“I must not use these powers for the forces of evil,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told aides after emerging from the Oval Office after a confrontational meeting with the President. He fist bumped the intern that told him to watch the movie Inception and turned to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the crowds of cameras rushed past them.
“I can’t believe I just got him to take responsibility for shutting down the government.”
The ploy has been weeks in development. Ever since stumbling into a conversation among his interns about the best movies in the past few years and learning about the plot of Inception, Senator Schumer has pondered the idea of trying it on President Trump.
Hailey Harris, one of the interns, recalled the conversation that started it all.
“We segued from movies to what it meant to incept an idea in someone else, and how the key was to make it seem as if it was their idea, all along. Someone else said something like, ‘it must be way easier to incept an idea in an idiot, or a child,’ and the senator got this far off look in his eyes, like he just came up with something big.”
That something big was remarkably simple: Incept an idea in President Donald Trump. Dubbed Project Schumer-Ception from the start, the project was almost a joke, at first. But then legislative assistant Clyde Bentham got wind of it and reached out to his friend and scriptwriter Thomas Mann, who had consulted with Christopher Nolan when he was writing the movie script for Inception.
“Tommy recalled telling Mr. Nolan that it was brilliant, but also kind of far-fetched,” Bentham said. “But was shocked when Mr. Nolan produced some underground papers from the 1950s that suggested it was not only possible, but far easier than many people could imagine.”
With Mann and Bentham’s encouragement, Project Schumer-Ception gained a sudden reputability and was put on the fast track. An intellectual property attorney was even consulted to make sure everything was legal.
“I laughed,” Janice Gersham, a senior-level associate at Pierce & Wodnewski, admitted. “I laughed for awhile. But then I looked up and they were still there, stone-faced and serious and I was like ‘you’re kidding me.’”
After researching and writing a brief for five minutes and billing the Senator’s office for an hour, Ms. Gersham sent the Project manager an email that concluded that, while it depended on the end result of the venture, it probably wouldn’t be illegal to incept an idea in the President of the United States.
“The law just hasn’t gotten this far,” read the final line.
With the green light, Project Schumer-Ception members began training the Senator on how to incept an idea in President Trump and make it seem like it was his idea.
Bentham remembered the process: “We sat down to watch a few interviews with Mr. Trump to get an idea of what we were looking at, and a few minutes into the first one our consultant psychologist hit the pause button and said, ‘yeah, we’ve got this.’”
Training Senator Schumer what to say and how to broach the conversation was also quick and easy. Scheduling records from the office show that he was supposed to be in a closed-door meeting with staff to discuss “PSC stuff” from 2-4pm on December 2nd. However, the meeting was adjourned after 16 minutes.
Setting up a televised press conference with the President was just as easy. When Schumer’s chief of staff, Gertrude Williams, called the White House to propose a meeting between the President and the Senator, the President himself jumped on the line and said he demanded there be cameras.
That was when Senator Schumer was struck with another idea.
“With everything lining up so well, I thought, ‘you know who’d want to be a part of this? Nancy.’”
Fresh off her election as speaker of the house, Ms. Pelosi was itching for some screen time.
“I told her that all she needed to do was sound like the rational woman at the negotiating table, and she was in,” Schumer explained. “I didn’t fully disclose what we were going to do, on our side. I just said, ‘we’re going to try something.’”
With the cameras rolling in the Oval Office and the President demanding money for his border wall, Senator Schumer found a prime opportunity to pull the trigger.
“I was still a little skeptical about to whole thing, to be honest, so I initiated Project Schumer-Ception on something small, innocuous, and, frankly, kind of obvious – his tendency to make demands or threaten to throw a tantrum. In the middle of the conversation, I incepted the idea to shut down the government if he didn’t get his way. I kind of figured it would take days or even months for him adopt the idea as his own. When it did it in under three seconds, I looked at Nancy and made the sign I told her I’d make if our experiment was looking good.”
“It was hilarious, how easy it was.” Schumer admitted with a chuckle. “The hardest part of the whole ordeal was trying not to laugh.”
With Schumer-Ception an apparent success, the goal had been to get back to the office and decide how to best proceed. Senator Schumer, however, had another idea.
“It was so easy that I just knew I had to try again later in the interview. When I gave him the idea to brag about winning Indiana and North Dakota in the Senate, I was worried that I had gone too far and that it was too flippant. I broke eye contact and glanced around nervously, worried that I’d just blown it. But he took that one, too. I was so surprised that I just stared at him for a minute until he noticed and did that orange-faced smile at me.”
“I was two-for-two,” Schumer noticed. “It all seemed so easy, so when opportunity came up I figured, why not go for it all, right now?”
“It’s going to be a fun two years,” Schumer predicted with a huge grin.
When asked if he thought Vice President Pence knew what was going on, Schumer laughed.
“How could he? He wasn’t at the meeting was he?”