President Tim Gardner's approval rating plummeted from 40% to 15% overnight. Previous allies and even friends were distancing themselves. Even the GOP seemed to have disowned him. But his problems were far from over. In fact, they were just beginning.
For one thing, the First Lady took it upon herself to get to the bottom of it. Using the pseudonym of [Lady1], she sent a private message via secure line to [And Justice For All]: "Incredible video, AJFA! Very revealing!"
AJFA: "Thank you, Lady1."
L1: "But the video seems to be cut off rather abruptly. Is there more to it than meets the eye?"
AJFA: "Why would you want to know?"
L1: "Just curious."
AJFA: "As in nosy?"
L1: "No. Let's say, I have a personal stake in the matter."
AJFA: "How so?"
L1: "First of all, could you tell me why you released the video?"
AJFA: "For truth, and nothing but the truth."
L1: "And not for money?"
AJFA: "How? The video has been duplicated a million times out there. My original is worth nothing."
L1: "I was talking about extortion."
AJFA: "I think your question defeats itself. Would an extortionist just go ahead and expose, or threaten to expose?"
L1: "What about sensationalism? Did you have to do it quite so publicly?"
AJFA: "I was responding to the president's claim, in the public arena that he had set for himself - the Washington Post, remember? As for sensationalism, if the lie it exposes is itself sensational, then I guess so would be the truth behind it,whether it wants to be or not."
L1: "But why this particular lie? It's just a little white lie told by a little man wanting to look bigger than he is. This kind of lie is told around the world a million times a day."
AJFA: "A lie told by Joe Blow on Main street versus the same one told by a spiritual leader or a public figure people look up to, or in this case a head of state, are orders of magnitude apart. This one, however innocuous it may seem, is a huge lie based upon the stature of the person who told it, and one which cannot be allowed to go down in history uncontested."
L1: "Unfortunately for me, I can't disagree with anything you said. But please, back to my original question, is there anything other than what you have released to the public?"
AJFA: "Yes, there is, but I deem it unfit for public exposure."
L1: "And why is that?"
AJFA: "It is a matter of decency."
L1: "You mean that whatever it is, it is something even more indecent than that lie of his?"
AJFA: "In a manner of looking at it, yes."
L1: "I would like to view it, if I may."
AJFA: "Something you just said puzzle me. You said, 'Unfortunately, for me'. Why's that?"
L1: "Because I will have to pick up the pieces you have left behind. I cannot just walk away from it like a disappointed spectator tearing up a $20 ticket. I cannot divorce myself from it."
AJFA: "I'm afraid I don't follow. May I know who I am speaking to?"
L1: "If you will tell me who you are, I will tell you who I am."
AJFA: "I might already know who you are. 'Lady1' means 'First Lady', correct? If so, pleased to meet you, Mrs. Gardner. If not, you can fling me back a big LOL."
L1: "Well, can't say you're not good. So, you win this round. I guess you won't have to divulge your identity after all. All I can ask for now is that you keep this call confidential."
AJFA: "Too bad I'm stuck with the nick name 'And Justice For All', Mrs. Gardner, so I feel honor-bound to tell. My one request back to you is the same - confidentiality."
AJFA: "My name is Mark. I'm a Canadian. I will give you my full name once mutual trust has been established."
L1: "Thank you, Mark. Now why would a Canadian delve into American affairs?"
AJFA: "It is not Canadian or American, Mrs. Gardner. It is a world citizen delving into a global affair. In this day and age, nations are but parts of a single planet, however internally discordant it may be, and all things are interconnected. In any case, Mrs. Gardner, given your country's own surveillance program, it would not serve your interest for me to send the video by email. I will find some way to give you the original memory chip. And, to totally clarify my intention, I will do it for free. You name the way, and I will do all I can to oblige. The simplest way could be that I simply destroy the original memory chip from my camera. End of story."
L1: "No. I want to see it. But I don't want anyone to know about this but you and me. Could you bring it to the White House in person?"
AJFA: "You are asking me to voluntarily walk into the dragon's lair?"
L1: "Tell you what. Make a copy of the video and keep it for safe-measure. You could ask someone to release it to the media if you don't return within a few hours."
AJFA: "I don't think that would be necessary, Mrs. Gardner. If I do that, how would it essentially differ from extortion? We have to work on trust. I will bring you the video unconditionally."
L1: "Then you will have to give me your full legal name. The guards will be asking to see your passport."
AJFA: "I am Mark Lee, Ph.D."
L1: "Thank you, Dr. Lee. I'm grateful."
AJFA: "Just please don't shoot the messenger."
L1: "I won't. I promise. When can you make it here?"
AJFA: "I'm not in your country right now. I won't be there until this weekend."
L1: "Would Sunday 3 pm suit you?"
AJFA: "I'll be there."
LI: "Just ask to see me. And, by the way, I would like to suggest that we delete this conversation on both ends."
AFJA: "I concur."
L1: "May I say something before I hang up?"
AFJA: "Of course."
L1: "I think I trust you."