"Well, isn't it?"
"Sure, but not in the literal way that so many people think. What's more important is to insinuate an idea into the back of people's minds, to get them to think about your issue in a way that breaks down their objections to it. And, yeah, some people say that's being manipulative, but so is advertising, and so is what Derek does when he lights a fire under a group of people and gets them off their duff."
She glanced over towards the door. Derek was speaking to someone else now. "So you think he's just a good motivational speaker?"
"I do. I also think the reason he does it is worth fighting for. But getting back to what you were on about earlier" He's right. Everyone in government is corruptible. There's too much opportunity to pass it all up -- money, power, recognition. Whatever you really want, there's someone out there willing to trade it for something you don't consider important."
Her face hardened. "No. I know my father. He would never --."
Falk shook his head. "He's probably already done it more times that even he likes to think about. None of them talk about it. None of them admits it. But they all do it. They have to. It's the only way to get things done. It's politics. That's what government's all about. Believe me. I've been spoiling their games since I was in grade school."
"That doesn't change the fact that he accused my father of being bought and paid for, and then had the nerve to just walk away."
"Oh, I understood. I understood that he thinks he can level charges against people indiscriminately. That his buds will step up to protect him. That's what you're doing, you know. Bodyguarding him." Her voice rose a notch. "Well, I have this to say about that. If you're going to accuse people, at least have the decency do it to their face. Letting someone else fight your battles is just an underhanded way of ducking accountability. Out in the real world, when you slander someone, there are penalties. You can be sued, you know!"
"Out in the real word?" Falk said sharply. "What do you know about living in the real word? You're certainly not going to learn about that by watching your father. Congresspeople live in a maze of perks offered by the hired mouthpieces of every special interest you can imagine. And it all goes back to money, because there's a mountain of it to be made by getting enough congresspeople to dance to your tune. If you want to talk about accountability, start there. Who's your father really accountable to, the people who voted for him, the people in his district, or the moneyed interests that call his tune?"
Melissa was aghast. "So what do you expect me to do? Accuse my own father of kowtowing to special interests, dare him to stand up to the people whose money makes it possible to grease the wheels of compromise?"
"That'd do for a start," a calm voice said close to her right ear. It was the redhead. She held out a hand. "Hi. I'm Gisela. You're new here, aren't you."
"And I think it'll be a very short visit, too. I'm leaving."
Melissa looked around for Boa. He hadn't moved, but was watching intently. "After what he said? Why should I?"
Gisella smiled broadly. "Because you've proven his point."