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January 20, 1937
"I, Alfred Mossman Landon, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God."
And with that, Alf Landon was President, Joe Parker was unemployed, and Jack Garner looked a lot older. He was sixty-nine, but in the weeks since his defeat, he looked seventy-nine.
His increasingly frail-looking form, walking with a cane, tersely shook Landon's hand. "May God help you, Mr. President," said Garner. May God help all of us, he thought, to himself.
Landon warmly smiled as he shook hands with Garner for the crowd and newsreel cameras. Then, he reached out and grabbed the new Vice President, Frank Knox, and the two of them held their linked hands aloft in a victory pose as the cameras flashed. After it all died down, and everybody took their seats again, Landon began his inaugural address.
The words were all familiar. Lower taxes, a newer kind of New Deal, reaching out to impoverished Americans. The whole time Landon was speaking, Joe Parker watched from the crowd.
Whose ideas are these? Joe wondered. The man had never had an original idea in his life. He hadn't even campaigned much - he'd let Knox and other Republicans campaign for him. His Cabinet was already taking shape - even before he'd been sworn in Landon had released the names of some of the appointments, most notably Hiram Johnson as Secretary of State. He'd get the job, too - there wouldn't be the problem Garner had had with Hugo Black, since now there was a Vice President and both the Senate pro-tem and the Speaker back in the succession line. And Democrats loved Johnson, since he'd supported FDR in 1932.
Landon finished speaking and the crowd applauded. He wasn't a particularly inspiring speaker, not like FDR or even Jack Garner on a good day, but he was President now and there was a prevailing wind that people could smell.
As the band struck up Hail to the Chief, Joe Parker stubbed out his cigarette, put his hat back on and slipped out of the crowd and into the cold Washington afternoon.
March 3, 1937
Vice-President Knox stepped in to the president's room. Alf Landon turned around.
"What is it, Mr Vice President?"
"Our approval ratings are 43%, and our agenda is still being flattened by congress"
Landon grimaced. The administration had got off to a good start, with all cabinet members confirmed and taxes cut, but the "New New Deal" was completely shot down, turning their approval ratings to dust.
"Get me every single Republican in congress" he demanded, snarling.
"You sure?" asked Knox.
Landon reconsidered. Even with a majority of Republicans behind him, congress would probably stop his agenda in its tracks.
"No" said the president "Get me all of congress for a speech."