“So, here’s the situation from what Dodd has told me. First of all, the cougar isn’t a major threat, it’s likely gone off searching for easier morsels. As long as we keep our guard up and no one wanders off we should be ok as far as that goes. He seems much more concerned about a fire that sprung up overnight from a lightning strike. He said he’ll be back by 1030.”
“So we’re still not supposed to take down the tents?” Jones asked, looking at the tents and then scanning the horizon for the telltale plumes of smoke.
The former president, and now husband of the sitting president watched Jones as he scanned the horizon and realized that they might be in over their heads.
An independent moderate, he had made a fortune in the retirement industry, first in selling mutual funds and retirement plans, and then in a national chain of retirement communities. It had been a good life, but he’d wanted more, he’d wanted to secure retirement for everyone, not simply wealthy clients, and so had his wife, a state representative in Wisconsin. It was a strange life they’d led, her representing the extreme northern suburbs of Chicago in another state while he’d built an empire across the country all out of offices in Wrigley Ville. Even though his official residence was there on Chicago’s north side, most weekends had been spent in Kenosha with his wife, while most of his week days had been spent in the back of a Lear Jet visiting communities around the country.
With the advent of boomer retirement his fortune, and his influence had blossomed like a carpet of wildflowers in the desert after the rain. Something like 8% of the nation’s retirees either lived, or had investments with his companies and as in all past generations retirees made up a disproportionately large part of the electorate. He had found the one way to guarantee Social Security for the Boomers and their children and grandchildren. But it was controversial. Very controversial in fact, to the point that he had to become a political candidate. It wasn’t something he’d ever really wanted for himself, not in the way his wife had sought it out from the time they first met at the University of Chicago. His political career had taken him directly to the White House, skipping the usual steps of Congress or a governorship. But he had been a single term president. Which was something he’d campaigned on. He had run on a single plank, fixing and saving Social Security, and somehow won. And they’d done it. So he returned to the North Side of Chicago and begun the traditional foundation and library that somehow had become expected of former presidents in the last part of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st. He was fortunate in that he had his own fortune to use for it, and no one was filing FOIA suits every week to see where the donations were coming from. But after all, his own company had been a major benefactor from the S.S.O.I.L. bill (Social Security Office of Intentional Liens) it having paid for the retirements of millions of baby boomers who otherwise might have worked nearly forever.
And now, to further his wife’s career as the first female president he was out in a forest in the mountains in Colorado, trying to look the part of a man’s man, leading a group of boys on a backpacking trip.
But his leadership was for appearances. Dodd was the one really leading the trip. And while he carried his own pack he wasn’t any more in charge then the 14 and 15 year olds around him. And now Dodd was away, and people were looking towards him, as if he knew what to do.