Trump Card?

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Political | No Comments

Eight years ago, a broken-hearted Andrew Card Jr. sat with James Baker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, handing the keys over to Warren Christopher, Mark Gearan, and, later, John Podesta. “He just was flattened,” recalls Gearan. “He was a loyal Bush guy.” Today, as George W. Bush’s first appointee, Card finds himself talking with Podesta about taking the keys back — at least in some imaginary world where elections end.

The Life of a Prison Chaplain

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Cultural | No Comments

Six years ago, Chaplain Jim Brazzil reported for his first day of his new job at the Huntsville prison in Texas. Called to the Lord at age 9 in his hometown of Temple, Texas, he’s been ministering since he was 17 and has served as a Baptist pastor since 20. He has worked in a tuberculosis ward in a Ukrainian maximum-security prison and has seen all manner of physical horrors as a paramedic. But that day, at age 45, his assignment daunted him for the first time. “By the way,” the administrators told him in passing, “there is an execution tonight, and we need you to handle it.”

“I can’t even explain the experience,” Brazzil says now, in his soft drawl. “It was extremely traumatic. It was extremely religious. It opened my eyes and my life to things I had never even dreamed of, as far as being alive. Back then, they were still executing at midnight, so it was a long, hard day.”

On the campaign trail, George W. Bush has had to explain why Texas puts more people to death than any other state, with over 130 executed during his tenure as governor. But Brazzil faces more pressing questions from the 131 men and women he has counseled in the last two weeks of their lives, through the last full day of their lives, to the moment that he puts his hand on their leg and watches their last breath.

The Election: Quack the Dog

Posted by on Nov 1, 2000 in Political | No Comments

The evening after the longest Election Night in American history, most of Al Gore’s top consultants, bedraggled and functioning on less sleep than surgical interns, entered the freight elevator of the Loew’s Hotel in Nashville, ground zero for the Gore campaign, to descend to their fleet of cars. They would soon be whisked to Senator Lieberman’s plane and then back to Washington, where they could at least worry about the future of the presidency amid the comforts of home. Just then, Bob Shrum, one of Gore’s key strategists, got a call on his cell phone. It was Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, calling from the White House. Shrum listened for a moment before all the tension he’d held in a lockbox for some 36 hours of CNN and second-guessing finally exploded. “Goddamn it, we do have talking points!” Shrum shrieked, according to a witness. “We’ve put out talking points! You don’t know what you’re talking about, Sidney.”

The message coming from the White House was clear: You guys don’t have your act together.

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