The meeting of key members of the Council of Ministers had been rescheduled for the morning after the US election. Though the outcome of the election was not in doubt, President Atesh Jahedi, prone to superstition, did not want to present his strategy until the results were official.
Despite Jahedi’s public image as a raving lunatic, he was an intelligent, well-read, and pragmatic leader. He had mastered many of the nuances of the US political system, even the Constitution’s Seventeenth Amendment allowing the peasants, not the state-level politicians, to elect their senators. Too much power in the hands of the provincial leaders presents problems for a strong central leader. Jahedi viewed the individual states in America as mostly trivial bureaucracies that issued driver’s permits and begged the central government for handouts.
Jahedi also favored the abstract concept of the Electoral College. He understood it better than most Americans and thought it a novel concept: It was best the peasants not have the ability to directly elect a leader. He knew corrupt politicians armed with enough money can and will manipulate the masses. He had done it himself.
When CNN International—with its endless graphs, charts, and visual effects—had finally declared the Electoral College winner, Jahedi had felt confident he was now dealing with reality, not erratic polling results and the senseless speculation of has-been/want-to-be politicians and media commentators.
The Council of Ministers was a select group of Iranian ministers who were, in fact, the ex-officio rulers of Iran. Jahedi had skillfully manipulated the world’s impression that the decrepit and ancient mullahs ran Iran. But in reality, Jahedi had assumed complete power in the country. The “old ones,” as he referred to the mullahs, had quietly removed themselves from true power once they became convinced of Jahedi’s intellect, ruthlessness, and commitment to jihad. The mullahs were figureheads who participated periodically in fabricated theatrics, appearing to reprimand Jahedi for a transgression here or there. But it was all a ruse on their part, a trick believed by the intelligence agencies in the West.
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