Sure, it was full of a million holes. Would my platform even fit into the DNC? And running someone else’s campaign didn’t really improve the lifestyle of being a politician. But it proved he’d been listening all these years, even if it was just to convince me to run his campaign. I’d given up on his listening years ago.
“So what’d’ya think?” He asked with that same gape tooth smile.
“I’d want to know the parameters,” I responded.
“What do you mean?” That wasn’t the answer he was expecting.
“Look, if this was my campaign, I doubt the DNC would be knocking down my door to ask me to run. So what are the constraints I’m working in? Before it becomes a problem.”
“It’s already a problem. I went in day one and told them I’m a Blue Dog.”
“You’re not,” I quipped.
“I told them I was. And I told them I was running Pro-life.”
“I didn’t even know you were…”
“Listen,” he answered back with a seriousness that caught me off guard, “you’ve always been better at this stuff.”
I know he was saying that because he wanted me to do something, but what made it dangerous was that it was true.
“I don’t have it all figured out, and I need someone like you to run the policy shop. You’d have a lot of freedom.”
Normally that kind of pitch would have a build to it, a sort of crescendo. Instead it rambled and drifted, ending with that word freedom hanging like a dangling participle.
I let it hang, trying to wrap my mind around the whole thing. No sense trying to explain what I thought before I knew myself.
My initial reaction was skepticism. Our friendship, close as it had been when we were younger, had always had ample competition. This felt a little bit like that, like using our friendship. Like the whole point of running was just so he could be my boss. But of course, that was silly. Maybe it was just about him getting there first.
I took a few breaths, a moment to myself to try to figure out what I was thinking. I was turning the idea over in my mind, much like I would turn over the first sip of a fine wine in my mouth, trying to distinguish it from the cheaper years I was accustomed to.
Is this any different? I asked myself. I’d been asked to run half a dozen campaigns, asked to write a dozen more. Was this any different? My head said no. Another politician with some ability, some honesty, who was willing to code control of this policy if it meant winning. But my heart was holding out childhood premises.
I realized that we had been silent for quite some time. It was a habit I had picked up by doing research by myself. Not losing myself, but girding myself in the silence. Wrapping it around me. Using it to keep me warm.
He hadn’t picked up the same habit. His foot was tapping, racing really, under the table. But he still knew me well enough not to interrupt.
“I’ll do it,” I said. My lips pursed, but curling into a smile.
He broke into a wide grin and said, “We’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.”
I wondered if that was true.