It was seven in the morning, and I was changing the baby’s diaper. Richie, thank goodness, is a good baby and seems to understand the necessity for diaper changes, although he doesn’t like it when I apply the cold butt paste, which is actually what it’s called, don’t blame me. The knock came at the door just as I was closing up the diaper. I picked Richie up and headed to the door.
I didn’t know the man at the door, but he looked as though he had less sleep than I had, which was quite the accomplishment. "May I come in?" he asked. "And if you have coffee, that would be most welcome."
"And you are?" I asked.
"Trevor Charleston," he said. "Fairchild International, Near East desk. Can I please come in and sit down? It has been a long night."
"Of course," I said. I understood immediately why he looked as though he hadn’t slept, because he hadn’t. The military in Turkey had tried a coup the night before. I’d watched the updates during the 3 AM feeding, but that was as much as I knew. I put Richie in his playpen and fixed another pot of Kirkland Select. I brought Trevor a cup, and he gulped it gratefully.
"So, rough night for the Turks," I said.
"You might say that. You might also say that this represents a huge opportunity for the United States to support the Erdogan government at a crucial juncture."
"Why would I say that?" I asked.
"Because you did," he said. And he handed me a fresh copy of that morning’s Wall Street Journal. "Editorial page. Read it. Carefully, if you don’t mind."
The headline read, "Navigating a Crucial Juncture in the US-Turkey Alliance." And it had been authored by Justin Trudeau-Fairchild.
"Hey!" I said. "I didn’t know there was anyone else named Justin Trudeau-Fairchild in the world, much less one that writes for the Wall Street Journal. What are the odds?"
"I don’t have time for sarcasm, Mr. Fairchild," Charleston said.
"I wasn’t… Wait, I wrote this?"
"You did indeed. And you did a very good job, if I say so myself."
"Wait, no I didn’t. I mean, I would have had to have written this last night, and I know I didn’t. Unless I am doing some strange sort of sleepwalking where I write editorials for The Wall Street Journal in my sleep." I couldn’t discount that, although why I would write for The Wall Street Journal as opposed to, say, The Guardian, was a mystery to me.
Charleston poured himself a cup of coffee. "If I may endeavor to explain."
"Please do."
"Fairchild International has a sizable position in Turkish government bonds, and therefore, a substantial interest in supporting the Turkish government. I’m the Turkey field expert for Fairchild. I was born in Turkey; my dad was stationed there in the Air Force, and later he was a commercial attache there in the Carter Administration. I speak fluent Turkish, and I drink their coffee, which is a hundred times better than this, no offense."
"None taken."
"Okay, so I wrote up this report for your dad last night, and he sent an excerpt of it to his contacts at the Journal, and they wanted to run it. But nobody’s ever heard of me, and they couldn’t run it under your dad’s name because of the conflict of interest. So they ran it under your name."
"They did what?" I said, although I was secretly quite relieved that I wasn’t sleepwalking, or sleep-writing.
"And since you don’t know bupkis about Turkey–sorry, no offense–your dad packed me on a Gulfstream to brief you about Turkey, unless some reporter thought to call you."
"I do too know bupkis about Turkey," I said. "Um. Capital is Ankara. NATO ally. Don’t like the Kurds. Istanbul, not Constantinople."
"What’s the third-largest city?"Charleston asked.
"Chicago." I said
"In. Turkey."
"Um. Damascus?"
"That’s in Syria."
"Oh. Right."
"You see my problem, here."
"So, wait. Everyone in the world thinks I’m a Turkey expert now?"
"Have you looked at social media lately, son? Every damn soul on there is a Turkey expert. They were Tunisia experts yesterday. All you have to do is fake it for one day, and everybody will forget about it by tomorrow."
"That’s very cynical." I said.
"Yep."
*
So I spent the day learning about Turkey, fielding phone calls from reporters. And changing diapers. The last part was the most pleasant. The only good thing was that the reporters seemed every bit as clueless as I was, so I didn’t manage to embarrass myself for once.
"Anytime I had problems, Charleston was there to steer me in the right direction," I told Emma. "So three cheers for him and Fairchild International."
"Well, I suppose it’s good practice for being in Congress," she said.
"Do what?"
"People in Congress aren’t subject-matter experts, you know. They rely on their staff for that."
"I know a lot," I said. "About important stuff like social justice."
"This week, Turkey is important stuff, about which you know bupkis."
"So, okay, maybe I don’t know much about Turkey, but I learned. And I improvised. That’s not so terrible, is it?"
"Justin, think about it. You knew nothing about Turkey. And your staff knew nothing about Turkey. So what did you do? You relied one-hundred-percent on an outside lobbyist for a hedge fund."
I opened my mouth. Then I closed it. Then I opened my mouth again, and closed it again, and that felt like the smartest thing I had done in weeks. Emma was right. I had outsourced my judgment on an important public policy issue to Fairchild International, and hadn’t thought twice about it. I was going the distance, but for the first time, I was having to ask myself who else was coming along for the ride.
****
Check out the previous installments:
Last year:
Week Forty-Nine:The True North
Week Fifty:The Garden State
This year:
Week Four:The Brain Trust
Week Six:The Snow Day

Week Seven:The Coin Flip

Week Eight:The Wicked Witch
Week Eleven:The State Dinner
Week Twelve:The Maple Leaf Rag
Week Thirteen:The Large Endowment
Week Fourteen:The Transit Authority
Week Fifteen:The Ten Forty
Week Sixteen:The Bachelor Party
Week Seventeen:The Refugee Crisis
Week Eighteen:The Taco Bowl
Week Nineteen:The Trending Topic
Week Twenty-One:The Blessed Event
Week Twenty-Two:The 3AM Feeding
Week Twenty-Three:The Stuffed Elephant
Week Twenty-Four: The Inevitable Endorsement