Fenno ran as quickly as he could down Mass Ave., realizing that he was late for his interview. As he passed Three Aces Pizza, he noticed the shiniest Jaguar he had ever seen. Fenno paused long enough to take a look at the car. A bumper sticker read, “Got Sears, Kiss my Ass.”
Fenno didn’t know what this meant or who would come up with such a thing, but he kept running, hoping not to get bumped from this meeting for his tardiness. He had been contacted by a firm that refused to name itself, and told to come to a conference room in Hauser.
Fenno dashed into the room at sat down. Across the table, three solemn faces stared at him. Fenno was confused. It was Professors Gerken, Ogletree and Tribe.
“Do you know why we’ve requested your presence, Fenno?” asked Gerken. She always seemed so pleasant. Fenno shook his head to signal that he was clueless.
“Fenno, have you ever heard of the American Constitutional Society?” she asked.
“You mean the Madison Society?” Fenno asked. Gerken’s face turned red. Ogletree looked down. Tribe began to whistle and stare at the ceiling.
“Fenno! ACS shed the slave-holder moniker ages ago!” Gerken yelled. Fenno had never seen this vitriolic side of Gerken. He felt afraid. Doing some quick math Fenno rationalized that ages ago must have meant last week, since the organization was still in the pre-“take-it-home-from-the-hospital” stage of its infancy.
Ogletree raised his hand to seize control of the deteriorating situation, as he had so many times at countless conferences and meetings.
“Fenno,” Ogletree started, “the reason you are here is that ACS needs an operative to infiltrate TFS.” Ogletree’s voice seemed laced with an unbelievable amount of reason.
“Why me?” Fenno asked. The three professors looked at each other and Gerken spoke again.
“We’ve been trying to get someone inside of The Federalist Society for some time now. As you can imagine, we’ve encountered quite a bit of difficulty finding suitable operatives because of … well, because of glaring cultural and ideological differences between the type of people we have access to and the type that we would need if we were going to insert a mole into a cell of The Federalist Society,” Gerken said.
“Based on your, how shall I say it, amorphous politics, Fenno, we think that you are exactly the type of person that they would accept as one of their own. Then you could feed us information, and we could preemptively put a stop to the judicial appointments they were planning, and other crimes against humanity!” said Tribe.
Fenno tried to focus. Clearly, this interview had spun out of his control. What would Kimm Alayne Walton do?, thought Fenno. He decided to ask pointless questions.
“What is the objective of ACS?” asked Fenno.
“To counter the Federalist Society,” said the three professors in oompa-loompa-like unison.
“But, shouldn’t every organization have a public mission more clearly defined than simply being the antagonist of another group? I mean, it seems to me tha-“
“Fenno, this is waaar!” said Gerken.
“Yes, waaar! These are deathly serious times, and this is a deathly serious matter, and we don’t have time for your ridiculous pussyfooting about defining objectives and other ridiculousness. There’s an old poster out West that said ‘wanted, dead or alive.’ Well, we want the Federalist Society, dead or alive!” yelled Gerken.
Ogletree put up another hand of reason, and turned to his colleagues. He spoke in the sort of whisper that guarantees all around can hear what is being said.
“Let’s not get too excited. Clearly, we have the wrong guy. I mean, if he doesn’t even understand the concept of tit-for-tat, there is no way that he’ll be able to make the Federalists think that he is one of them.”
Fenno got up and walked out of the room before they turned their attention back to him. A little bit of confusion had caused him to fail his first interview of the year. He staggered out of Hauser into the already-chilly September air. He could see the ominous silhouettes of Mike Gottlieb and Joi Cheney standing not far away. The men in black of the ACS. He had to get out of here, and fast. Fenno started running toward Harvard Yard.
As he passed Weld Hall he spied a television in one of the dorm rooms. Fenno stopped and watched through the window, feeling like Scrooge, looking on with the ghost of Crisis Past. On the TV, the “Star Spangled Banner” was being played by the British guards in front of Buckingham Palace. A worthy tribute, Fenno thought, but to what? The song was about vanquishing British Soldiers who looked like the people playing the song. Fenno supposed that didn’t matter. Reason didn’t matter at times of war. Logic didn’t matter.