THIS TIME AROUND 

by Tige

Many 'thank you's a thousand times over to Lida Rose and her patience for proofreading this. This should have been posted in September, but, alas, schoolwork got in the way. Enjoy!

Disclaimers: These characters are owned by Aaron Sorkin and various other people, save Whitney Walstad. No copyright infringment intended.

*****

'Hail to the Chief' Daniel Concannon

Four years have passed since the Bartlet administration began its tenure in the White House. Living through those times felt as though it were actually ten years. But now, it seems only a few months. The impact of three solid years of tackled issues will influence the generations to come.

And through these times of doing good for the country, this administration has had its ignominies. Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff, faced a story that could have led to his own downfall, with dignity and strength. It was revealed that Mr. McGarry was a recovering valium addict and alcoholic. Through the aid of his friends, the closely knit Senior Staff, McGarry persevered to bolder heights.

There are always times when you when you wake up in the morning, and work is the least thing you would like to do. This is not the case, when you are able to talk with someone of the greatest minds of the country during the course of a day. The idiosyncrasies of the Senior Staff are sights to see.

I have never witnessed such colorful camaraderie between such proficient co-workers. This band of people, so unique, individually, is a perfect team: Mr. McGarry, Chief of Staff, humanly flawed, but full of integrity; Toby Ziegler, Communications Director, a man with a wry wit, and a finely tuned mind for brilliant writing; Sam Seaborn, Toby's Deputy, a man of infinite knowledge and also a great writer; Josh Lyman--Deputy Chief of Staff-a very personable guy with a zest for politics, and a great sense of loyalty; and C.J. Cregg, Press Secretary, a woman with a great deal of professionalism who finds the lighter side of things during press conferences, and carries a deep understanding of humanity.

This team, alongside of the incredibly intelligent, down to earth, and witty President, Josiah Bartlet, take on the challenge of running such an ever changing country, the United States, with optimism and courage. This combination makes the daybreak for me all the brighter. Their constant quest to make the nation a better place has elevated the level of political debate of any kind to a higher level. Among other things, this is the Bartlet legacy, the right to discuss policies with precision for the good of the country.

As we gaze into the twenty-first century, there should be no fear on the Eastern front. The country has been tended to, and continues to be done. I applaud the President on gaining another term with his seventy-two percent approval rating. As Senior White House Correspondent, I look forward to interacting with such bright and politically advantageous people as the President, and his Senior Staff for the next four years.

*****

CJ Cregg entered her office with a gleeful smile on her face, the day after President Bartlet had been re-elected. She plopped her feet on her desk to read the morning papers. CJ skimmed over most of the articles covering the re-election, with their routine wordings. She found Danny's paper, fully knowing it would be a heartfelt, and wonderful piece. Indeed, CJ was correct, she thought, after completing the article. The smile she had, broadened to a grin on upon the mentioning of her name in the article, and the kind words that entailed from the red headed reporter.

CJ's thoughts dwelled on that certain member of the Press Corps. With the President's second term fully in the bag, she felt freer than she ever did. The first term gave CJ a perpetual case of nerves. One thing that her job did not state in black and white, though was obvious, was the hindered social life. CJ did try to have one, with Danny, but was given wordless warnings from Leo and Toby that a relationship with a White House reporter, at the time, was off limits. So she kept Danny's advances welcome, and her only return in the affection were occasional business dinners, flirtations, and even more rare, kisses.

Sam slept with a call girl, unknowingly, was reprimanded (lightly) for doing so, and continued his friendship with the student/hooker working her way through Law School. He completely under ignored warnings from Toby, Leo, and even his best friend, Josh, to see the woman. Sam never fully was scolded for doing so. 'I got the scolding for his wrongdoings.' CJ thought, regressing back to the first year of the term.

This time around, things could be different, in many aspects of life. No longer was the administration worried about their approval rating, or re-election. It was all accounted for, in good time. The political agenda could be even more along the lines of what President Bartlet wanted changed for the better of the country. During the campaign for re-election, they pulled out the stops, and won the hearts of American voters, with controversial but correct Sex Education report findings, the Education Budget increase, and the long awaited erecting and unveiling of the World War II Memorial. Now, Foster Home Conditions and improvements could be addressed, after the First Lady witnessed the poor state of many of the houses. During a poll held before the election, a few questions were added on Foster Home appropriations, and a majority of states saw fit for a change. Campaign Finance Reform could be revamped, after a fully legal campaign held by the Bartlet administration.

CJ was hailed as one of the best Press Secretaries of the times, and was fully in command of the Press Room, and her counterparts. The trust shared by the Press Corps for CJ was hardly ever tainted, only occasionally during key moments to mislead any opposing nations in time of a covert operation made by the Military.

CJ fed Gail the aging goldfish, and turned in her chair to look out her window to watch the vivid colored leaves fall from the trees. Yes, now, CJ could pursue the social life that had remained elusive for the past four years with Danny.

"Hey, woman who 'carries a deep understanding of humanity'." Josh Lyman called out from behind CJ, ending the Press Secretary's heart to heart in her mind.

"Hey, man with a 'zest for politics.'" She answered back, as CJ turned around to face Josh in her seat.

"How does it feel to be a part of a second term administration?" He asked with delight.

"Like I have four more blissful years to bestow annoying barbs upon you." CJ retorted with a smile on her face.

"Hey CJ,"

"Yeah?"

"I'm just wondering. That 'using a joke as a defense mechanism' tactic still hasn't landed you a man, has it?" Josh asked, with a grin on his face.

"Shut up, Josh."

"Whatever. We have Staff in two minutes."

"I know." CJ declared, rising from her desk, to join him in stride to Leo's office.

"OK."

"How's the hangover?" CJ asked, once out of her office.

"The hangover? I don't have a hangover."

"From the looks of last night at the party, you should have." Josh opened his mouth, agape with mock hurt. As he did so, he inadvertently ran into a White House worker, and fell to the floor very quickly.

As Josh rose quickly, and stopped then to rise slowly, he admitted. "All right, the hangover is not so great."

"That's what I thought." CJ said, walking into Leo's office. Joshua slowly followed behind, being one of the last in the room, with his hand covering his aching face.

"Josh, don't you ever learn?" Sam asked his sobering friend.

"Don't start, Sam."

"All right, everybody, let's get this started." Leo announced, walking into his office that was already filled with the chipper Senior Staff, save Josh. Everyone quieted their chatter, and gave their full attention to the second in command, as far as they were concerned. "We have already congratulated ourselves silly, last night, on the impending second term. Now we have to strategize what good we are going to do in the first part of the next four years."

The gang nodded in agreement, and waited for the new strategy. Leo continued, "But before we can look to the next four years, we must wait. So we've been re-elected by the people. So what. Now we must wait for the Electoral College's votes. In the mean time, we're not going to screw up, we're going to be liked by the states that brought us to this point, and by God, we're going to win in a landslide victory in the College as we did with the people. The speeches from now until January are going to have to be more moving than ever before," Leo demanded, staring at Toby and Sam. "There will not be any blunders in the Press Room or anywhere else in the PR world." Leo boomed at CJ and Political Consultant, Whitney Walstad. "We've raised the level of public debate in this country, and by doing so, we will be once more looked over with a fine tooth comb. But we will be damned if they find anything wrong with this administration. Any questions so far?"

No one piped up. "Good. First order of business is the Foster Home reform, and also a new thing from Senator Jacobs that is sure to go under consideration on down the line: Senior Citizen Health Care. Sam, work up an opposition paper. CJ, send up a test balloon for each issue at the next briefing. Josh, you and Toby are set up for a meeting with Senator McClain to get him and other Senators like him on board for the Foster Home reform tomorrow. Work up some numbers, and get prepared for it. Whitney, keep an eye on those two so the PR standpoint will be perfect. That's it everybody, let's go to work." As the staff piled out of the office, Leo called for CJ to wait.

"Yeah, Leo?"

"At the briefing, don't try to stuff this down anyone's throats, you hear?"

"I've got it, Leo."

"Alright, I just don't want any mis…"

"I know, Leo. I have it covered." She reassured.

"OK." Leo smiled as CJ headed out of his office. CJ had it handled; she was now a true professional with years of experience under her belt. There was no need to worry about this woman whom he thought of as a daughter.

CJ again felt blissful. Leo had lost most of his reservations towards her screwing up famously. Walking down the hall, it felt good to have Leo's backing. For a great amount of time, she had lost it. 'In two months, because the Electoral College results come out in January,' CJ thought, 'I can date Danny as much as I please, and to the extent of which I'm sure will be intimate, if he still feels the same way…please. Strange, I'm an adult, and it's like I'm 15 and a half all over again, waiting until I'm sixteen so I can date. Sad.' She laughed, as she made it to her office.

Carol, who was working diligently at her desk, looked up at her boss in a strange manner. "What, CJ?"

"Oh, uh, nothing."

"The news briefing notes are on your desk, and here are some new messages."

"Thanks, Carol."

"Are you staying in, or going out to lunch?"

"Think about it, Carol: staying in."

"Right."

***** END PART I *****

 

This Time Around - 2

 

 

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