Continued from Chapter 26 (which was continued from Chapter 25):

The girls have gathered around Mabel and the laptop computer. They are searching E-way for someone who can lead their party to victory in 2012.

"Click on that one."

"Hallelujah! This one sounds perfect. The answer to our prayers."

"We'd better jump right on it."

And so it was that Rantbabies found their leader and went on to form the Cindersara Political Action Committee. Along the way they exchanged tips on hairdressers and shoe stores. Everyone might have lived happily ever after, were it not for....

"Jeff! Wake up!"

"Huh? Whudithit? Fire?"

"I just had the most awful dream...a horrible nightmare."

"Is that all? Forget it and go back to sleep."

"I can't. It's vivid in my mind."

"Oh, all right. {sigh} What about?" Jeff is the kindest of plastic men and will tolerate even interrupted sleep to bring comfort to his wife, no matter how neurotic her concerns.

"I dreamed that I was back in school, and the teacher was lecturing...

As usual I was thinking about the weekend parties, doodling in my notebook, when she said something that struck a cord."

"The chances of a mother aged 44 having a child with a chromosomal abnormality is 1 in 24. At present, it will cost approximately $825,000.00 to educate such a child in the Laska public school system over thirteen years. The additional costs of providing for that child throughout his or her lifetime may be in the millions."

"That doesn't seem like anything to get worried about. It happens."

But you don't understand! The girls and I were just raking that poor woman who had eight babies over the coals. And the chances that her six implanted embryos would result in octuplets was way way less than 1 in 24! But the woman we chose to lead us into the promised land was willing to take the 1-in-24 roll of the dice. So how can we attack the one and make a role model of the other? "

"It sounds like you just learned something about life. That's all."

"That's all ????!!!!! My entire life, my existence, is based upon the idea that the world is divided into Us and Them. Us are good, the Chosen People. Right? Right??? Them are the Unchosen, the bad. I've even studied the Us-ness Rule Book. I can quote Rule #1 by heart: 'If any of Us do what we condemn in any of Them we overlook it, and if that's not possible, we circle the wagons and perform the forgiveness rite, absolving our own of any lingering taint of Themness.' "

"But now...now...a tiny doubt has penetrated the armor of my Self-Righteousness. Is it possible the Moral Majority isn't all that moral? Is it possible that the Us are not the chosen people?"

Poor Mabel! She feels, most certainly, like the little Dutch Boy with his finger guarding the hole in the dike. Such a tiny hole and yet tons of impatient water seeking to rush through it, all at once, sweeping her and the dike away together. Those people-- in all the worlds, big and small--who have ever been in her position can surely sympathize with her moral agony.

But Jeff has already thought through these issues and is prepared to provide some guidance.

"Everybody is chosen, Mabel. "

"How can that be?"

"Everyone has some purpose."

"Even the Rockies? The very worst of the Thems? They tried to hurt you."

"We invaded their country."

"But only to bring Them democracy. They should be grateful to us."

"And some of them are. But nobody likes somebody else coming into their house, no matter how dysfunctional it is, and telling them how to live."

"So what purpose do the Rockies have?"

"In the big scheme of things? Not for me to say. But I do know they've served to highlight many of our internal policy weaknesses--and forced us to think (once again) about our nation's position in the world: are we a role model for democracy and morality, or simply another heavy who spreads his opinions and influence with a closed fist?

"As for me personally, the Rockies and the War have reminded me of what is most important: my home, my family, my country--my life. I appreciate these things as I never did before."

"That's so sweet."

"Go to sleep now. We'll talk more in the morning."

But of course Mabel cannot sleep, for when your world shakes, it takes a long time for the rocking to stop. New questions run relentlessly through her mind:"What if...what if manipulation isn't a virtue?"

"What if...what if...admitting you made a mistake and saying you're sorry isn't a sign of weakness -- but of greatness?"

"What if the oval office isn't sacred, and the president isn't a god? What if he's just made of plastic, like everyone else? What if we don't exist to serve him, but he is there to serve us?

"What would the world possibly be like then?"

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