I had fond memories of the faculty club from my undergraduate days at Penn. In those days the Faculty Club represented free lunches and networking opportunities. Professors always seemed to have some idea about what I could be doing.
Of course, sometimes the Faculty Club was still like that, except with me in the role of professor and some fresh-eyed undergraduate looking for an opportunity.
But more often it was meetings like this. Where one person owed the other a favor or one person had something to request of the other.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Why are you running?”
There was no pause, just a toothy grin that took me back fifteen years.
“This is what we always dreamed about. You know, the speeches, the campaigning.”
The word he left out was celebrity.
“What about when you get in office?” I asked slowly, trying not to get sucked in by his enthusiasm.
“I have some ideas.” He answered unconvincingly.
“Well, I think there are some really wasteful areas of the military, and as an ex-army guy, I have some credibility on that.”
“Well, I don’t like our carrot and stick approach to foreign policy. I think we can use PR, exchange programs, trade to bring American values where diplomacy can’t go.”
I tried to act disinterested, even stark, but I could feel a little excitement rising into my throat. But I had to get more out of him.
His face fell. He looked at me hard for a second before answering.
“Ok, so I haven’t really filled out the domestic side of my platform yet,” he cracked a smile, “that was always kind of your thing anyway.”
He was picking up steam now, as he continued, “Think of it this way; I’m the face, but you get the opportunity you always wanted. You can craft an agenda without the consequences. You won’t get the scrutiny of running, and if the platform flops, you can always say you were pushing mine.”
The trap had been sprung.