Luke Benjamin Skywalker and Leia Winama Skywalker were off elsewhere in the hospital. Padme had objected to that, but had been overruled. Of all the things Sola had warned her about, why hadn’t she mentioned how helpless the doctors insisted on rendering a new mother in the hospital? If Padme had known that, she might have given birth at home.
She woke up late Monday morning at a little past 8:30, feeling much better than she had when she’d fallen asleep Sunday night. Part of that might have been the location; she’d been moved out of the maternity ward and into a quiet private room, with a window overlooking nothing in particular and a TV overlooking her bed. Idly she picked up the remote from the table and flipped it on.
CNN, American Morning. It would be responsible of her to keep the TV here, and so keep up on what was going on. Of course, that meant remembering what they’d passed on Congress while she had been in the hospital. Not for the first time she wondered if it was at all responsible having two children when they now had to live in the world she and her colleagues were making right now.
She changed the channel. NBC, ABC, PBS. Well, she’d being seeing enough of the last in the years to come. If her Republican colleagues didn’t succeed in shutting it down first.
She watched Clifford for a bit before changing the channel again. ESPN. Weather Channel. She paused again for a minute to enjoy the music from the local forecast. Comedy Central.
On which she was promptly faced with a photograph of herself, nine months pregnant, on display behind Stephen Colbert. It looked as if they’d finally decided to broadcast her interview, which she’d finally agreed to when Ella had advised her that if she didn’t, he’d interview her opponent instead. Which had reduced her staff to trying to convince the man they'd refused to accept her last minute agreement, and when he'd already booked the interview with her challenger. At least they'd done it; Padme suspected because she was so easy a target.
“-none other than first-time Democrat Padme Skywalker, who despite her name isn’t walking on too many skies right now; as you can see from the picture, she’s otherwise occupied. Last I heard she was in the hospital, ready to blow.” This comment earned a few cheers for some reason. But even if this episode had originally been broadcast late last week, Colbert had been behind the times; Padme had already been in labor by then.
“But I did recently sit down with Mrs. Skwalker-”
At this point the door opened and Anakin practically waltzed in with a declaration of “Morning!” and gave her a huge kiss. “Saw the children on the way up here; they’re looking good.”
“I've been assured they’re in perfect health,” Padme answered him. “I feel fine myself; I really don’t know why I’m still here.”
The conversation momentarily lapsed, and in the ensuing silence, the voice of Colbert from the TV came loud and clear, “So, you’re glad your husband’s arm was blown off?”
As one, they looked up at the TV, where the interview had started. Padme watched as, flustered despite knowing what was coming, she replied, “Well, I think he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.” If she thought it was better, in the long run, that his arm had been blown off, well, she wasn’t about to admit to it even in private, let alone on TV.
“Mom watched that,” Anakin commented. “She didn’t find it that funny.”
Padme didn’t blame her. She understood why an ordinary citizen might find The Colbert Report funny. She’d even laughed herself at his performance at the White House Press Conference Dinner, but her laughter had held a bitter edge to it. It was easy for him to laugh about those in charge from his studio in New York. He didn’t have to deal with them as his colleagues on a daily basis. He didn’t feel any responsibility to make things better, or feel like a complete failure when he didn’t. And yes, he didn’t have to worry about being reelected.
“So you’re in favor of abortions, but refusing to have one yourself?”
Padme had prepared an answer in case he asked that question. She watched herself rattle it off now, noting how ridiculously diplomatic her phrasing was. It was sensible and right and genuinely reflected her opinion, but it didn’t really play well in this context.
“So basically you’re saying women should be allowed to kill their babies whenever they want, unless they have an attack of conscience.”
“I wouldn’t put it that way.” It was a weak answer, and she’d known it even then. But what else could she have said?
“But that’s still, basically, what you’re saying.”
She’d gotten advice from some of her younger aides of what to say to him if he brought up this issue. Play along and ridicule herself. Tell him that as a man, he wasn’t allowed an opinion on abortion. Try to change the subject. Sitting opposite him, she hadn’t remembered most of it. Instead she was saying something about complicated issues.
The camera had been zooming in on her. She hadn’t realized it had been doing that. With a surge of hot anger, she realized they’d been getting ready to see her cry. At that point in her pregnancy, every moment spent in public had been a full-out battle with her hormones, and they were taking advantage of it.
She wondered if they were deliberately airing this after Clinton’s blowup on Fox. She’d understood just how he’d felt when she’d seen that. All through this interview, she’d wanted to scream at Colbert that she was trying. Of course his character wouldn’t have appreciated it, but even beneath the character, she’d felt as if the real Stephen Colbert was reproaching her on behalf of the American public.
“Finally, George W. Bush: great president, or the *greatest* president?” She's just shook her head there, fed up. “I’ll put you down for great. Thank you for taking time out of your weighed down schedule to talk to me, Mrs. Skywalker.”
Feeling empty, Padme took the remote and turned the TV off. “There goes my seat.”
Anakin shrugged. “I don’t think anyone who watches his show would vote against a Democrat this year. Everyone’s desperate to get the House back, right?”
“It’s never that simple.” There would be plenty of people watching who would vote against the Democrats this year, but most of them would do so because they hadn’t even tried stopping the Republicans. Padme didn’t yet dare hope they’d win the House. Or that she’d be reelected.