“Aren’t you the gent from Country Dandy Quarterly?” I called out from behind the wheel to the man in the white linen suit, slouching near the short-term parking at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
“Still have time for fucking badinage?” Slats replied, sneering but not angrily. “You going to pop the trunk or not?”
Moments later, he was arranged in the passenger seat of my post-post vintage Honda. “I can’t believe you are still driving this thing,” he remarked. “You know how difficult it is to travel from La Paz to Washington County? And we have to ride in this?”
“Paid off since ’06. And the cassette player still works. You like Billy Squier right?”
He grumbled unintelligibly, but with zest, for a few seconds before rolling down his window and leaning back to feel the highway air.
After composing himself, he sighed and asked, “You back on that board again?”
“The Wilde Lake Village Board, yes. Got appointed to serve another term,” I responded matter-of-factly.
“Totally volunteer deal, right?”
“Yeah Slats, it’s not a paid gig.”
“Ha. Sucker,” he snorted.
“You’re just jealous because I don’t get run out of town every couple of years,” I paused. “So, what’s the latest? You were vague on the phone.”
“Oh yeah,” he perked up, glancing around the interior of my ride, no doubt looking for listening devices or perhaps loose change. “I need you to drive me to the airport again Thursday night…if you can…I need to be in Orlando on Friday.”
“What’s down there? Disney contract? Jonesing for Epcot?”
“Nah. Libertarian National Convention. Helping out the Johnson/Weld ticket.”
“So you are going from semi-retirement to that? So when did the patron saint of lost causes suggest you get in touch with Governor Johnson?”
“Listen,” he said, holding up a finger for emphasis, “I’m getting a good month-by-month flat rate, a win bonus if he gets the nomination, and a deal where I get a nice structured pay-out for every million votes he gets over 2 million in the general. And if he wins…”
“A dresser full of ascots?” I interrupted.
“Oh ye of unrefined sartorial sensibilities,” he shook his head, continuing. “You have two polarizing presumptive major party nominees with high unfavorables. Clinton will run base-plus with heavier outreach to Latinos as well as independent and moderate Republican women. Trump will try to consolidate the Republicans who can stand his bombast and trade policy heterodoxy as well as drive up votes among white blue collars who might otherwise tune out of this election. Both, right now, are weaker among Millenials, who are a natural libertarian constituency. You combine a social progressive with fiscal restraint in one candidate, get Johnson on the debate stage with those two, and the dynamics can flip overnight. Say what you want, Johnson is ten times more qualified than Perot was, and twenty times saner.”
“So what’s in it for you long-term? If you serve in a Johnson Administration, doesn’t that mean you have to move back to the States?”
“Maybe so,” Slats replied. “Can’t run Treasury from rural Guatemala. Spotty email access.”
We both fell into silence, focusing on the road. Heading eastbound on 70, with the sun setting in my rearview mirror, the prospect of Secretary MacCune was undeniably absurd, but only 99.9% impossible in this freakish year. The margin that was left was sufficiently disquieting for the remainder of the drive to Columbia.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.