Edge of Apocalypse: pages 323-326 (Chapter Fifty-Five)
This part of the chapter deals with the Vice-President Jessica Tulrude. I’m getting this out a day early as my schedule’s kinda weird this week and I want to leave room for a possible Thursday update to touch base with John Gallagher and Rocky Bridger, who we haven’t seen in some time, in book time.
Madam Vice President is going over stuff with her chief of staff, Lana Orvilla. Ms. Orvilla seems a mite agitated, and brings up the fact that the Senators caved to Josh over the subpoena thing. Tulrude, we remember, had a deal where she’d nominate Straworth to Chief Justice if he’d go after Josh Jordan.
Deal’s off now.
“Well,” Lana tried to suggest, “doesn’t this back-tracking by the senators hurt them much more than you…I mean–“
“Are you crazy?” Tulrude shrieked. “I’ve been the one telling the president to say that we don’t need exotic defense weapons systems. My language exactly. That’s the official White House position that’s been given to the media. We’re promoting defense budget cuts, remember? We are also concerned about international criticism over our nuking those North Korean ships with their own missiles. About the potential for civilian casualties if we use this RTS again in the future. We’ve taken sides in this political catfight. We took sides against RTS. Against Joshua Jordan’s defiance of Congress. Remember, Lana, I’m running for president soon. You keep forgetting that.”
As you can see, the book wastes no time resuming its portrayal of Tulrude as one of those nasty shrieking harpies. Orvilla, however, seems too agitated for just a rumination over the political consequences of the subpoena thing.
Remember way back when we saw Ivan Teretsky reveal that he’d gotten a frantic phone call? Three guesses who made it, and the first two don’t count:
“On the day of the attack on New York City,” Lana began, “when we first found out that the missiles were coming. You had enough confidence in me to include me in your briefing with the Pentagon. Things were scary that day. I have to admit I was pretty frightened–“
“This isn’t a rerun of the Oprah show, Lana. Where’s this going?”
“I have a brother…don’t know if I ever told you this. He works in New York. Manhattan. He’s a tech engineer for a radio program.”
“So I was worried about my brother, Ted, who works for the Ivan Teretsky radio show in New York. The radio host’s nickname is Ivan the Terrible…”
Now Jessica Tulrude was starting to put the pieces together. She stared at her chief of staff with a horrified look, now allowing her to finish her awful confession.
“You gave classified information to a talk-show host! Do you realize that? And what’s worse, the reason you tried to call your brother was because you heard me say that RTS is our only hope but I didn’t think it was going to work. That means that I knew that RTS was going to be used. That means that they can prove that the White House authorized RTS, you idiot! If someone traces that call from you to this radio guy, it’s going to reach back to me. It’s going to destroy me politically!”
Poor Lana. She’s probably going to get chucked under the bus for this, all because Parshall had Tulrude trying to deny that she’d ever actually 100% gone against authorizing the RTS-RGS:
“I was worried about him, that’s all. In the private meeting with White House staff after the two-minute Pentagon briefing, you said basically…’The Pentagon’s going to green-light this RTS weapon and use it against the North Koreans. I don’t think it’ll work, but what choice do we have?’…”
“I never said that.”
“Madam Vice President, you did say that, almost word for word–“
“Well, even if I really did say that, I didn’t say it–if you know what I mean. Lana, in our letter to Senator Straworth’s committee, we said that the White House did not authorize the use of RTS, nor did we know it was going to be used. We can’t now say, oh, gee, sorry we lied, just kidding–“
Yeah. I’d say y’all’s goose is cooked, Madam VP and underlings.
That said, this is entirely too absurd. Why would the White House both authorize use of this experimental missile redirection system and then not want to document it? An unprovoked nuclear attack, by any of the laws of war, would put the US entirely in the clear regarding any and all acts of self-defence. There is no way the Corland Administration would have been seen as doing anything but acting in the best interests of the USA in keeping New York from being nuked.
Even if they want to trade the RTS system for mucho dinero down the road, any non-bizarro reading of the powers of the US government would indicate that given that it was produced by a contractor under the aegis of the US military under Pentagon procurement rules, the government pretty well already owns it, free and clear, and can do as it likes with it.
That’s not the only revelation, though! Remember those weird problems Corland had?
Orvilla stammered a little and said, “But…but the president was responsible for making the decision, wasn’t he? Not you–“
“The president had just suffered another one of his blackouts, you imbecile. Don’t you remember? Are you brain-dead?”
Ah-HA! So that’s why Tulrude was so confident Corland wouldn’t run again and that she could take his place. The man is medically unfit to be President and it’s being hushed up for some reason. In-teresting.
“No. You never did [say he was having blackouts]. You’ve told me he was ‘indisposed.’ ‘Unavailable.’ ‘Dealing with personal issues.’ On that day when the missiles were coming you simply told me to ‘shut up’ when I asked why the president wasn’t in those meetings.”
Jessica Tulrude studied her chief of staff closely. She felt a very personal sense of rage wash over her as she entertained her political dilemma. Just one more dangerous person I will now need to control.
Well, we already know she’s one of those go-getters, but the sheer venality and base attitudes Tulrude has been exhibiting is obviously intended as a sideswipe against Democratic Administrations, suggesting that if only Pack McHenry and his band of American faithful could put their intended (obvs, Republican) President in power, all would be the bee’s knees!
Incidentally, I think the next two books are using this as their jump-off point because in either “Thunder of Heaven” or “Brink of Chaos”, the blurb actually mentions that Josh Jordan is trying to agitate to get a preferred person into the Presidential office and of course big meanies don’t want that person to become President.
*sigh*, LaHaye and Parshall. Ax-grinding is not very fun when you’re doing it so openly.