Greetings, Wonketteers! Your Comics Curmudgeon has been given permission by Wonkette’s lovely editrix to promote a pet project here: Hail to the Slash, a crowdsourced repository of slash fiction about presidents and presidential candidates, having sex, with each other and other historical figures! Wonkette is made up of EXACTLY the sort of pervert politics nerds who would find this interesting, so I have high hopes that you will all read the site and follow it on Twitter and submit your own slashfic and tell your pervert friends about it. The stories on the site are submitted by readers like you, but to prove that I’m as game as anyone, I present to you an romantic story featuring Ron Paul and time travel, after the jump.
“Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests, and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: ‘You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.’”
William Jennings Bryan would have told you that it was the roar of the crowd of Democratic delegates that echoed in his ears as he made his way back to his Chicago hotel in the wee hours of the morning, but in truth it was his own words. They were good, and he knew it. He had used parts of it in his speeches for years, polishing them in the Congress and back home in Nebraska, and he knew that the version he’d unleash in Chicago would be his most persuasive oration yet. That moment of silence in the hall after he finished had been terrifying — had it had been hubristic to extend his arms at the end, miming the crucifixion of our Lord? — but the roar that followed had been gratifying, and the delegates’ ecstatic, spontaneous decision to carry him about the convention floor on their shoulders more so.
It was, he thought to himself, almost enough to make a man fall in to the sin of Pride. But Bryan knew that it would not be for himself, but for the farmer and the worker that he would secure the Presidency. And yes, hew knew he would secure it. Before arriving in Chicago, he thought he might need to wait four or even eight more years before he would be allowed the nomination. After tonight, he knew that it was his for the taking, and, with the Republicans having nominated the pro-gold McKinley, he felt that the nation would follow the convention.
“Nicely delivered speech, Congressman” said a voice from the darkness. Bryan recognized the twang. Texas was a safe Democratic state, but it never hurt to do a little campaigning, so he stopped to speak to the gentleman who emerged into the light of the streetlamp. He was an older man, thin and reedy, with eyes that seemed to hold a certain sadness. Bryan started to smile, until the man continued. “Too mad you’ve got it all wrong on gold. If you had your way, the U.S. dollar’d be worth less than Confederate scrip.”
Bryan was taken aback, but the man disarmed him with a surprising smile and stuck out his hand. “Name’s Paul,” he said. Bryan reached out to take it and when skin met skin the sensation was electric.
Still, the younger man was cautious. “We’ve just met,” he said, “and using your Christian name seems a little … familiar.”
Again that smile. “Paul’s my family name.”
“Well, Mr. Paul, I see you’re another alarmist on bimetallism. A ratio of 16 ounces of silver to an ounce of gold…”
“…is an unconstitutional injection of government meddling in the money supply. The real ratio is set by the free market.”
A Darwinist, Bryan thought. He wants to make men into beasts, cast us into a monstrous competition in which only the fit survive. But he couldn’t help but notice how fit Mr. Paul’s body looked, beneath those oddly tailored clothes.
The two men kept talking — arguing, really, though there was no malice in it — as they made their way back toward Bryan’s hotel. The lobby was still buzzing with the raucous talk of convention delegates, but Bryan suggested that they find a seat there to continue their conversation. “Too much tobacco smoke down here,” Mr. Paul said. “Unhealthy. Maybe your room would be quieter?”
Bryan thought the complaint eccentric, but did not object.
The two ended up sitting side by side on the bed in Bryan’s room, as it was rather spartan, with no other real furniture. They talked for hours, and while Bryan felt that he had answers for most of Mr. Paul’s points, the man’s strange charisma and intensity rubbed away at his self-assurance, and his wariness. Honestly, later he couldn’t even really remember everything they sad to one another. There was one moment that he never forgot, though: Mr. Paul mentioned something about the “Austrian School” and Bryan retorted, good naturedly, “Oh, are we taking lessons on economy from Hapsburg princes now?” Mr. Paul threw up his hands and laughed, a lovely, genuine laugh, and when he set his right hand down it was atop Bryan’s left.
A quote from another man named Paul suddenly appeared, burning and unbidden and not for the first time, in Bryan’s mind. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
No, the sin of Pride had never been Bryan’s worst transgression. Shortly thereafter came another moment he never forgot: Mr. Paul, fumbling with Bryan’s undergarments, said “I always forget how many clothes you wore back in these days.” So strange, as if Mr. Paul weren’t a native of “these days” himself, but just a visitor from somewhere else. But in the moment he didn’t dwell on it. There were other, better things on which to dwell: mouths, and hands, and skin covered with delightful hair.
The next morning, Mr. Paul was gone, never to be seen again, as was to be expected. That’s how it always went with the men he met on the street and took back to his hotel rooms. But over the next months, as he campaigned across the country, he found he couldn’t get the man out of his mind. It was the sin that he fixated on — he had long learned how to keep that out of his consciousness when he needed to — but the words. Every time he gave a speech on Free Silver, he heard Mr. Paul say “fiat money” in the back of his mind. Every time he promised to help the working man, he heard Mr. Paul saying “What we need to do is remove the impediments to liberty that stop the working man from building a factory of his own.”
His speeches never were as convincing, as enthralling, as the one in that Chicago convention hall, because he was never as sure of himself again. In November, when Governor McKinley set off for Washington, bringing his promises of a firm gold standard with him, Bryan began to suspect that this had been Mr. Paul’s goal all along.