For All Nails #285: Death of a Governor-General
by Johnny Pez and David Mix Barrington (with thanks to Noel Maurer)
After a moment's thought, Joan Kahn, also staring, said, "Grover Speigal, the Council President. Think of an older version of Skinner without the cornpone accent, and you've got him. An old-line Liberal, maybe the old-line Liberal. His main political accomplishment was preventing Dick Mason from winning re-election back in '63. He's been around forever. I think he must be nearly eighty now."
Now Enciso's attention was at last pried away from the vita. "Eighty? You chose an eighty-year-old man to succeed your Governor-General?"
Kahn sighed. "More like late 70s, and he wasn't chosen to be anyone's successor. He was chosen three years ago by the Grand Council to fill a largely ceremonial post which happens, under the Second Design, to be the designated successor to the Governor-General. It's become traditional for the majority party to choose an elder statesman for the role, like the way Monaghan chose Roswell James. And since it's been almost thirty years since a Governor-General has died in office, I suppose the Liberals weren't thinking about the possibility."
With a snort she added, "That's the trouble with the Britannic Design. Nobody ever plans ahead for anything. They make up the rules as they go along. At least here in Mexico you've got a constitution that lays it all out. One of the things the Masonists are trying to do is get the CNA a proper written constitution like you've got, instead of the half-assed improvisations we make do with."
Enciso laughed a bitter laugh. "Joan, the only difference between your government and ours is that we came up with all our half-assed improvisations all at once in 1819, instead of spread out over two hundred years. And we've been tinkering with it ever since. Hell, you were here two years ago, right? Remember El Popo's big speech on the vita? Half a dozen new articles, all at once. One big half-assed improvisation instead of a bunch of little ones. That's the way we do things here."
"I suppose it doesn't make much difference," Kahn admitted. "Anyway, the election's just four months away, so Speigal will just be keeping the seat warm for whoever wins in February."
"True," Enciso admitted. "That brings up another question. With Skinner dead, who are the Liberals going to nominate for Governor-General?"
Kahn took her time before answering. "It's an interesting question, all right. The Liberal convention's due to convene right after the new year . . . "
" . . . well, the Liberal convention will be meeting right after the new year," said Paul Markey's companion over the muted voices of the talking heads on the vita. Given who they were, it was inevitable that the conversation would turn to politics.
"The Liberal nomination?" he answered Mayor Miriam Levine. "Freeman."
She took another sip of her tequila. She liked it, Markey thought absently. A successful present, picked up at the Puerto Hancock airfield that morning. "You're sure?" she responded. "Don't you think old Grover will like being back on the job?" FN1
"For a few months, yeah. He doesn't want it for five years, and he really doesn't want to fight an election."
Levine was smiling faintly. "For the good of the party, to break a deadlock at the convention?" There was a cynicism about her, Markey knew, that he didn't share, one that came from having exercised power for so long.
"Deadlock between Freeman and who?" he said skeptically.
He shook his head. "Tomorrow morning one of them's the new Council President and the other's the Majority Leader. If either one challenges Freeman and loses, they're out of the leadership, maybe even out of the Council."
Levine pondered for a few moments, clearly unwilling to abandon her deadlock scenario. "The rest of the Cabinet?"
"Murphy and Drysdale aren't the run-for-office type, and they can keep their current jobs if Freeman wins," Markey pointed out. "Knight would be a nice candidate sometime, but not now; he's way too young, and three short years as Science Minister isn't much of a resume to run on."
Levine tried again. "A governor. MacPherson."
"MacPherson's an ex-governor, and he wouldn't bring in more than five new seats in Manitoba. More likely one or two. I don't think any of the other Liberal governors is close to ready."
"Heh. Hadn't thought of that one." The mayor of Black Rock was by no means a national figure, Paul thought. Yet.
"An exciting new face?" Levine prompted him. "He'd play well in Indiana."
Paul considered the idea carefully. Skinner's campaign had been shaping up as "Strength Abroad and Jobs at Home". Moncreiff's PC was going after the strength part and hoping the voters would look at the jobs they didn't have now and not the jobs some of them would have back by February. Against Skinner's Defence Minister, that still made sense. But what if the Liberals ran a mayor who, thanks mostly to largesse from Burgoyne, could call himself Mr. Jobs at Home? He'd like to see some numbers, but Ciepelski could easily run better than Freeman--
"I've made you stop and think!" Levine exulted.
"You always make me think. It's a good idea for them, I think. Ciepelski's better on the stump than Freeman, too. But they can't get to it, can they? I mean, who in the Liberal leadership is going to pick Ciepelski? Has he even thought about it?"
"Oh, he's thought about it," Levine assured him. That cynicism again. "But I think you're right. He doesn't have time to set up a challenge, not in the next two months. And he has too much to lose if he tries and fails. So Freeman it is." Pausing briefly, she added, "And where does that leave us?"
Levine smiled again, and this time it wasn't her cynical smile. "Actually, I was changing the subject."
Paul raised an eyebrow. "I think that tonight, we might be here for a while."
(Proceed to #286 (CNA politics, 20 October 1977): You Say You Want a Revolution.)
(Proceed to Joan Kahn: Be My Guest.)
(Proceed to Paul Markey: Machine Politics.)
(Return to For All Nails.)