Think Tank. Copyright 2009. Samuel M. Post
This is different.Â I’ve never written a play and posted it on the blog first, before it at least had some kind of reading (and preferably a performance).Â Feedback welcome.
An office. Could have a small sign denoting the name of the organization: â€œInstitute for American Studyâ€
SMITH WONNER, a gentleman — distinguished, gray hair, flawless conservative suit and tie — sits at his desk reading.
He picks up the phone and dials.
He has a heavy, but refined, southern accent.
SMITH: Mrs. Ghondlesonni, may I see you in here for a minute.
He continues reading.
Enter JANE GHONDLESONNI. Sheâ€™s young, bright, preferably blond, pretty, and sharp. She has a huge smile with great teeth. Her business suit is conservative in color and style — but with a short hemline thatâ€™s deliberately sexy.
JANE: Good morning, Sir.
SMITH: Mrs. Ghondlesonni, Iâ€™m thinking of making a few modifications.
SMITH: A shift.
JANE: A shift, sir?
SMITH: Modifications, really.
JANE: Weâ€™ve been doing fairly well sir. The radio heads have been loving our–
SMITH: Oh oh oh oh oh — donâ€™t think Iâ€™m not pleased with your work, Mrs. Ghondlesonni. Itâ€™s been superb. Just superb. You did get the bonus check last month?
JANE: Oh, yes sir.
SMITH: Well, good.
JANE: That â€œAfrican Muslimâ€ campaign has worked out well, donâ€™t you think?
SMITH: My God, Girl! That was brilliant. Couldnâ€™t hope for any better!
JANE: Sometimes the ideas just…
SMITH: Genius! Pure creative genius!
JANE: Yet, youâ€™re thinking of making a change?
SMITH: Not a change. A modification. A additional line of attack, if you will.
JANE: Do you think the public can handle more? We know that too much noise can confuse the audience. Weâ€™re still using the â€œracistâ€ label and getting good traction out of â€œNaziâ€ and â€œSocialist,â€ donâ€™t you think?
SMITH: Traction? My girl, our polls tell us theyâ€™ve taken root! And Iâ€™ve got to hand it to you, I never thought we could pull that one off. â€œNaziâ€ and â€œSocialistâ€ at the same time! I thought that was a leap but damn if you didnâ€™t fuse those two into one powerful label — like a marriage, in which the whole is stronger than the sum of two halves. Exquisite work, Mrs. Ghondlesonni. Exquisite!
JANE: Couldnâ€™t have done it without Hitler.
SMITH: I agree. That was the glue that made the whole thing stick.
They laugh, enjoying the moment of victory.
JANE: Then, since itâ€™s working so well, are you sure you want to change, sir?
SMITH: looking at his papers Been reading a proposal here given to me by Stanley Bead.
JANE: Stanley Bead the third.
SMITH: Yes, so he is. Mr. Stanley Bead III.
JANE: Whatâ€™s he proposing?
SMITH: Itâ€™s bold. Quite bold.
JANE: Like what?
SMITH: For one thing…well…why donâ€™t we invite Mr. Bead in here and weâ€™ll just knock these ideas around for a minute?
JANE: Itâ€™s not â€œflip flopperâ€ again, is it?
SMITH: Of course not. Itâ€™s much too soon to recycle that one.
JANE: I agree, sir.
He picks up the phone and dials.
SMITH: Mr. Bead, how soon can you be in my office?
Enter STANLEY BEAD III. Sharp. Conservative. Young. Handsome.
STANLEY: Yes sir.
They shake hands and sit.
SMITH: Good to see you, Stanley.
STANLEY: And you, Sir.
SMITH: Been reading over this, and Iâ€™m intrigued.
STANLEY: Thank you, sir.
SMITH: Looking ahead. Forward thinking. I like that.
JANE: So do I.
SMITH: Of course you do. We need to always be looking around the next corner.
STANLEY: Yes sir. Glad you agree, sir.
SMITH: What Stanleyâ€™s proposing here, Mrs. Ghondlesonni, is fairly far reaching. I see a three year plan here, putting us into the heart of 2012.
STANLEY: Presidential elections are my specialty, sir. Getâ€™s my adrenalin flowing. Helps me rise to the challenge.
He smiles — almost as if heâ€™s taking a bow.
STANLEY: Flip flopper.
SMITH: Weâ€™ll always be indebted you for flip flopper, Stanley. The whole country owes you a debt of gratitude for that.
JANE: Too bad â€œpaling around with terroristâ€ didnâ€™t gain credibility. Do you remember how I reacted the first time I heard it?
SMITH: Yes — you had your doubts. I remember.
JANE: I thought it was weak then, and I still think itâ€™s weak now.
SMITH: And you were right.
STANLEY: Hey, nobody hits a home run every time at the plate!
JANE: It was a very costly mistake!
STANLEY: Obama still would have won.
JANE: Iâ€™m not so sure.
STANLEY: You still think calling him a Momma killer would have worked?
JANE: I damn well know it would have!
STANLEY: You had no narrative to go with it! None! Zip!
JANE: No narrative necessary!
STANLEY: If youâ€™re a thinairist!
JANE: I am a thinnairist — and proud of it!
STANLEY: Well Iâ€™m not! I need a hook!
JANE: Why! Thatâ€™s old school! For slow media! Things are too fast now!
STANLEY: Fundamentals are fundamentals!
JANE: And the fundamentals have changed!
STANLEY: They most certainly have not! Thatâ€™s why we call them fundamentals!
SMITH: Okay, okay!
SMITH: Thatâ€™s what I love about this institute. Vigorous debate. Wouldnâ€™t trade it for the world. But I would like to take a look at Stanleyâ€™s proposal here. Stanley thinks this health care bill will eventually pass and we need to be ready for the aftermath — and heâ€™s got an interesting theory. Stanley, you tell her.
STANLEY: Well, in a year or two, weâ€™ll have some health care reform, and guess what? A lot of people will still be sick. And a lot of people will still be dying.
JANE: Thatâ€™s obvious.
STANLEY: Weâ€™ve gotta be ready to take advantage of that. We wonâ€™t want to repeal it, even though weâ€™ll talk about doing just that. But primarily we need to be prepared to use it.
getting more excited
STANLEY: We need to pounce — pound home the idea that itâ€™s a failure. That it doesnâ€™t work.
JANE: Hit me.
STANLEY: Doctor Death..
JANE: We tried that.
STANLEY: No — we tried Death Panel.
JANE: Seems a little recycled.
STANLEY: Dr. Death is fresh. Itâ€™s alive. And itâ€™s not thinnairist. Itâ€™s actually true.
STANLEY: Every President is a Dr. Death. Itâ€™s part of the job.
SMITH: Could it be cliche?
STANLEY: Not if itâ€™s presented right, by the right people.
They all ponder this.
SMITH: Mrs. Ghondlesonni?
JANE: I suppose it could work.
STANLEY: My wife loves it, and sheâ€™s my harshest critic. Dr. Death.
SMITH: When do you propose we launch this?
JANE: The longer you wait, the better it will work.
STANLEY: I go along with that.
SMITH: Excellent. Letâ€™s look at this energy label.
JANE: Excuse me sir, but havenâ€™t we already discussed publishing a book called â€œHitchhiker Nation,â€ describing a world where only government employees are allowed to travel — the world Obama wants us all to live in.
SMITH: Stanleyâ€™s got another idea and I just want you to hear it.
STANLEY: â€œComobile,â€ designed to evoke an image of prolonged suffering. The small cars Obama wants people driving will cause more fatalities and more people living in comas. Variation on â€œdeath trap,â€ but repackaged as Comobile!
JANE: Sir, donâ€™t you think that sucks?
SMITH: That occurred to me, but I wanted some input.
STANLEY: It at least deserves an experiment.
JANE: Itâ€™s not worth spending on the focus group. Thatâ€™s terrible.
SMITH: Letâ€™s move on to taxes. When they want to raise taxes two percent on the upper one percent, we need to be ready. Theyâ€™ll be talking about our own people then, you know. Theyâ€™ll be talking about us.
JANE: Now I say we stick with fundamentals. un-American. Socialist. Nazi. Marxist.
SMITH: Stanley thinks we might need something new.
STANLEY: Commander in Thief.
They ponder this.
JANE: Itâ€™s clumsy.
SMITH: A little.
JANE: But…Iâ€™ve got to admit. Commander in Thief. Itâ€™s not bad.
SMITH: Letâ€™s try that one out, Stanley.
STANLEY: Will do, sir.
SMITH: Now we get to the re-election, where Stanley has a pretty bold suggestion.
STANLEY: Itâ€™s not a thinnairst idea.
JANE: Just say it.
STANLEY: You werenâ€™t a big fan of flip flopper at first.
JANE: Just say it.
STANLEY: I say we go for the heart of the matter and let the chips fall where they may.
SMITH stands up at his desk.
SMITH: Maybe I should leave the room for a minute. Would that be useful?
STANLEY: Might not be a bad idea, sir.
JANE: Say what?
STANLEY: We just call him a nigger. I mean, keep in mind, the country will be experiencing a tremendous amount of African-American fatigue by then. It could backfire. But the odds are against us anyway unless we cause a fundamental shift in this countryâ€™s thinking about race and ethnicity. It could get us back Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia. Ohio. Florida!
JANE: (wistful)Â Florida.
STANLEY: (filled with emotion)Â Florida, Jane.
He stands up and paces.
STANLEY: Blanket all media with vigorous denials by the campaign. Start early and let it build.
JANE: It will build.
Sheâ€™s mesmerized. He takes her hand. She stands up and they gaze into each otherâ€™s eyes.
JANE: The White House is forced to respond. We know race is our only issue. I say we stop playing in the sandbox with it. I mean, we hit the N word so long, so loud, and so hard that it becomes the only subject. The American people become totally desensitized. Make nigger a household word.
JANE: Like Nazi.
STANLEY: (tender) I did tell you how brilliant I thought that was?
JANE: No, I donâ€™t think you did.
STANLEY: It was.
Mutual attraction getting stronger. Magnetized and moving closer.
STANLEY: Youâ€™re a genius, Jane.
JANE: (seductive) Socialist.
STANLEY: My favorite of them all.
JANE: Iâ€™m married.
STANLEY: So am I.
Overcome with passion, they embrace and kiss.