Here we go! Today we have a somewhat longer Storytime, but I just can’t bring myself to make a Mutapic for this one. I’m feeling just a little under-resourced and overextended at the moment. Anyway, we’re still in Suicide is for Mortals (aka Book 4), and picking up where last week’s episode left off. The narrator is Scanlon, telling us about the administration of President Hutchinson and the ill-advised secession of Rezarta.
Hutchinson was known, in certain corners of Congress, as Godzilla, and they didn’t mean the nickname affectionately. She was the first female president, the first openly non-religious president, and the first one to serve more than eight years since FDR. She made a surprising running mate to her predecessor, President Dale Geoffreys, who was impeached out of office due to ethics violations in 1995. Vice President Hutchinson took his place and won two terms on her own power. She had been a high school Spanish teacher before her first term in the House of Representatives, where it is rumored that she gathered blackmail-worthy information on half of Congress and part of the Senate, a skill which she continued to hone during her tenure as VP. She was aware of her controversial status as the new POTUS after Geoffreys’ impeachment, so she played it safe until after the 1996 election. Her first major risk in the office of President was to overhaul the nation’s educational system. In short, when she was finished pissing off everyone in Washington, the country actually had a national educational system. This left the Congressional GOP and many state governors huffing and puffing that she would pay the consequences of her overreach, but they had already failed to stop her, and her approval rating shot up to the low 80s when the changes were implemented in schools. Before her first full term was up, she wrangled Congress into passing single-payer healthcare, and in the throes of her second presidential campaign, she orchestrated legalization of marijuana with a system of regulations, taxes and treatment programs that effectively cut new prison sentences down to less than 40% of their previous numbers. This move was regarded by political scientists as the biggest middle finger ever issued to the cultural Right by a politician in national office.
After she won her second, and final, election to the Presidency, Rezarta declared their new status as a sovereign nation.
There was much buzz around Washington that this, finally, would be President Godzilla’s Achilles heel. It was one thing for a crafty, observant woman to make opposing politicians cooperate, but how would a mundane leader deal with magic-handlers? Hutchinson’s foreign policy up until then had mostly been to downsize the American military presence in other countries, and she was widely regarded as being talented at domestic affairs at the expense of military competence. There were plenty of sexist jokes going around the punditocracy about women in the military, but as it turned out, President Hutchinson’s response was to take all the Army and Air Force troops she’d brought home from our bases abroad and send them to Rezarta. She also had enough opportunists working for the Department of Defense to get around the Rezartans’ magical protections.
Once she was finished putting down the secession like a mad dog, she organized the Magical Resettlement Act, which assigned new homes in other parts of the country to 90% of the magic-handlers in the affected area. Many of the people in question did not go quietly, but the military didn’t leave the area until all the sorcerers were relocated. If the military intervention didn’t put an end to Reza’s pet projects and experiments, the resettlement did. There was no more experimenting on vampires or other magical creatures. I would like to say that the captive vampires who were kept quiet on donated blood were all staked before their handlers were forced to move out, but according to all accounts, the captive undead were sent out to the wilderness, where I have no doubt they are preying on the trafficked, homeless and destitute as vampires are wont to do when left unsupervised.
According to White House insiders of the time, the Resettlement was arguably the most ambitious endeavor of President Hutchinson’s already impressive career, but it was also the beginning of her downward spiral. She began showing up to Oval Office meetings drunk. She was sometimes so hung over that she couldn’t come to work, and her VP, Edward Bialik, had more to do in her stead. She muddled through her public appearances without destroying anything, she continued to sign and veto bills from Congress, and she did not enact any more major administrative changes for the rest of the term. In her second campaign, she had talked much about decriminalization of prostitution and enacting protections and regulations for sex workers, but this never came to pass.
In 2004, Bialik was elected the new POTUS, and Hutchinson managed to stay out of the bottle just long enough in January of 2005 to remain functional through his Inauguration. After seeing him into the White House, Hutchinson moved to her sister’s horse ranch in Oregon, ostensibly to spend more time with her teenage nephew and niece. For all I know, she may have been a very attentive aunt when she was not intoxicated to the point of incoherence, but she was found unresponsive one morning in mid-2007. Her sister rushed her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with stroke. After ten days without a response, her sister had her taken off life support. She was fifty-three.