He sat, slumped, in the chair behind the desk in the Oval Office. They'd need to find someone to fill this chair. Not the Vice President, of course. They'd get themselves a nice young handsome man, someone who did what he was told. Though, maybe the next one shouldn't be a complete idiot. That had gotten unmanageable after a while. But they couldn't use the Vice President. They'd cite "health reasons". He snorted, smirking. Not too far from the truth, and the old man had work to do before the end. He couldn't very well do it while having to get up and talk to the idiot people. No, they'd find someone else.
He stood up, considering turning on the TV. It wouldn't have made the news yet. It was done, that he knew, but it wasn't time yet for the people to know. They'd release it with just enough time for the evening news, but not enough time for a bunch of probing questions. There had been vague rumors floating around the Internet for a few hours, but no real news. That would change when he was good and ready. He set the remote down. Not time yet.
There were some who'd been wary of the idea. They thought it was too much. Too...severe. Maybe it was. But with the war going the way it was, and the total cockup of that stupid disaster... hell, things had been going downhill for a while, but that really pushed it over the edge. So, yeah. It was severe. Maybe even a bit much. But he didn't see much other way out of this. He had to think of the party. He had to consider the agenda.
Their boy was a good sport about it though. More so than he'd thought. He figured there would be resistance, a refusal at first, maybe even some crying. But no. He'd forgotten how happy the boy was when he was able to act like a hero, when he got to fly in a real jet and everything. Man, speaking of cock-ups. They didn't get half the mileage out of that one that they should have. Maybe that had been their first warning. At any rate, the boy was just excited he'd get to shoot real guns at some real Arabs. He wasn't thinking about the bomb they'd have strapped to one of the "terrorists". By the end of their conversation, he'd forgotten that unpleasant detail altogether. The boy was excellent at forgetting unpleasant details.
He paced the room a bit, thinking. He'd run some preliminary numbers, and he knew they'd see a solid bounce in the immediate aftermath. The opposition and the media would be quiet out of respect, and they'd just craft the legend. Oh sure, a couple of bloggers and that schmuck on Comedy Central might make some noise, but he was confident the talking points would drown them out. The kid in the press room did great indignant outrage, so he'd have no trouble shooting down any unhelpful questions.
He smiled. Death was always handy. Particularly if it's one big death, rather than a whole mess of little people. Suburban voters tend to get worked up when the little people die en mass. They don't seem to care much more about them in the day-to-day than he does, but kill a whole bunch of them, and damn do the middle class get riled.
But one death? One big death? Well, that just shuts them right the hell up.
So that's what they'd get. One big death to lament and fetishize and film retrospectives over. Then he and his gang could get back to work. The old man wanted to instate martial law, but he wasn't sure that was a good idea. This would get the media back in their pocket, and they'd keep the fodder in line. Better they had the assumption of freedom, than to give them something to fight for by taking it away.
He sighed. He had to admit, he was going to miss the boy. That guy was a hell of a lot of fun to hang around with. But, nothing for it now but to turn on the TV and watch their fortunes turn.
There was a click, and a vapid young-ish blonde anchorwoman was attempting to emote for the camera. "Tragedy struck aboard Air Force One today in a scene officials are calling 'something out of a Harrison Ford movie'." She paused. "Unfortunately, this story...does NOT have a Hollywood ending."
He smiled and switched to another channel. It was on all of them, and they were all striking the same tone, even using the "Hollywood ending" line he'd written.
His smile only grew the more he saw of the smoking wreckage of the plane, juxtaposed with pictures of his boy.
It was times like this that made his job worth doing.