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For All Nails #94: My Father was a Gambler Down in Georgia

Henderson Dewey Arms Hotel
Dewey Field, Indiana, CNA [1]
15 July 1974

Gustav Skinner looked around the room and felt young.  
Every other man there was his father's age -- the senior
staff that had guided Lennart Skinner to the Georgia 
governorship, to the leadership of the Liberal Party, and 
soon (God and the voters willing) to the Governor-Generalship
itself.  A formidable crew to be sure.  At twenty-four, 
though, Gus knew he was ready to act in his own right, 
and not just as a surrogate for Pappy.  His only worry
was whether these men would take him seriously,

Daniel Charles, of course, was next to the large tray of
pastries just delivered by the hotel staff.  God, that man
could eat.  Meetings at these big airfield hotels were convenient,
particularly when the participants had to fly in from several
different cities.  But since the hotel felt obligated to keep
any meeting well stocked with food, Gus wasn't sure it was
the best thing for Dan's health.  Gus joined Charles at the
table and grabbed the last chocolate-covered _croissant_.

"Gus, my boy, how was Delaware? [2]"

"Fine, thank you."  Gus had just appeared at a campaign rally
at Webster University in Newark.  "Roth Williams has got a real 
shot there.  I'm thinking we ought to bring the Governor in for a
personal appearance."

"We're up against the RJP there, right?  Open seat?"

"It's a three-way with a Deanite, but yes, the last poll had
the RJP man Tribbitt over us by 42-35-23.  We can do it, though, I 
think that lead's very soft and we picked up a lot of college volunteers
on my visit."

"Uh-huh.  I think the Governor's in Philly a week from Thursday."
He raised his voice to reach across the room.  "Betty?"  Betty 
Richards was still called the Governor's "personal secretary", 
but Gus knew she was the final authority on his schedule, which 
meant that she was actually managing the logistics for the whole 
campaign apparatus that traveled with him.

"Philadephia on the 25th?"

"Yeah?"

"How hard to throw in Newark? [3]"

"New Jersey or Delaware?"

"Delaware."

"Could do it if the Governor wants, quick in and out with the train."

"Could we map out a speech at Webster?  Young Gus here thinks it might
be the difference in Delaware if we can afford it."

"I'll let you know."

"Thank you, Betty."

Gus' moment of elation was interrupted as his father and Michael
Murphy abruptly entered the room.  The foreign policy advisor, as
usual, looked worried, but Pappy's sunny gaze lit up the faces of 
everyone there, and everyone instantly hung on his words.

"Good morning, gen'men, Betty.  Michael and I have just been talking
to the CBI, and it seems we got ahselves some new dee-velopments.  Michael,
you can sum it up better'n I can."

"Thank you, Governor.  Our weekly briefing had some surprises, as you
say, most of them to do with New Granada.  First.  On Wednesday, the 
Kingdom of New Granada and the United Empire are announcing a comprehensive
military and economic cooperation agreement.  Second.  At the same time
they will announce the marriage engagement of King Ferdinand with Princess
Sophia of Great Britain.  Third.  There's a buildup of _cazadores_ and
conventional FANG forces near the border with Quito -- not enough to  
overwhelm Quito if they resist but very large, very worthy of concern."

"I'm sure you realize that a formal alliance between the UE and RNG
presents us with a policy problem.  The Liberal Party has maintained for
years that excessively close ties with the Empire risk getting us into
foreign entanglements against our true interests.  On the other hand, we
have also argued that the CNA's highest priority is to contain the power
of Mexico, and working with this new bloc may offer the best way to do that."

Tucker Marshall, the campaign political director, seemed to have heard 
enough.  "So what _exactly_ do you-all propose we should do, Michael?"

"I think the sensible policy for us is a cautious middle course, between
outright support for them on one hand and concern for the other national 
sovereignties in the region, on the other."

"G-d damn it!"  Marshall's pudgy face was reddening.  "Don't you realize
that _politically_, the cautious middle course is the one thing we _cain't_
do?  We been hecklin' Monaghan for eight years now about how he can't make
a decision, how he wants to try to be friends with everybody, how he won't
take a firm stand.  And we know _he's_ gon' be taking a cautious middle 
course.  We gotta pick one side of the G-ddamned road or the other!"

Nods around the room.  Michael Murphy was often a minority of one in these
discussions, just as he was the sole Catholic and the sole UNO graduate 
among a close-knit group of Baptists from the University of Georgia.  Pappy
moved to defuse the situation.

"Now, Tucker, it ain't Michael's job to assess the po-litical implications.
Once we get in office, we gon' be damn glad to have someone in the Foreign
Ministry who can keep all these countries straight."  He beamed his sunny 
face on Murphy, who brightened noticably, then addressed the whole room.  
"On the other hand, gen'men, I think Tucker's 'bout nailed the bung in the 
bung-hole when it comes to what we gon' do now.  We cain't be lollygaggin'.
The Brits and the New Granadans are startin' themselves a new team.  Are we 
with'em or agin'em?"

Armin Gregory, the communications director, spoke up.  "Everyone seen that
boy on vita last Friday night [4]?  He had Walt MacAnuff eatin' out of his 
hand, and that ain't easy to do.  I don't fancy runnin' against him,
'specially now you say he's gon' get himself a pretty fiance."

"Princess Sophia, you say.  She that good-looking?  Whadda we know 'bout her,
anyway?" asked Charles.

Pappy shrugged.  "Got me trussed and hog-tied there, Dan.  I didn' even 
know ole' King Henry _had_ a daughter."

Murphy smiled a thin smile.  "The British government tend to keep information 
on the Royals tightly controlled, and no wonder.  They trot them out for a 
few ceremonial occasions, cut the ribbon on a new motorway, that sort of 
thing, and otherwise keep them out of the news as much as possible.  From 
what I understand, though, Sophia seems to be a sort of white sheep of the 
family.  At least, nobody's linked her to any murders, or snapped any photos 
of her exposing her bottom."

Gus knew what Murphy was alluding to.  Unlike his older sister, the Prince of 
Wales _had_ been photographed with his royal arse in open view, and there 
were dark rumors that King Henry (in the days of his own dissolute youth) had 
once beaten a servant to death in a drunken rage.  There were times when Gus 
wondered whether old Tom Jefferson hadn't had the right idea about kings.

"Of course," Gregory interjected, "maybe all that means is that Sophia's more 
circumspect than the rest of her family."

"Well," Pappy chuckled, "my Pappy always said, 'Son, if you cain't be good, be 
discreet.'  As long as the girl's either one or the other, our boy Ferdi 
oughtta do just fine outta the match.  But Ah don' think you answered Danny, 
Michael, she good-lookin' or not?"

Murphy reddened a bit.  "Sweet sort of face, a bit pale, wears her dark
hair in ringlets.  As I said, they don't let her out much to be seen, but 
I'd say she's rather attractive, yes."

Gregory again.  "And she's a real, honest to G-d storybook Prin-cess.  I can
see now, the dime paper's'll be all over the storybook couple, praisin'em
to the skies.  A dam' lot of our people want a King, Governor, and given a 
better choice than the one we got, they're gon' fall in love with both him 
_and_ her.  I don' think we can afford to muck around with that kind of 
popularity, not if we got a choice."

Pappy took in the room again.  "Well, Ah think we _do_ got a choice.  Armin,
you done laid out part of the downside of goin' agin' Ferdi and his new Brit
friends.  What's the downside of goin' with'em?"

"If I may, Governor?"  Murphy again.  "There's a substantial risk of 
_political_ embarassment from aligning ourselves with two countries whose
policies we don't control or even influence.  We might discover that the
occupation of Trinidad and Tobago isn't as benign as the RNG says it is.
The RNG might go and invade someone else -- I told you there's something 
going on in Quito.  The United Empire could make another move in Africa to
alienate our Negro voters, such as increasing aid to Victoria.  Or the 
British royal family could revert to type -- either Princess Sophia or one
of the others.  Any of those events during the campaign could really hurt 
us."

Marshall suddenly slapped Murphy on the back with genuine warmth.  "Michael,
my friend, now you're talkin' like a politician.  I agree with him, Governor,
there's a lot of different ways them foreigners could put us right in the
middle of the hog waller.  But I might point out that as it sits, we're
_losing_ this G-dd-mned election.  We _got_ to break through in Indiana to
get a majority.  And this _might_ be the way to do it."

"Go on."  Gus realized that Pappy still hadn't decided which way to go.

"We each got our core supporters -- regions, ethnic groups, and most of them
ain't gon' move parties in the next four weeks.  But there's one group we
can move.  The military, the West Indians 'cept for the ones from Trinidad,
a lot of the Anglicans -- England and the Empire _matter_ to them.  They've
been with Monaghan for the most part on account of his _style_ -- he's got
better breeding than any of the real lords.  But now if policy toward the
Empire becomes a _policy_ issue, and _we're_ on the pro-Empire side, well,
it could shake things up.  And we need'em shaken up."

"Uh-huh.  Michael?"

"There's another risk of aligning with the Empire and RNG, Governor.  If
we _win_, we've got to govern.  We've got to deal with Mexico, both the
President and the Secretary, and with every country in the hemisphere.  Can
we afford to be so committed to what might be one side in a major conflict?"

"There's 'fore the election and after the election, Michael, and they ain't
necessarily the same thing.  Oh, Ah get your point, Ah know it ain't our boy
Ferdi who's in charge in New Granada, it's that Colonel Elbittar.  I'm not
the kind of man to be hornswoggled by some tinpot colonel, Ah tell you, and
Ah don't think you are either.  You're right, we cain't go whole hog on this,
we got to leave ahselves some wiggle room in case the situation changes.  But
I think we got to roll the dice."

"Armin, get to work on a speech for Wednesday night, welcoming the new 
alliance as partners and ready to slop on Monaghan for all the cautious
things he's gon' say that afternoon.  Make sure you go over ever'thing with
Michael so we're _real_ sure our rumps are covered."  He'd crossed the 
Rubicon, Gus thought, just like that, set the direction of the entire rest
of the campaign.  A true gambler.  Pappy had _never_ had trouble making
up his mind.  That was what separated him from the Carter Monaghans of the
world, and why _he_ should be the Governor-General.

"Um, Governor?  I just thought of something."

"Yes, Danny?"

"Didn't _Dean_ get the same CBI briefing that you and Michael did?  Should
we worry about this leaking _before_ Wednesday?"

"Uh-hum.  Whadda you think, Armin?"  This was directed not to Armin Gregory
but to Armin DeWayne [5], the closest they had to an expert on the curious
mental processes of their secondary Masonist opponent.

"Nah.  Dean's not gonna go off on the basis of a CBI report.  He thinks 
the CBI is lying to him all the time -- he'll think they're trying to set
him up."

"You don' think the CBI _is_ lyin' to _us_?"

"Nope.  Anthony's [6] the original straight shooter.  He won't necessarily
give us everything he's got, but what he gives us'll be true and what
he keeps from us won't be for political advantage.  He's got some hope
of keepin' his job if we get in.  Wouldn't be the worst idea in the world,
either, keeping the CBI out of trouble on our watch."

"Then, gen'men, we have our work to do."  The meeting began to break up,
Pappy exchanging a few words with each of them.

"Gus, my boy, Ah understand you think Delaware's back in play?"

"Yes, Governor."  By long-standing custom, Pappy was never "Pappy" in public.

"Then Ah'm gon' get in there and give them Delawareans a speech they won'
forget.  Betty, when can I do that?"

"All worked out, Governor, a side trip from Philadelphia on the 25th."

The sunshine of Lennart Skinner's face beamed once more, on the faces of
his secretary and his son.

Notes:

[1] Dewey Field is Burgoyne's principal airport, located 
    (as is OTL's Greater Pittsburgh) several miles down the
    Ohio from the confluence.  In the FANTL the NC-Indiana
    border is the 80th meridian, so that the western suburbs
    of Burgoyne are in Indiana.  Both the airfield and the 
    township containing it received their current names in 1939
    as GG Watson honored his late predecessor and fellow Liberal.
    (Burgoyne was an early air hub -- even in the rail-centric CNA 
    politicians quickly took to air travel, particularly during 
    the short heated national campaigns.)

[2] The breakdowns of the NC Council seats in #48 and #83b had
    Maryland and Delaware sharing two seats.  Upon further review
    we have decided that each province in the NC gets at least one
    seat, Maryland gets two, and Massachusetts is retconned from 
    four to three.  (With the CNA losing the textile industry to
    cheap-labor countries in the late 19th century, Massachusetts
    has less heavy industry and more light industry and agriculture.
    It has a population of around 5,000,000, smaller than in OTL.)
    The incumbent Delaware Councilman is elderly PC veteran Byron
    Joseph, who is retiring and endorsing his erstwhile opponent
    Sherman Tribbitt, now an ally in the Monaghan-Levine coalition.
    The Masonist candidate, Karl Hoffecker, is one of Professor Pez' 
    faculty colleagues at Webster.)

[3] In OTL, Newark DE is pronounced as in the sentence:

    "Rejecting the first design, God ordered Noah to build a new ark."

    In the FANTL Newark NJ, known primarily as the site of the main
    airfield serving New York along with Brooklyn's Moishe Levine Field, 
    also has this pronunciation.

[4] See FAN #92, "A Royal Audience", for King Ferdinand's appearance on
    NCCC's "Closing Time".

[5] "Armin" is a common first name among forty-something Tories, 
    particularly in the SC, after the dashing cinema star Lee Roy
    Armin (1902-1945).

[6] Sir Benjamin Anthony, the distinguished jurist, was installed as CBI
    director by Monaghan as part of his deal with Levine, with a mission
    to curb the excesses of the Liddy era. 

Dave MB (again with major help from Johnny Pez)