SPOILERS: The Fall's Gonna Kill You
DISCLAIMER: If they were mine, I'd have shown this
stuff in the first place. ;)
SUMMARY: dithyrambic: any wild, frenzied, or
emotional speech or writing.
THANKS: To Jo, for the wonderful comments, and for
cracking me up with the seeds of the satirefic. And I
blame this entirely on Morgan, for jokingly suggesting
that I round out the trio of post-ep viewpoints. You,
my friend, are evil. :)
My fellow Americans, good evening. I'm so grateful to
have this chance to explain why I--
Sam paused, staring at the blinking cursor on the
computer screen. He needed a verb. Every sentence
needs a verb. Every political speech needs an
appropriately ambiguous verb to conceal the true
motives of the speaker.
He scanned the scant words, then glanced down at his
hands, noting with a sort of detached interest that
they were poised above the keyboard, shaking.
He flexed his fingers, curling them into tense fists,
then stretched them back to their proper position.
Fascinated, he watched his hands tremble and wondered,
What the hell am I doing here?
In his seat, Sam winced at the sound of his name.
Then, blithely ignoring the fact that he'd
acknowledged the greeting by flinching, he attempted
to will the man standing awkwardly in the doorway
"Sam? Are you--" Toby stopped, shuffled his
tried again. "Did you talk to the President?"
"The President," Sam answered bitterly, "as
did the lion's share of the talking. Of course, once
he said 'I have M.S.,' I was too floored to come up
with much in the way of witty repartee."
Toby shifted a bit, edging into the office.
said, his tone low and full of warning.
Fed up, Sam finally stood and faced Toby. "Oh,"
said, "right. I'm not supposed to get mad about this.
Sam doesn't get mad. Sam's Mr. Happy Guy, so we can
just not tell him for, like, days while he wanders
around here, clueless so we can snicker at him--"
"Sam," Toby interrupted sharply. "That's
Hands on hips, Sam glared. "Then why?" he
his voice still on the skinny edge of shouting. "Why
didn't the President sit us all down at once when you
started sniffing around this? Hell, why didn't *you*
mention your suspcicions to me?"
"I did," Toby answered quietly. "I asked
you and Josh
about Hoynes offering--"
"To smack down Big Oil," Sam scoffed with a wave
his arm. "You didn't tell us about the polling. You
didn't tell us you thought Hoynes was gearing up to
Toby watched him for a long moment, then nodded. "I
"Why didn't you *tell* us?" Sam shouted.
Toby blinked. Then he said, very quietly, "Is it
really me that you're mad at, Sam?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't want to talk about this
"No, Toby," Sam insisted. "Not now."
Toby stood there for a moment, considering, then
Sam watched him go, then turned his attention back to
the white screen and reread his work. He held down
the backspace key with grim pleasure and wiped out
what he'd written.
My fellow Americans, I wanted this opportunity to
speak with you tonight so that I could explain
something to you, something that perhaps I should have
explained during my campaign for the Presidency. So
that you would be able to understand why I--
Sam scrubbed a hand over his face and slumped back in
He can't do this, he thinks, not tonight.
Not with Toby huddled in the next office, listening
for sounds of distress, or anger, or sorrow.
Not with CJ gone home early--CJ, leaving early!--to
contemplate the possibility that she could be the
Bartlet Administration's sacrificial lamb.
Not with Josh wandering around, secretive and
quiescent instead of swaggering and boisterous.
Not with Leo and the President being so goddamned
Decisively, Sam pressed alt-F4 and closed the
word-processing program entirely, relishing the idea
of his pedantic attempts being stranded, small,
unloved ones and zeros wiped from the hard drive.
Then, his movements precise and almost brittle, as if
he were overcompensating so as not to lose control,
Sam closed his laptop and pushed it away.
Eyes closed, he rested his face in his hands and
concentrated on breathing. In. Out. He didn't have
to think about anything, so long as he just stayed
focused on breathing. In--
"Go away," Sam answered tiredly.
"Sam, I want to talk to you."
"Well, that's just too damn bad, Josh, because I
want to talk to you. Why don't you go chat with
Batman there," he answered, one hand swinging in the
general direction of Toby's office.
Josh almost grinned. "Batman?"
"Josh," Sam warned.
"I was right where you are now five days ago,"
Sam jerked his head up. "Fine," he said,
in five days and maybe I'll be ready to talk. Right
now, I have work to do."
Josh hovered in the doorway, brow furrowed. "I
thought the Chicago thing--"
"Chicago's done, Josh," Sam answered angrily.
not talking about--Someone needs to write the
Josh's mouth tightened, but he shook his head.
Sam shrugged carelessly. "Semantics. Do you know how
many synonyms I can come up with for 'lie'?"
Sam shoved his chair back, standing to face him.
"Falsehood. Untruth. Prevarication. Farrago. Yarn.
Tall tale. Exaggeration. Fraud. Swindle. Humbug.
Fabrication. Concoction. Disinformation.
Josh took two steps into the office and closed the
door behind him. "Sam--"
"Confabulation. Mendacity. Misstatement. Canard.
Distortion." He shrugged. "A crock of shit."
Josh watched Sam, breathing hard after his recitation,
and said quietly, "You can't use any word that implies
Sam sneered. "Josh, I'm not an idiot." He was
far gone to care that the person he was angry with was
not in the room. Josh was convenient enough. "I've
been doing this a little while. I understand how it
works. I could sit down right now and write ten
statements that would leave you with ten wildly
different impressions of the same set of events."
"No, Josh. I could write a weak man who just wanted
to be President. I could write a man whose
judgment--and, consequently, brain function--is
questionable at best. I could write a couple
different versions of a man whose strings are
controlled by others--his wife, possibly his old
friend who convinced him to run for President. Or, my
personal favorite, I could write you a scheming,
Machiavellian bastard whose ambition and lust for
power far outweighed his morals."
Josh stared at Sam in the sudden silence. "That's not
Sam laughed mirthlessly. "None of it's true, but it
doesn't matter. I don't need to write those versions,
because the Republicans have their own speechwriters."
"I know," Josh said, glancing away.
Sam nodded to himself. "But you know what I can't
Josh shook his head in lieu of an answer.
"I can't write a good, honest man who made what
probably looked like a small decision, but which now
looks more like a massive, deliberate fraud against
the American public. I can't write that, Josh,
because it's unbelievable. Implausible." Sam
stopped, suddenly out of words, and leaned one hip
against the desk.
"He's not a saint," Josh said after a time.
Sam just glared at him. "I'm not an idiot," he
repeated. "And I never expected him to be a saint."
Josh held Sam's gaze for a moment, then nodded. "I'll
be in my office."
Sam stared in the direction of Josh's retreating back,
then glanced at his desktop. He grabbed a pad from
the blotter and a pen from his pocket.
My fellow Americans, I have always tried to live my
life as an honest, decent man. Growing up in rural
New Hampshire, my parents and my priest instilled in
me values I hold sacred to this day. Thou shalt not
lie, my parents told me, and I have done my best to
follow their teachings. I am, though, only a man, and
I believe that I have erred. In my desire to draw
distinct lines between my personal and professional
spheres, I have kept the facts to myself about
something that may, I now believe, be relevant to my
Eight years ago...