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Old 12-27-2012, 03:17 AM   #1
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Lend me your brains... (plot help needed)

So tell me if this works or is too much of a stretch:

Future Presidential candidate Bill Smith is a staunch isolationist. Anti-foreigners, especially anti-French, and is taking the lead in an on-going Franco-US dispute over the ownership of some islands in the Atlantic.

A historian he hired to put together his family tree as far back as possible has discovered that he has French blood. Royal French blood.

Question: if revealed would this be enough to derail his candidacy? Can you imagine blackmail? Murder? Or would people say, "Meh, so what?"
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:22 AM   #2
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The news media would probably behave as if it would be enough to derail his candidacy. They tend to play to the most combustible denominator so I'd anticipate at least a little smearing. Certainly some very vocal outliers would take that information and run with it, and they'd be loud enough to drown out the moderate position. But then, when it came to election time and the actual votes were counted, he'd discover that the vast majority of people are aware that everyone in the United States who is not a member of an indigenous group has immigrants in their family history therefore getting upset about it is kind of stupid.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:24 AM   #3
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I'm a little confused. So this guy is running for President of the US, he's xenophobic, but it turns out he has roots in French royalty? Is that it? Why would that derail his presidential run?
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:29 AM   #4
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Sorry, I miss read. He's a candidate, not the actual Pres.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:29 AM   #5
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hmm, possible impacts. If his core group of supporters (read: financiers) were rabid anti-French, it could cut off his funding and, therefore, kill his election chances.

The public, at large, might still not care so much. Look at Romney's Mexican ties, for example. (It might have actually hurt him more with Hispanics than it did with anglos.)

A counter subversion campaign might find a way to spin the discovery, creating a "reveal!" of a conspiracy -- a land grab by Mr. Smith as he tries to use his family tree to steal or claim the island lands and associated mineral rights.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:30 AM   #6
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I'm a little confused. So this guy is running for President of the US, he's xenophobic, but it turns out he has roots in French royalty? Is that it? Why would that derail his presidential run?

Yes, xenophobic is right. It's not so much that it would derail his run but that he'd be afraid it would. In other words, he's been banging the isolationist drum (and also the 'look at those stupid europeans with their kings and royalty' drum) and suddenly not only does he have French blood but royal French blood.

And the person who discovers this, thinks "Oooh, blackmail!" And he himself thinks, "Only one person knows about this, I shall kill him!"

Too far-fetched?!
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:34 AM   #7
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Too far-fetched?!
Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm thinking you need a good beta, just to be safe.

I do like Willie's thought. If there were a real chance they were going to cut off funding if they found out, that adds an extra layer of panic to it.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:52 AM   #8
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Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm thinking you need a good beta, just to be safe.

I do like Willie's thought. If there were a real chance they were going to cut off funding if they found out, that adds an extra layer of panic to it.
I know who my beta will be.

And I like Willie's thought, too, I can use that. Plus if I make paranoia an actual diagnosis of Mr. Smith...
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:54 AM   #9
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Oo, nice. That rounds it out well, for me. It would have to be reasonably well-disguised, I'd think, for him to be in public office, but it's a good angle to take.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:17 AM   #10
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> {...} is taking the lead in an on-going Franco-US dispute
> over the ownership of some islands in the Atlantic.

Small islands are money pits for whoever 'owns' them. Canada has once been offered an island in the Caribbeans for a token C$1 and we politely refused. We'd be buying their debt and perpetual annual deficit. Thanks but no thanks.


> Or would people say, "Meh, so what?"

Royal French blood won't get you a free drink at the local tavern. Royalty got kicked out of French soil, remember? At worst, your candidate would wear a permanent egg on his face.


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Old 12-28-2012, 12:30 AM   #11
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Yes, xenophobic is right. It's not so much that it would derail his run but that he'd be afraid it would.
Maybe he'd been an active member of the KKK some while ago. Or maybe he has an illicit child with a Frenchwoman that he's not aware of ... yet. Maybe the US/France litigation is not about some island but about Europe's deployment of its own GPS system and their intention to sell the military code to China and the former USSR states.

Just thinking aloud.

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:25 AM   #12
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Maybe he'd been an active member of the KKK some while ago. Or maybe he has an illicit child with a Frenchwoman that he's not aware of ... yet. Maybe the US/France litigation is not about some island but about Europe's deployment of its own GPS system and their intention to sell the military code to China and the former USSR states.

Just thinking aloud.

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Thanks cb, that's exactly what I need, the brainstorming. Much appreciated.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:45 PM   #13
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Maybe your candidate was decorated for action in Afghanistan. A Frenchman working for the Red Cross was a witness. Now, 15 years later, with France in diplomatic turmoil with the US, rumors of prisoners being tortured by the same unit the candidate was in are beginning to resurface. Only that Frenchman, now head of United Nation's War Relief Unit in New-York, knows the truth. Catch-22. Will he help him clear his name, or cave in to France's political smearing plans?

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Old 12-29-2012, 03:58 AM   #14
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In regard to the taint of French blood, I'll go with your, "Meh, so what?"

Many politicians and public figures have worked tirelessly to lower the bar on what the public will swallow as "acceptable". Recognizing that, I suggest that you plant a genuine bomb in his family tree or past behavior. I'd start by coming up with something so foul that it puts a sour taste in your mouth. You could then decide if that is sufficient for your purpose, or perhaps tone it down a bit.

In other words, I think it would be helpful to come up with something that would bother you as much or even more as the average voter.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:16 AM   #15
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I don't think the French blood is a strong enough device to hang such a serious response leading to murder.

I like the idea of a French woman affair, say if she were say a well known figure like an actress, but even then I'd want something more.

I have enough trouble coming up with my own plots to be of any help, but I do think an important component, whatever it is, is urgency. He needs to be faced with imminent disaster from the problem, and believe he's forced to act on it before it's too late.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:23 AM   #16
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I'll go with the "meh so what" crowd re: French blood in ancestry. In America, all of us (except for Native Americans) are imports from somewhere, fairly recently in historical terms.

For politicians, follow the money. What if it turns out his family money came from some alliance his father had with a French business? And now he has to make a choice: give up the money (not going to happen) or shut up the person who's going to take the evidence to the media.

(finished your book, btw. when's the next one coming out?)
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:27 AM   #17
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Unless you cast this in a totally fantasy world, most Americans would go meh, who cares? You'd really have to have an alternate world of some kind where most Americans totally hatetheFrench.

As for French royalty? Didn't that all end back in the late 1700's? Old news. Boring news. Now make him the illegitimate son of some high-ranking terrorist leader ...

Even that might make most American readers go meh ...
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:18 AM   #18
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Quote:
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I'll go with the "meh so what" crowd re: French blood in ancestry. In America, all of us (except for Native Americans) are imports from somewhere, fairly recently in historical terms.

For politicians, follow the money. What if it turns out his family money came from some alliance his father had with a French business? And now he has to make a choice: give up the money (not going to happen) or shut up the person who's going to take the evidence to the media.

(finished your book, btw. when's the next one coming out?)
Agreeing with the 'meh' on French ancestry by itself. That's a momentary embarrassment, nothing more. "Oops, haha, turns out my own family has French blood. They are sneaky devils, heh-heh, and I stand by what I've been saying."

What if it's something more recent and financial, rather than social? What if his family was French, way back, came over with Lafayette, and helped found the country, and took 'American' as their identity, shunning all other foriegn entanglements.
Over the years they lost track of their roots, socially, but professionally, maintain tenuous ties with another branch of the family back in France.
Both sides become very successful. That's how he gets enough money for politics.
Comes WWII, the French family firm worked very,very closely with the invading Germans. Collaborators, in fact.
And his father backed them, with information and materials, all through the war, which the family never revealed.
That might be a little too close home for a politician.
Especially as now a story is coming out, detailing atrocities committed by the French branch, and revealing the family connection.
Unfortunately, the man who discovered the story is trying a little blackmail, first.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:35 AM   #19
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I think the US public will swallow pretty much any past, if it's spun properly.

Corporate sponsors, now...that's another story. If a candidate's sponsors turn on him, he doesn't have a chance, even if he's the best person for the job.

How about something in his past that specifically bothers his financial backers? Whether or not it's relevant to the rest of the country wouldn't matter in that case, and he'd be just as doomed.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:32 AM   #20
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I agree with those in the "meh" category and agree that it needs to be twisted more to make it work. French blood isn't enough. I'm incapable of constructive commentary beyond that right now. Twist it like a garrote!
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:08 AM   #21
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Just to say thanks to everyone. I've figured out how to do what to whom and why, I think. I'd have replied sooner but I was away and the dang apartment had useless wifi.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:26 AM   #22
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Okay, you've figured it out, but just in case that doesn't work out, another angle:

He finds out about the ancestry, and though that wouldn't have sunk him, his knee-jerk overreaction in the moment puts him in an indefensible position. Say, on the spot he offers a bribe, or he deletes classified info, or cold-cocks a guy that gets a head injury, or something. Then he has to cover it up the only way he knows how.

Spider's web, etc.
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:17 PM   #23
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Oo, that's a great idea Pyekett!
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:19 PM   #24
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I'm a big sucker for "he did it to himself" and natural consequences.

Sometimes it is an even better way to highlight the lack of connection with reality. Sometimes it isn't, and Mark will write the book he is writing, and it will be the perfect Mark book regardless of where he takes the plot. But of course we all know that.

That being said--the character sounds like a nutjob fanatic, and even if a sensible reader knows you can't underestimate the attention span and level of caring in the general population, maybe this guy would go there.

[deleted musings, as nobody here needs my brainspinning shenanigans]

... okay, time to go work on my own stuff. No room for another dead body for at least another chapter.

Heh.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:46 PM   #25
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Sounds like something that would work as a romantic comedy.
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