From the second I walked in, I could feel the heat. I could sense that everyone wasn’t on my team, even before today. But politics as usual, I bravely stepped into my new role as Commander-in-Chief, observing as many others lived up to their unfortunate roles too. I expected whispers today. Expected that some would ignore me. Expected that those who ran to every media circuit that they could, dogging me out, would stand before me today with smiles on their faces and shake my hand. Many also wanted pictures. I happily smiled for the cameras, and patted plenty of backs, telling them what a great job they’ve done. A great job making a mess of this country, and it was idiots like Senator Greg Bass, who had just interrupted me, and Speaker Robinson, who played a huge part in getting us to where we were today.
Many Americans were fed up. They were unhappy and deeply discouraged with Congress. I’d heard about it every single day while on the campaign trail. Read numerous letters that addressed people’s concerns about the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government, and this fool, Senator Bass, had the audacity to sit there and challenge me tonight. Just for a few seconds, I contracted my eyes, staring him down like prey. I was well aware of the plan, and since another senator had gotten away with this bullshit before, lashing out at me was fair game. The sly grins on plenty of faces said so, and I could hear Speaker Robinson cackling underneath his foul breath. Some sat in disbelief, but little did they know, I came prepared. This was a new era, and I intended to use my bully pulpit to silence fools who had no business being here in the first place.
With all eyes zoned in on me, I moistened my thick, soft lips with my tongue then cleared a small lump that felt stuck in my throat. I was slightly nervous, but my closest adviser told me to never let them see me sweat. The smirk on my face remained locked in place, even when I asked Senator Bass if there was something he needed to get off his chest.
“It appears that you have something vital to say, so by all means, stand up and express what is ailing you. Only a coward remains slumped in his seat with his head hung low, and I’m sure you didn’t interrupt me in an attempt to be petty.”
If someone dropped a pin, you would hear it. Half of the attendees looked as if they weren’t even breathing, and I was being eaten alive for sure.
“Proceed, please,” Senator Bass said with a beet-red face. Embarrassment was written all over it, and whoever put him up to attacking me, they needed to search the Grand Old Party for someone who could really handle the job.
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to proceed? I mean, you are free to speak up, but it is rude when your president is talking. All I ask is that you wait until I’m finished. Then you can join others in the spin room to say what, exactly, is on your mind.”
“Mr. Jefferson, let’s move this along,” Speaker Robinson said in a grouchy tone from behind me. He coughed to clear his throat. “Ma . . . many of us don’t wish to be here all night, and I’m sure that you have plenty of other things on your agenda to do.”
The smirk on my face vanished as I swung around to correct him. “For the record, Mr. Robinson, only my closest confidants can refer to me as Mr. Jefferson. You, sir, need to address me as President Stephen Carter Jefferson, Mr. President or as President of the United States. I will not answer to any other name, so tuck away the names you all call me at the country club and save them for whenever I make my final departure from the White House. With that being said, now, I will proceed.”
Before I turned around, my VP stood and slowly clapped his hands. The loud clap echoed, causing numerous other Democratic leaders to stand and clap too. Many Republicans sat stone-faced and didn’t budge. I mean, if looks could kill, I’d be the first dead president on Capitol Hill. I laughed it off, and in an effort to amuse the crowd, I expressed my sympathy for Speaker Robinson’s nasty cough.
“Let’s all pray for his speedy recovery, because not only does his cough sound horrific, but he looks terrible too. We should all be able to agree on that.”
The crowd burst into laughter. I wondered if they would laugh a few months from now when I shook up shit in the White House and made them feel regretful for dissing, yet again, another Black President.
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Excerpted from Black President by Brenda Hampton Copyright © 2017 by Brenda Hampton. Excerpted by permission of Urban Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.