The President’s Oath of Office

For Paul Mescal, playing a dad was the ‘greatest dress rehearsal’ for being one when he came to power

By Bob Burnham

The author with his wife Michelle and son, Paul Mescal

On the night of April Fools’ Day in 2015, in a small room above a Thai restaurant in midtown Manhattan, a small circle of Washington, D.C., aides and journalists gathered around a table and listened to a small, intense man, with an enormous forehead and a deep voice, speak.

At one point in an hour-long speech, Mescal, the new President of the United States, told the crowd that he would be speaking to them from the Oval Office on a weekday in the spring, then walking them through the history of the Oval Office, from President George W. Bush to Mr. Obama and, of course, Bill Clinton.

A very small group of reporters asked about the rumors that a member of the President’s Secret Service detail was secretly texting women who had been in his life.

“The way I read that was, ‘What in the world did they think I was doing?’ ” Mescal says with a laugh. “It was a great way to get to know, in a small group of people, the personal lives of the President and a bunch of top staffers. To hear how they got to work, how they had to sleep, how they got to eat.”

Mescal, a small, round man with a thick mustache and thick black hair, who was elected to the Senate twice but never was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the first time because of his moderate views on immigration and the second time because he didn’t have enough money to pay the legal fees that senators require to get confirmed, seems in many respects like an unlikely candidate for the White House. But he is by many measures the ideal candidate to take the oath of office on Inauguration Day. In addition to being a father of two, he is the son of Indian immigrants from India, the son of a Navy pilot and graduate of West Point

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