because he was so great but because the organization easily outspent his opponent. After three terms Any was elected to Congress and gradually worked his way onto powerful committees. Those who had supported him throughout his career now began asking him for favors as a way of repaying their investments. The requests were harmless at first, but the demands became increasingly bold, and were hard to put into bills without public exposure.
The pressures on Any were growing and he began taking prescription drugs to ease his stress. His political strength was building and he was becoming a name across the country.
He returned to his home town for a Mother’s Day celebration. His sister, brother and selected friends joined him. They partied hardy. Any relaxed and was glad to be away from the pressures of Washington although he still had his bodyguards. Sometime in the evening drinking and drugs mixed. Any at first appeared normal but soon he was out of control. He found his sister, Patti, asleep in another room. After a brief struggle he overpowered and raped her.
As morning neared he came to his senses and became afraid. “Get out! This is your fault! You’re trying to ruin me!” He shoved her out of the room. “I don’t ever want to see you again!”
Their older brother was awakened by the commotion and found Patti sobbing inconsolably, curled in a fetal position. After a few minutes he asked gently, “What happened?” Patti ‘s eyes widened. “I can’t tell you,” she sobbed. “You have to,” he insisted.
“Any raped me,” she blurted. He held her hand, gradually comprehending the gravity of the situation. He hugged her and said, “Everything will be all right. After I find Any I’m taking you to the hospital.”
He found Any outside the house, talking with a bodyguard. He walked up to Any and asked bluntly, “Patti’s our sister. Why did you rape her?”
“Don’t be taking her side when you don’t even know what happened! I knew she’d say something like that. She’s a tramp!”
Before Any could say anything more, he was knocked down. His brother stated, “I should kill you but after I take Patti to the hospital, I’m holding a news conference and telling the nation just what kind of jerk you are.”
He spun about and marched out. Any turned to the bodyguard. “I guess it’s all over.”
The bodyguard was on his cell phone immediately. After a few seconds he said, “Go get in my car and wait there. Don’t talk to anybody. The big boss says hang tight. We’ll handle this crisis before it gets out of control.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is not the time to ask questions, sir. Just follow directions. Everything is already put into motion.”
Any saw his brother and sister drive away in his government issued sedan. He put his head into his hands. “What is going on? I can’t believe that I’ve screwed up my life.”
In his anguish he missed the following scene. A gray car pulled out and followed the sedan at a respectable distance. A few blocks away at a stoplight the gray car suddenly pulled up alongside the sedan. Several guns fired simultaneously. The sedan lurched forward and crashed into a pole.
The gray car sped away.
Within the hour a news bulletin was issued. “This afternoon at 1 p.m. an attempted assassination on Congressman Any Mann was made. His driver, brother and sister were killed by unknown gunmen. By a lucky circumstance Any had been called away to an emergency meeting and was not in the car. Our government has just issued a High Alert until the gunmen can be found.”
The resulting publicity and the way Any handled himself over the next few months raised his ratings in the polls. He became a presidential candidate and insiders said he had the best chance of winning.
But there were rumors that kept bubbling up and damaging Any’s image. Did someone have a video showing Any and his brother fighting? Could that bruise on his cheek be explained? Did someone actually have a tape of Patti’s dying words? Attempts were made to squelch each and every rumor but that only made the rumors spread. Did Any order his brother and sister killed? Should such a man be elected to the White House?
It wasn’t long before the other congressmen considered Any a liability and began distancing themselves. They didn’t want to go down with his ship. Finally the organization behind him cut all ties. “You can’t do this,” he stated. “I didn’t order my brother and sister killed.”
Within the hour a new bulletin was issued. “This afternoon Congressman Any Mann was found dead in his office. A note was found beside his body. Any had been described as despondent by several of his close friends. A memorial will be held.”
The storm was over and all was quiet. The organization was busy, however, looking for a new candidate, someone they could package and sell. It was not about finding the best person for the job. It was simply a matter of merchandizing magic. Tell the people what they want and then convince them that their desires were granted. Anything can happen in the land where dreams come true.