A Butler ChristmasBy: Rahiem Brooks
A Naim Butler Romantic Suspense, Volume 1
Five Months Earlier
WITH JUST UNDER TWO years left in his second term as president of the United States, Jackson Radcliffe was entertaining a request to chat from the senior New York Senator, James MacDonald. Both men sipped neat Johnnie Blue doubles from glasses specially commissioned for the president from Swarovski, engraved with the American flag.
"So, Mr. President, how's your Latin?" MacDonald asked and shook Evian ice cubes which rattled against the crystal glass. Clank-Clankity-Clank.
"Awful," Radcliffe said, taking a seat on the sofa across from MacDonald in the Oval Office.
"Certainly, you know quid pro quo, though?"
"Funny," the president said through a weak smile. "I do know that one."
Good, thought the senator, then I don't need to remind you of my efforts that helped get your legacy-making Affordable Care Act passed in a bi-partisan senate. "You're the first president to visit a federal prison and talk to inmates. Just last week you gave a glowing and flowery speech on Crime Justice at the NAACP Convention in Philadelphia. A speech that later had Bill admit that while he was in office he signed into law a legislation that caused an overwhelmingly obvious racial disparity with respect to prison terms and continues to cripple the Black community."
"Is there a compliment in there somewhere, Senator?” the president asked as he leaned back on the sofa, and crossed his legs. "I doubt you've come this far for that."
"Funny," Senator MacDonald said through the same weak smile that the president had just offered him. "I'll get to the point."
"Great." The president looked at his watch.
"I'm announcing my run to replace you, and I'll need your help to win the nomination."
"I see," Radcliffe said flatly. Clank-Clankity-Clank.
"Republicans will focus on immigration; thank God for Donna Lincoln. On our side, Chang and Johnson will have to focus on explaining their history and records during the primaries. And, then, there's me, the liberal-conservative Democrat concentrating on day one in office criminal justice reform which work in tandem with reducing the prison population and the money saved will be diverted to improve education and keep your beloved Radcliffe-Care around. I have vetted," he paused and handed the commander a file, "a New Yorker that I'd like you to expunge and seal his criminal record using your pardon authority."
"And why would I do that?"
"So that he can take the bar exam and become a criminal defense lawyer, and potentially a politician if he desires such a place in our government."
"Why would I be involved in that? That's not my job, and doesn't seem to be high up on the list of quid pro quo I'd expect from you."
Caution. The president had a reputation of being prone to it. He wasn't a risk taker. No gray area with the Blue Dog Democrat from Illinois. It was black and white; a bona fide reflection of his bi-racial heritage.
"Precisely why you're going to do it. It's low on the pole. The action, though, carefully reported in the major newspapers and news networks will carry favor with Black and other minority voters. They'll see me as a champion of the underdog and second chances."
"Interesting. Why this Naim Butler guy?"
"He'll go on and fight injustice. He wants to do it now, but he can't because he can't argue in court because he's not a lawyer. His mentor and confidante, Max Devers, will see to it that Butler works with me to get the job done. He'll be my Martin Luther King to Lyndon Johnson. We will get the job done."
"What job?" The president wasn't convinced.
"As you know with Hilary being a former New York senator, she's undoubtedly banking on winning the state in the primary. I need to make a strong statement to thwart that and in a blue state like New York, I’ll have to make an appeal to minorities through action. Not lip service. That's a tough job."
"I could be wrong, but this could back fire, as your work could actually work. Pun intended. What am I missing?"
MacDonald, the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee was an expert at staying off the radar. His sudden desire to be thrust into the spotlight of a presidential campaign forced Radcliffe to proceed with uncertainty. MacDonald was a country club, white boy, with a Cuban housekeeper, and his sudden interest in minority affairs would be loved if he netted real results. Radcliffe knew MacDonald figured that he was in charge of this conversation, but he knew otherwise. If the senator went down this path, Radcliffe would see to it that he played along for the long haul. Radcliffe was Monte Hall and MacDonald could not ignore doors number two and three, once he opened door number one. Of course, this because MacDonald was fully aware of the impact of quid pro quo. It never ended.