(Note: the following extremely short story is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual persons or events are purely coincidental. EJB)
The entire scam was much easier to pull off than any of them had thought. Just a week before the final steps were taken, Bill Loyd was ready to call it off. “No way we can keep a lid on this,” he said. “With all the media attention somebody’s sure to spill their guts when people get frustrated trying to enroll. Then the hounds are let loose and our asses are sure to be toasted blacker than an eight-ball.”
“You worry too much,” said Ralph McLane, chief aide to the House Minority Leader. “We’ve got this debacle on track and sealed up tight. There’s more layers to slog through they’ll never get to us, and besides, a few of the links in the chain are no longer with us”
Loyd slammed his fist on the table. “Jesus Christ, Hugh! How many times do I have to remind you to keep that kind of information the hell away from me? If the shit does hit the fan I don’t want to know all there is to know. I want to be able to deny any….”
“I understand, I know,” Ralph interrupted. “No more information than absolutely necessary. Let’s move on.”
Not fully satisfied, Loyd turned to the other two conspirators. “Before we move on, I want assurances. I want assurances once again; that this can’t come back on any of us. Dirty tricks are one thing, but what we’re doing amounts to wasting millions of tax dollars, and if….”
Ralph interrupted again. “For chrissake, Bill, we’ve done all we can. If anything, we may have sealed it up too tightly.”
Lester Tryon jumped in. “How can that be? Sealed up too tightly? That means what?
Ralph sipped his bourbon and said: “Some of the people doing the actual work are so far removed from us, the ones supposedly in control, that Pete Murdock, Dan Toohey and I are worried they might not be making the damn thing work poorly enough. We want an Affordable Care Act website nightmare, not a bump in the road.”
“And what are you doing about that?” Loyd said.
“We’ve infiltrated some of our guys into the project,” Ralph said. “Some real hard-asses with guaranteed ways to screw things up or at least make sure the contractor’s people are screwing things up. Had to convince the head honcho on the consulting team that if he wouldn’t agree to letting us drop some of our people on the team we’d pull the plug on him. Bring in somebody more cooperative.”
“And we know the contractor and his people will keep their mouths shut.”
“Right. Reason one: they are taking part in the felony. Two: no more contracts. Reason three….”
“OK, that’s enough,” Loyd said. Is the start-up still October 1?”
“Yup,” Ralph said. “I can’t wait to see the long faces over in the White House when they realize they’ve been had. The damn website will be a total disaster.”
“It better be,” Loyd said. “After all we went through to make sure the right people were picked to screw it all up. And all the money we spent doing just that.”
“And you’re sure they can’t get it fixed?” Tryon said.
“Oh they’ll probably get it fixed,” Ralph said. “But too late. It will take time and money, and while they’re scrambling to end the nightmare we’ll be pounding the drums on our campaign to take back the Senate.”
“Let’s hope you’re right,” Loyd said.
“You know I’m on the right all the time, Bill,” Ralph said. “And far enough on the right to make sure you and your friends can trust me completely. When this website fiasco gets going, there’s no telling how much damage it will do to those who have supported this so-called health care reform. It will cut their hearts out, and not just the parts that are already bleeding.”
“OK,” Loyd said. “On to the next item. How are we doing with voter registration? We can’t afford to let all those low-lifes to keep voting in those other low-lifes.”
And at that point the recorder failed.