All the Maestro's Men

Nine o'clock on a Saturday morning. Early for the phone. Woodwind snapped awake. It was the city desk. There had been some kind of burglary at Democratic Party headquarters. There was speculation in the newsroom that the White House, even the President himself, might be implicated. Perhaps some kind of botched spy job by an extra-legal intelligence operation in the White House basement. The desk wanted Woodwind, the paper's investigative ace, to check some of his police sources.

Ridiculous, Woodwind thought, hanging up the phone. He knew the President well. Only that week, he had been at an intimate dinner with the President, the Chairman of the Fed, the CEO of Citicorp, the Treasury Secretary, and two influential senators from the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. The President had more important things on his mind, Woodwind knew. Key changes in America's China policy, for starters.

Besides, grubby police work was what aspiring investigative reporters did very early in their careers. It was mostly thankless, like hanging around parking garages and eating too much cheap carryout. Only once in a great while did it lead to any useful tips. You never got to know real notables or publish best-sellers. It was more efficient to source a story right from the top.

At the dinner, Woodwind had been seated between the President and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The cuisine was elegant Szechuan and China was on everyone's mind. The man from the Fed had been thinking how a closer connection to China could strengthen currency stability in Asia. But the President's thoughts were on foreign policy. What a terrific strategic opportunity, the President said to himself. This was the kind of inside investigative reporting, from the very tree of power, that bore early and pungent fruit. It was almost like reading people's minds.

Woodwind knew that whatever had happened at Democratic Party headquarters, the President's fingerprints couldn't have been on it. The man had only the highest concerns for his country. It must have been some rogue operation by an eager-to-please underling. But Woodwind, just to be certain, would ask the President directly. The man wouldn't lie, not to investigative ace Bob Woodwind. He reached for the phone.