Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fiction: Parts II & III of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

The author in 1974, one of his many poses
By W.M. Dean

[Note: I am chagrined to have to report that, upon dipping into the remaining manuscript of this 1974 novel set in the 1970s of Watergate, I discovered only synopses for Part II & Part III – no further completed chapters. It appears that the writer I was 42 years ago only thought he had finished writing the novel – unless he did finish it but subsequently lost the remaining chapters in his move to North Carolina, or in his move from Chapel Hill to the temporary apartment in Durham before his possibly final relocation to Mebane. In any case, all I have at present to share as this final installment of The Unmaking of the President: A Bicentennial Entertainment is the synopses of Parts II & III. I somehow don’t think these chapters are ever going to be written.
    Links to all of the novel’s extant chapters are provided at the bottom.

Part II: The Unmaking of the Vice-President
The Vice-President’s importance consists in the fact that he may cease to be Vice-President. –Woodrow Wilson
In her position as chief aide, and with Fred’s new rating, Clara moves ahead to embarrass the President and forward Fred’s political career. She anonymously mails to each television network a package of circumstantial evidence that suggests the President and the First Lady never got married.
    Clara herself doesn’t believe the suggestion – she simply hopes to give the President heat. She counsels him to ignore the charges as beneath him. He readily agrees, but public reaction escalates. Fred starts to worry, as his popularity grows.
    The President goes on television to explain why he cannot publicize his marriage license (the privacy of future Presidents, etc.). The public doesn’t buy it.
    Fred grows more anxious and tells the President he must publicize his marriage license. The President reluctantly agrees and goes on television to display the license and announce that the Government Printing Office is publishing enough copies of the license for every American to have a copy.
    There is a furor because the President won’t let experts examine the original license. Impeachment proceedings begin.
    Frantic, Fred sneaks upstairs and burgles the lock box under the President’s bed. He hands over the license and a package of love letters to Carla Burnstone.
    The Washington Post publishes the material and asserts that the license is a forgery. They are forced to disclose that the Vice-President gave them the material. The Vice-Presidents collapses.
    The President thinks he has Fred’s agreement to deny that he gave the material to the Post. On television from his sick bed, Fred, confused, and with a little help from Clara, tells the truth.
    Fred reads the Bible. As the impeachment proceedings build, he resigns his office and seeks refuge in Jesus.
    Clara buys an idea from Austin Froth and uses it to secure the President’s assent to replace her husband as Vice-President. Anyway, the President figures she’ll never be approved – he’ll be able to buy some time.

Part III: The Unmaking of the President
It is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver. –Jean de la Fontaine
The announcement of a White House wedding between the President and the First Lady slows the impeachment proceedings. The President’s favorite church minister will perform the ceremony.
    Through a set of unforeseen misunderstandings in Congress, Clara is accepted to replace Fred as Vice-President.
    The wedding takes place in the East Room. The minister tells the congregation to give any reason why the couple should not be joined, etc., or forever hold their peace, etc. Senator Wicked steps through a window from the roof of the East Terrace and proclaims that the minister is not ordained and therefore unqualified to perform the wedding.
    The minister’s protestation that it doesn’t matter, for marriages are made in heaven, doesn’t avail – the Representatives and Senators among the wedding party march down to Capitol Hill to continue with the impeachment, whose proceedings are expected to result in the President’s removal before sundown.

[Afterthought. It seems an odd coincidence that I should last year have resurrected an unpublished 1974 novel that ends with a woman becoming President of the United States, when this year it is quite possible – if not even likely – that the United States will elect its first woman president. I suppose that my muse must have been responsible for this, for I have no recollection of consciously intending the timing.]
Links to all of the known chapters:
Chapter 1. “Downstairs at the White House
Chapter 2. “Making It Happen
Chapter 3. “The Muse’s Fee
Chapter 4. “The Game Plan
Chapter 5. “Home Movies (Blue)
Chapter 6. “Keeping Up Appearances
Chapter 7. “Better to Serve You With, My Dear
Chapter 8. “The Battle of the Press Conferences
Chapter 9. “The Vice-President’s Plan Is Missing
Chapter 10. “What the Man on the Street Said
Chapter 11. “Hush Money
Chapter 12. “Addleman’s Last Tape
Chapter 13. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Farm
Copyright © 2016 by W.M. Dean


  1. Sorry it didn't get finished. When my computer and flash drive was stolen in CR I had almost finished the first rewrite of a novel I wrote years ago, while I still have the novel the rewrite is gone and like you odds are against me doing it again. I have enjoyed reading the first part however and I now know how it ends.

    1. Yes, I too remember the sick feeling I had upon hearing of he news of the theft of your computer & flash drive.

  2. A friend commented to me privately: "Quite prescient! It also has shades of the Netflix series House of Cards...."

    Ha, right! However, I seriously doubt that I merit the "prescient" accolade. More as though I absorbed the ethos of the Nixon times, as the author of the original House of Cards presumably did in Britain.

  3. Another private comment received, from a nephew: "I agree with your friend, quite prescient. I like the clever name devices you used; e.g., Senator 'Wicked,' Clara 'Noemann' - 'no man': she becomes President without benefit of being male.
        It's also interesting that a birth certificate is at the center of some controversy in your novel. It reminded me of another document that has been at the center of much discussion these past seven years, President Obama's birth certificate. More prescience!"

    Ha! I of course love another "prescience accolade," but deserve it no more than the other.