Prologue to Moonshine, a new novel by John Haslam
State of the Union Address – Joint Houses of the United States Congress – 2017
The House Sergeant-At-Arms opened the large, heavy, dark glass paneled doors to the chamber of the United States House of Representatives and shouted in a thunderous voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”
The newly-elected president proudly walked down the center aisle of the chamber, shaking hands with dignitaries, steadily plowing toward the podium. Senators and Congressmen clamored to get close enough to the center aisle as the President moved by, hoping to be captured by the television cameras with the new Commander-In-Chief.
Slowly and confidently, straight-backed and jaw jutting, the President parted the crowd and bounded up the steps leading to the podium. The President smiled broadly, shaking hands with William Wyckoff, the Vice President, who presides over the Senate. Wyckoff smiled, leaned over the desk in between the two and bear hugged the President. Next, Lucinda Ebersole, the Speaker of the House, smiled at the President and also hugged the new leader of the free world. After the greetings from the Vice President and the Speaker, the President turned and looked out at the House chamber filled with Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Judges, military dignitaries and the largest press gathering in the history of the event. The annual winter tradition of the President addressing the joint sessions of Congress had not generated this much excitement since Woodrow Wilson re-started the ceremony back during World War One. Thomas Jefferson had suspended the act of speaking in person to the joint session when he was President, declaring it reminded him too much of the King of England addressing Parliament. Jefferson began sending his State of the Union Address to the group instead of appearing personally. Every President after Jefferson had followed suit until Wilson bucked the trend and brought back the tradition. It had happened each year since then, but this year was different.
The Speaker of the House hammered the wooden gavel three times to settle the crowd, but no one paid any attention to her. This would normally irritate the Speaker, but not on this day. She just smiled and hammered several more times, each blow getting louder and louder until the crowd gave in to her authority.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in all my years as a public servant, I never imagined being given an honor this great. Now, as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United State of America, it is my very great pleasure to introduce to you the first woman president of the United States, Ms. Stephanie Roosevelt-Hill.”
Again the auditorium erupted with wild applause. The standing ovation lasted for five minutes before the President could speak. Roosevelt-Hill looked resplendent in her first televised appearance as the new President. She decided to let the audience cheer for a while before she started her speech. She had worked hard for this moment and she was actually enjoying the attention. She knew the honeymoon with Congress would probably end shortly. She wanted to take in all she could. When she tried to end the ovation after about a minute by raising both her arms, the cheers got louder and louder. It was like a football crowd reacting to a great come-from-behind win by the home team. Those cheering didn’t want to stop. It was easy to imagine the mob lifting Roosevelt-Hill over their heads and carrying her around downtown Washington.
During the ovation, the television news announcers lavished her with praise, complementing everything about her, from her navy blue dress to her red high-heeled shoes, her hair style and how good her makeup looked on high definition T.V. It was the first time in the history of the event that networks had a fashion consultant on queue to speak and not just the usual political analysts.
Roosevelt-Hill had an air of confidence, a magnetic personality and dynamic aura that infected people and made them like her. She was comfortable behind the podium and her speech flowed as smoothly and as easily as honey. Her words captivated the spellbound audience from the start. Millions of onlookers throughout America felt the same way, locking eyes and ears to their television sets.
Other eyes around the world were also watching with great interest. Although everyone listened to her words, most of the crowd and viewers thought the big deal was the fact that she was a woman in a job which since its inception had been controlled by men. Few, if any, of the many reporters, television talking heads, lawmakers, dignitaries or common viewers through television gave much thought to one paragraph that was buried midway through her speech . . . 100 words that would ultimately change the world.
“Tonight, I am declaring a war on energy. We talk of terrorists and go to war to defeat terrorists throughout the world. Tonight, I am asking business leaders in our great nation – those brilliant minds that have always kept America at the forefront of technology – to help me lead this great nation in a war against energy. It is time we start fighting for our independence from an energy source that comes from foreign countries. I look forward to a day when our fuel supply will come from renewable sources, like corn and other plants, the wind, and the sunshine.”
Causes John Haslam Supports
I support the Constitution of the United States of America.
I support St. Jude's Hospital.
I believe in GOD.