Our President's name is Jonathan Whitmore, the New York Senator is Sam Drysdale. Act I opens immediately following an emergency national broadcast in which President Whitmore has addressed the people of America. The nature of the address is not immediately clear, but from the looks of the frenetic press conference being held at the White House it is certain that the situation is grave. Standing behind a bullet-proof glass and surrounded by numerous secret servicemen, the tragedy is subtly revealed: Vice President Charles Dixon has been assassinated and the President is declaring the event as an attack on America and its government by an extremist group from Iran. He assures the American people that while his prayers and deepest sympathies lie with the family of his departed vice president, that even in this most trying moment of American tragedy he cannot miss a beat. He must show resolve and retain his focus on the struggle with Iran that had been escalating in the weeks leading up to the assassination. The president ends his delivery to the press by declaring the end of peace talks with the Iranian government, and accuses Iran of intentionally drawing resources away from their internal counter-terrorist intelligence agencies so the group could train, fund, and protect themselves within Iran's borders. The president fields questions. Many of which he avoids and declines having any knowledge on. However one member of the press asks him of his thoughts on the increasingly out-spoken criticism coming from Senator Sam Drysdale of New York through the media. This is the only question that seems to get a rise out of the president. He assures the reporter that Drysdale is a "treasonist in the making" and that officials are working to "clean house" of both Drysdale and those in congress and the military that have spoken up in support of his "radical" ideas. The President accuses Drysdale of trying to divide this country in a time period when it is of the utmost importance that America show that it is at its most unified and ready to put an end to extremist groups that have been terrorizing our nation since (what President Whitmore refers to as) "the day myself and all Americans remember." The President steps down from the podium to a sea of unsatisfied members of the press, looking for more commentary on the late Vice President, and strangely, on Drysdale.
The president returns to the oval office, met by his cabinet. A television is awaiting him and without saying a word his chief of staff turns on the television. All remain standing. The television illuminates with the image of Drysdale (who is spending the week in New York) who has gathered a press conference of his own. He is calm and reserved, but his eyes show a fire and grief over the vice president's death that were not present in President Whitmore's. Drysdale immediately dismisses the idea that the president was aware of the assassination beforehand, and again defends the president against an accusatory question that the vice president being murdered by an Iranian terrorist group bolsters his case for war. But he admits that through a combination of his office's intelligence connections with New York City, his loyalists in the military, the constituents in Albany, and the intelligence uncovered by his self-established and privately funded intelligence agency (Faction for a Safer World, or FSW) he had obtained proof that the group responsible for this tragedy was not in fact from Iran, but from Iraq. It was in fact a reincarnate of a terrorist group the US Government had tried to eradicate in Iraq six months prior, when they demanded (with violence) that the United States pull out of Iraq and allow the Muslim world to heal from the wounds inflicted on it by the US invasion. Leading officials from this group escaped the army's advance on their camp based outside of Tikrit and snuck into Iran where in a short six months staged the assassination, which had been planned for two years in Iraq before they made themselves public. These leaders however, were not forced into Iran. It was their plan from the beginning to stage a terrorist campaign from Iran because it would surely be the powder keg that brought the US to war in Iran, something that fit into a greater goal of these terrorists, which remains unknown. Drysdale continues by adding that this intelligence was passed to the White House two months ago, but because of the President's frustrating and futile campaign in Iran, alongside his growing distrust of Drysdale and especially the FSW, it was overlooked. However, Drysdale then amplifies the situation by admitting that he had predicted this oversight by the White House. Almost apologetically, he admits to the public that after the intelligence was passed to Washington he did not stand idle but instead he secretly began work on what he called "Plan B". His plan was to be enacted if and only if exactly this kind of a tragedy was carried out. Using his connections with top officials in the military, he had gone behind the president's back to put into place an unprecendented three week exit from Iraq. His two-pronged approach would bring 90% of the troops home while the rest would enter Iran in search of this fundamentalist group and eliminate them. A symbolic similarity arises in Drysdale's press conference when members of the press ask Drysdale about Whitmore's claims that Drysdale is a treasonist. He responds by assuring the press that he, unlike the president, has been among the real people of America and Iraq and has spent his time shaking hands with the commanders and troops in Iraq, and that if the press and the public want to know the truth about Sam Drysdale, to ask those people.
Humiliated and angered by Drysdale's television appearance, Whitmore orders his advisors to call the order to descend on New York and arrest Drysdale for treason, a conspiracy to act against the Presidential authority and endangering the American people by disobeying a mandated senatorial gag-order on speaking publicly with information regarding specifics on policy in Iraq and Iran. His advisors inform him however that it is too late. Moments into Drysdale's appearance, the White House received faxes from the head of the National Guard, the FBI, the CIA, and chief congressmen that two days prior, congress passed a secret vote to move for an unpublicized impeachment of President Whitmore. The impeachment proceedings came because of the growing fear in the American public and in Congress that Whitmore had lost his handle on the Iran talks, and had been alienating himself from both the public and his constituents by his extremist stances on a plethora of other issues that had arisen in the second term of his Presidency. The impeachment vote was originally to be public and brought to the attention of the President, but Drysdale begged congress that a highly publicized impeachment vote would impede on any last vestige of progress in the President's talks with Iran. He instead proposed a secret congressional hearing of top officials and a subsequent "secret vote" in congress, and if either the peace talks failed, or, the terrorists managed to get to us as the FSW's intelligence had suggested two months prior, that then and only then would they present the results of that vote to the President, and enact his Plan B, which he meticulously outlined to them. Impressed by Drysdale's "Plan B", even Whitmore's most dedicated followers agreed and the vote for impeachment was tallied in favor. The assassination of the vice president was the last straw, and congress decided to let Whitmore in on their decision.
Whitmore was finished. An entire government he thought he had led had conspired against him in one of the most unprecedented coups of the modern world. Saving him the ultimate public embarassment, Drysdale had let Whitmore deliver his presidential address and press conference, and then had him brought to a closed-door congressional hearing with the top White House officials. Whitmore waits in anger and frustration as Drysdale's armored convoy arrives from New York. At this meeting, Drysdale does his best to be diplomatic with Whitmore. Assuring him that in his opinion he did the best job a man of his principles could, and that he had led the American people as far as his abilities could take them. Whitmore is furious, feeling as if he (and probably was) the last to know about his own political demise. He does not dignify Drysdale's diplomacy with any answers. He merely sits and stews in his anger and confusion. Drysdale suggests that there is not much time for debate, as the tragedy that had just befallen America along with Whitmore's virtual decree that he will be invading Iran were sure to be sending the American people into a frenzy. What Drysdale says next shocks Whitmore. He tells Whitmore that while he feels that the President ultimately failed America, that he himself would as well. He reminds Whitmore that the country was founded on the government's ability to check and balance itself and that he was so self-aware of his own potential to be corrupted by power that he needs Whitmore to be his check and balance. He suggests that in the wake of the upcoming political troubles that are bound to fall on America that for the first time in our almost 300 year history, congress should have two men serving as president. Whitmore speaks for the first time, calling the idea ridiculous. "That's why I had Charles. That is why Bush had Cheney, and Clinton had Gore." he says. But Drysdale maintains that it is not the same. He asks Whitmore to imagine two men qualified to be president but with the ability to check one another at the presidential level. Drysdale reveals that he considers him to be a political equal to himself, but with a drastically different point of view, and that it is out of this respect that would make this system work. They would learn to understand each other's policies in the same way a President hopes to understand the policy of a leader of a foreign nation. He also warns Whitmore that he too must learn to show this respect back to him, or it would not work. Drysdale then tells him that he is offering him a second chance as President (co-President rather) and that it was the opinion of both American public and the other leaders of America that he should not even be given this chance. He assures Whitmore that he does this out of a respect that he had garnered for him during his first four years in office, before he believed him to have become a victim of politics that needed the guidance of someone like himself. Whitmore rebukes by saying that Drysdale merely needs his help to win the public on this new unorthodox political approach. That Drysdale needed Whitmore's established political career to convince the American public that it is in their best interest to put two Presidents into the office, one of which had not even been voted in by them (a protocol that this country was founded on). Drysdale reluctantly admits some truth to his argument, but reminds Whitmore that the people wanted change anyway, and that they would be glad to elect Drysdale to office legitimately in two years when Whitmore's term is up. Polls showed that Drysdale had garnered an extraordinary appreciation and respect of the entire country with his founding of the FSW and the unrelenting protection of his home state of New York. "There would be many people who would love for me to employ the same dedication to the nation as a whole as I have to New York. Something they don't want or need two years from now, but now... right now" he says. Drysdale stands by his argument that he needs Whitmore's help to lead this nation through this tragedy and that together they could achieve what every good politician hopes to achieve, which is to serve the best interests of the people. Whitmore, still unconvinced, asks about his fate should he decline. Drysdale reminds him of the vote for impeachment, a process which would meaninglessly be redone publicly as a formality when the time was right. He continues that Whitmore would suffer the embarrassment of being publicly ousted from office and forever be viewed in the public's eyes as the President that let the Vice President die on his watch. Whitmore angrily rebukes Drysdale's suggestion, defending both himself and his friendship with the late Charles Dixon. Drysdale can only shake his head and remind Whitmore that the absolute truth and the truth that is found in the court of public opinion are sometimes not the same thing. Whitmore knows he is right. Realizing that he has no other choice he finally agrees. They begin to work on on dealing with the newly created issue that Whitmore had all but declared war on Iran.