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June 25, 2021
Edith!
Welcome to the Dollhouse

In This Episode

“This is the Navy. We don’t let thousands of foreigners get slaughtered unless it’s in America’s best interest.”

Unbeknownst to the public, America has a brand new president. But an international incident might plunge the country back into war before Edith can even veto her first bill.

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Transcript

 

[loc. ship]

 

Sailor: It’s hard to make out, sir. It’s an Italian on the Dalmatian coast. They have hours, possibly minutes before they are attacked.

 

Captain: What else did this terrified Italian say?

 

[garbled transmission]

 

Sailor: And what do we do, sir?

 

Captain: We make land immediately. This is the Navy. We don’t let thousands of foreigners get slaughtered, unless it’s in America’s best interest.

 

Sailor: Aye, aye sir.

 

[loc. White House]

 

Edith, voice over: A first lady, for all intents and purposes, is just a figurine in a doll house. You go to parties you didn’t ask for. You live in a home you didn’t furnish. I mean, who would choose to live in a home with a bust of Grover Cleveland? I’m an ornament for a nation’s weary eyes to admire. Just because Woodrow was resting didn’t mean the first lady could. I had an important schedule that I couldn’t avoid.

 

Edith: Who here loves being a Girl Scout?

 

Kids: Me!

 

Girl: Mrs. Wilson, when I grow up, I want to be a first lady just like you.

 

Edith: Well, if you study and work hard, maybe, just maybe one day you’ll marry a president.

 

Edith, voice over: I always hated talking to children until I met Trudie and now it just comes naturally.

 

[knocks]

 

Edith: Ah, Tumulty! Come in. I’m doing some very important work right now.

 

Tumulty: Madam First Lady, I need to speak to the president immediately.

 

Edith, voice over: It had been a few days since the president’s fall, and while he was resting, I had to take a few things into my own hands.

 

Tumulty: Ma’am, you’ve requested that I deliver any documents for the President to you personally.

 

Edith, voice over: For a long time, I didn’t appreciate Tumulty enough to learn anything about him.

 

Edith: Yes, that is what Woodrow requested. If there’s an issue, then . . .

 

Tumulty: Like I’ve said, I’m the President’s private secretary. My job is to deliver these documents, not ask questions.

 

Edith, voice over: But over time, I came to appreciate how little he cared to learn about me.

 

Tumulty: But this is a sensitive matter.

 

Edith: Tumulty, the President is recovering. If this is truly sensitive, I should hear it before his blood pressure does.

 

Tumulty: We have a situation with our Navy, off the Dalmatian coast. The Senate, especially Senator Lodge, is furious. We need to know what Woodrow wants to do.

 

Edith, voice over: Here’s the thing, knowing what Woodrow wants to do is a little complicated because, well . . .

 

Dr. Grayson: My God, the President is paralyzed.

 

Edith, voice over: A few days earlier on the morning after Woodrow’s scare, Trudie, Dr. Grayson and I had a nice, rational conversation about our next steps.

 

Dr. Grayson: Edith, we can’t keep this from the press, Congress, the cabinet.

 

Edith: [whispering] Why not?

 

Dr. Grayson: [whispering] Because, because he’s in a coma. Our country has no leader.

 

Trudie: I have a question.

 

Edith: Woodrow will wake up today, tomorrow, the next day.

 

Dr. Grayson: We don’t know that.

 

Edith: And when he does, if he’s not president anymore because you overreacted, that will kill him.

 

Trudie: Excuse me. Can I ask a question?

 

Dr. Grayson: So we lie?

 

Edith: No, we tell the truth. The president had a fall, which he did, and he’s on a path to recovery, which he is.

 

Trudie: Um, can, can I ask a—

 

Edith: Sorry, Trudie. What, what’s your question?

 

Trudie: Why are we whispering?

 

Dr. Grayson: We don’t want to disturb the President, honey. He’s sleeping.

 

Trudie: But don’t we want him to wake up?

 

Edith: [normal volume] Right, couldn’t hurt. Dr. Grayson, you’re Woodrow’s best friend, with everything he’s fought for, you really think he’d throw it all away just because of a minor fall?

 

Dr. Grayson: Stroke.

 

Trudie: Honey, we’re calling it a fall.

 

Edith: Tell me, Grayson, do you really want to be the one to end your friend’s presidency?

 

Dr. Grayson: I’ll draft a press release saying it’s exhaustion and he just needs a week or two of rest.

 

Edith, voice over: If you ever read an article about someone with exhaustion, just know it’s never exhaustion.

 

[loc. White House, Oval Office].

 

Edith, voice over: But from that morning on, I made sure Woodrow’s wishes were carried out. I’d do whatever I got Woodrow would do and Trudie would help. I mean, I’m not, you can’t see it, but I’m doing this little quotation fingers.

 

Trudie: This office is amazing. A big green oval and not a corner in sight, And that chair, only Woodrow and Taft have ever been allowed to sit in that chair.

 

Edith: Woodrow, Taft and now . . .  Trudy.

 

Trudie: I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I will. [laughs] Huh. It’s a bit saggy.

 

Edith: Oh, you’ve just learned one of every president’s first lessons, nothing about power is as good as it seems, not even the cushions. I’ve been reviewing the documents Tumulty dropped off. And that man is right. This Dalmatian situation is—

 

Trudie: Ruff.

 

Edith: Our idiot Navy boys were tricked by a bunch of Italian terrorists into invading a foreign country without permission. The whole thing is—.

 

Trudie: Ruff.

 

Edith: Trudie, we have to be serious.

 

Trudie: But why? This is the first time in either of our young lives—

 

Edith: Oh, I love that you call me young. Keep going.

 

Trudie: —that we have the smallest bit of say. And if Woodrow going to wake up soon, let’s just for a brief moment ignore those terrorists Dalmatian puppies, and make some fun presidential decisions like . . . prohibition. What would Woodrow do about good ole American hooch?

 

Edith: Well, I mean, if we ban booze, the Vice President will burn this place to the ground.

 

Trudie: Veto! We veto. Let’s do a veto. Okay, next. What about potential Mexican war crimes? Ugh. Yuck. Edith?

 

Edith: Sorry. I’m, no I’m sorry, sweetie. I just, I know you want to have fun. I’m just, I’m distracted by the Dalmatia thing. I, I think we got to bury it.

 

Trudie: Bury it like a dog with a bone.

 

Edith: Woodrow’s whole League of Nations pitch is stopping countries from stumbling onto these diplomatic tripwires that accidentally start global wars. If it goes public our Navy did this, it’ll screw up the whole argument.

 

Trudie: Oh, so do we lie?

 

Edith: No, it’s not a lie if you keep something from someone. An omission isn’t a lie. It’s a, it’s a silent truth. So, yes, we bury this.

 

[loc. White House hallway]

 

Lansing: Madam First Lady, did you try and bury this incident from your own Secretary of State?

 

Edith, voice over: Clearly, I didn’t bury a deep enough.

 

Edith: No, that was Woodrow’s decision. I had nothing to do with it.

 

Lansing: [laughs] This is an international incident. Woodrow would have been smart enough to know that this document would be sent to people who work for me. I’m Secretary of State. Why wasn’t I consulted on this?

 

Edith, voice over: Because you’re lying, backstabbing traitor. I could go on.

 

Edith: Woodrow must have his reasons.

 

Lansing: It’s already in European papers. I had to hear it from Senator Lodge, who is demanding answers.

 

Edith: Woodrow will handle it.

 

Lansing: The President is dealing with an international crisis and he does not want counsel from his Secretary of State?

 

Edith: Yes. And if that is at all a problem, what are you going to do about it?

 

[loc. White House Cabinet Room]

 

Lansing: Gentlemen, I’ve called this secret cabinet meeting because something is not right. Something is very, very wrong in this White House. We have no choice. This chamber must run the country now.

 

Edith, voice over: And they say, I committed a coup.

 

[loc. White House, Rose Garden].

 

Edith, voice over: Remember what I said about the dollhouse?

 

Edith: I stand here with the descendants of the American Revolution to open—

 

Edith, voice over: Sometimes that Dollhouse gets new accessories like—

 

Edith: This plot of rosemary bushes, dedicated to the brave men who fell in the Second Barbary War.

 

Woman: Thank you, Madam First Lady. We appreciate your kind work.

 

Edith: Of course. It’s my pleasure. [sneezes]

 

Woman: God bless you.

 

Edith, voice over: I hate rosemary.

 

Tumulty: Madam First Lady,

 

Edith: Tumulty, you always catch me during my most important—hold on,I may be about to sneeze, hold on, no, no, I’m good. What’s the matter? Did another beach town get invaded by a group of Italians?

 

Tumulty: No, it’s worse. Lansing called a secret cabinet meeting. [sneezes] Excuse me. Anyway, he said the cabinet will run the country now.

 

Edith: What?! When?

 

Tumulty: Right now. But I have to go before they realize I’m not in the bathroom. The Secretary of War has a finicky prostate, so he’s in and out of there all the time.

 

[loc. White House Study]

 

Edith: Trudie, Trudie, Trudie, what are you doing?

 

Trudie: I’m teaching myself piano.

 

Edith: What?

 

Trudie: Yeah, I’m doing it by trial and error. If I play something and that sounds bad, then I just never touch those keys again.

 

Edith: Trudie, I need your weird creative brain.

 

Trudie: Wow. Thank you. Most of those words were really, really nice.

 

Edith: Lansing called a cabinet meeting.

 

Trudie: That doesn’t sound so bad.

 

Edith: Only the President is allowed to do that Trudie, it’s a coup. What do you think Woodrow would do?

 

Trudie: He’d try to stop it. Go stop it.

 

Edith: No, I can’t. I’m First Lady. First Ladies don’t have the authority to do that. They don’t have the authority to do well, much of anything.

 

Trudie: They don’t. But the President does, right?

 

Edith: Yes. Yes. Oh, so what would Woodrow do?

 

Trudie: Oh, you know, when I was a little girl, my class had this trip to a loom and my parents didn’t want me to go because last time we visited a loom, I broke the loom.

 

Edith: You heard me saying there’s a coup, right?

 

Trudie: Oh, I’ll skip to the end. I ended up going to the loom because my parents ended up signing the permission slip. Only they didn’t know they did. I signed it.

 

Edith: You’re saying I forged a letter from the President of the United States of America, even though it is definitely a crime.

 

Trudie: It worked for me. At least it would have, except I broke the loom again and then my parents had to pay for it.

 

Edith: [laughs[ I love you. I love you. [kiss]

 

Trudie: Oh, I love you, too. I love you, too. I love you, too.

 

[loc. White House, Cabinet Room]

 

Lansing: Gentlemen. Gentlemen. The newspapers already reported this naval officer broke chain of command. We’ll all be blamed for an unauthorized military inva—eh, Edith. Excuse me, can we help you?

 

Edith, voice over: When I entered the room, I saw them. Two rows on each side of the table, doughy, pale men, each with a different variation of mustache, each with a different amount of spittle in the corner of their mouths, but basically all exactly the same.

 

Edith: No, but I can help you. Woodrow found out about this little meeting and wrote a memo.

 

Lansing: Woodrow wrote and signed a presidential memorandum?

 

Edith: Yes. Thank you for Lansing for letting everyone here know what memo is short for. Very helpful. “To all Cabinet members. All Cabinet meetings from now on must be authorized by the President of the United States of America.”

 

Lansing: This is outrageous. No one can even talk to the president.

 

Edith: Huh? That’s a good point. Oh, wait. Looks like Woodrow addresses that in the next line. “If you wish to discuss policy matters with me, please speak with the First Lady.”—oh, hey, that’s me—”until my personal physician clears me from bed rest. Sincerely, President Woodrow Wilson.”

 

Lansing: Let me see that.

 

Edith: There it is. Like I said, typed and signed by the President himself.

 

Lansing: Here, take your letter back.

 

Edith: Thank you, Lansing. I love how you’re so thorough. Well, I guess that’s meeting adjourned, right?

 

Lansing: [laughs] Yes. Well.

 

[loc. White House, hallway]

 

Edith, voice over: I’ve enjoyed a lot of pleasure in my life, I’ve dined in Paris.

 

Trudie: Oh, my God, that was incredible, Edith. I was listening from the hallway.

 

Edith, voice over: I’ve shopped in Paris.

 

Edith: No, I mean, I can’t believe it. All I have to do is write something on presidential letterhead and everyone just has to do it.

 

Edith, voice over: I married the president of the United States while he was President and then we honeymooned in D.C., but we would have gone to Paris, but there was a war thing. You want to see Paris in the fall. You don’t want to see Paris when it falls.

 

Trudie: It’s crazy they give anyone that power.

 

Edith: It only seems crazy when the power belongs to someone else. [laughs]

 

Edith, voice over: But nothing, none of it brought me more pleasure than telling all those old fools what to do. To let them know that I make the rules.

 

[loc. White House, Ceremony Room]

 

Edith: As I stand here to honor the oldest living generals from the Civil War, I’m reminded of the dignity and humanity on both sides of this great, great conflict. Both sides fought equally for just causes.

 

Edith, voice over: Ignore that part.

 

Edith: Both sides heroic in their own way.

 

Edith, voice over: And that part too.

 

Edith: Both sides held in high regard.

 

Edith, voice over: This next part is OK.

 

Edith: Woodrow’s greatest passion is ending war. And with the help of the senators in this room, we hope to prevent future wars so brother may never have to fight brother again on the battlefield, at home or abroad. Thank you.

 

Edith: All right, Trudie what did you brainstorm while I was making the speech.

 

Trudie: OK, well, I wrote down what will Woodrow do about Dalmatian Coast? And then, and I’m prematurely sorry for this, I wrote down a series of dog puns.

 

Edith: Let me see. “1. Admit it’s a spotty situation, 2. Paws and reflect.” [chuckles] Trudie, this is the least helpful thing you’ve ever done. But thanks. I’ve got to get back to shaking all those clammy old hands.

 

Edith: Hello, General.

 

General McCausland: 8th Rifle Regiment, Virginia Confederate Battalion, and the pleasure is all mine, ma’am.

 

Edith: As a fellow Virginian, it is an honor, General. I can tell you those union dogs played dirty, burned down churches. In my book, you are the real heroes. Our cause was lost but not forgotten.

 

General McCausland: [whispering] I can spot a fellow Reb a mile away. Lots of politicians lie, but not you and your husband. And I love that honesty almost as much as I love his policies.

 

Edith: Thank you, sir. Excuse me in one minute.

 

Edith: I’ve got it, Trudie. Trudie, are you ready to take dictation?

 

Trudie: Ready.

 

Edith: The Woodrow administration ran on honesty. If word is already out, I believe he’d want us to draft a press release telling the truth about what really happened.

 

Trudie: Ooooh, honesty.

 

Edith: You like it?

 

Trudie: Honestly, I love it.

 

Edith: Great. OK, hold on a second. I’ve got to get back to these old—oh, God damn it.

 

Trudie: Edith. What’s going on? Who are you looking at?

 

Edith, voice over: There, talking to the next general in line, was the man I hated most in the world.

 

Edith: Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. What is he doing here? Christ.

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: Madam First Lady. I’m happy I caught you.

 

Edith: Now, now, wait your turn, Senator. I’m here to speak to General, uh . . .

 

General Durham: Thomas Durham, 15th Regiment, Massachusetts Union Volunteer Infantry, Ma’am.

 

Edith: Thank you for your service General Durham. Your union men fought honorably with integrity, courage and decency on your side.

 

General Durham: We sure did, ma’am. We got those rebs on the run.

 

Edith: Yes, you did. Speaking of honor and decency, Senator Lodge, I see you’re here learning what a decent Massachusetts man looks like.

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: I was hoping I’d see you.

 

Edith: Why? Couldn’t you just ask Lansing to spy for you whenever you want? I heard you were over in the Senate causing a fuss about the Dalmatian coast, and—

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: A fuss? [chuckles] Wanting small crumbs of information about an international incident is certainly not a fuss. We just want a statement. Any statement.

 

Edith: Well, you’re in luck, Senator. Woodrow’s decided to be honest with the American people. We’re about to admit that a naval officer disobeyed his chain of command and we’re apologizing for our involvement in that mess.

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: [chuckles] No, but really, what is this statement?

 

Edith: What do you mean.

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: You’re serious? That’s the plan? [laughs] Thank you for your service, General. You’ve just witnessed the North meet the South for a second time. [laughs]

 

Trudie: I don’t get what was so funny. You didn’t even tell a joke. What happened?

 

Edith: I don’t think he’s the kind of person who laughs at jokes, I think he’s the kind of person who laughs when he wins.

 

[loc. Capitol]

 

Henry Cabot Lodge: For days, I heard the same rumors as many of you fine members of the press, but I could never bring myself to believe it. It is not possible in my lifetime that a president would allow his own troops to commit an act of war without our approval. But then yesterday, I was shocked to my core. I received secret confirmation that the White House has lost control of its naval officers. Is this the leader you trust to put our safety in the hands of some new world order, some League of Nations? A man who cannot control his own Navy? I am calling on President Wilson to resign immediately.

 

[loc. White House, President’s Bedroom]

 

Edith: I hated being a middle child. Well, close to it, I mean that many siblings, you’d forgive me for forgetting the order, but there was something really shitty about being seventh. Everything was hand me down. Everything was shared. We had this big, beautiful doll house and hundreds of little miniatures: chairs, candlesticks with happy little golden retriever perpetually holding a bone. Because I was seventh and third of the girls, each piece already had a place. The story was set and if I so much as moved one figurine, Annie would do this awful thing where she got every other child to pretend they couldn’t hear me when I spoke. For days. I’d start to feel like I didn’t exist. Like a ghost. And just because I wanted to make a few decisions, because I wanted the smallest bit of control. I know you can’t hear me Woodrow, but whenever I make any decision, I feel like I’m letting you down. You sacrificed so much to build the League of Nations, and just like that, I throw it all away. I tried so hard to do what you do and tell the truth. And right now I just want you to wake up and tell me how to fix this.

 

Trudie: Believe in yourself. You can do this, Edith.

 

Edith: Christ! Trudie! I nearly died.

 

Trudie: Sorry. Too Far? [laughs] You left the door open.

 

Edith: No, no, no. [laughs] You’re lucky, I like you.

 

Trudie: I am. Can I ask you something? Were there ever moments when Woodrow didn’t know what to do?

 

Edith: Of course, all the time.

 

Trudie: And who would he ask?

 

Edith: He would, he would ask me.

 

Trudie: Exactly. So maybe stop asking what would Woodrow do, and start asking what would Edith do? Because honestly, that’s what Woodrow would do.

 

Edith: Thank you, Trudie. Thank you.

 

Trudie: Any time, like, literally, even if I’m sleeping, I can wake up, give advice and then go back to sleep just like that.

 

[loc. White House Hallway]

 

Edith, voice over: I ran as fast as I could because I finally knew what I had to do.

 

General Durham: Hello. Hello?

 

Edith: General Durham, what are you still doing here? Are you just wandering around?

 

General Durham: I turned a wrong corner, and got lost on the way to the exit.

 

Edith: It’s been like five hours since the other veterans left.

 

General Durham: Senator Lodge said he’d be honored to drive me home, but he must have left without me.

 

Edith: All right. Come with me, General. Guess what, General? I just figured out how to defeat the enemy.

 

General Durham: Enemy? Who is the enemy now?

 

Edith: Lansing!

 

Lansing: Edith. Finally. What is happening with Dalmatia? If what Lodge is saying is true—

 

Edith: It’s not true.

 

Lansing: He told me that you said—

 

Edith: I don’t know who leaked that to that viper, but it’s false. This is the real statement.

 

Lansing: None of this statement is true, none of this happened.

 

Edith: You must be mistaken because the statement says it’s true. And good news, Lansing, the president agrees that you’re Secretary of State and that these issues should run directly through you. So he wants you to read this statement to the press immediately.

 

Lansing: I, I, I can’t just lie.

 

Edith: Hmm. Well, Woodrow did hand me something else.

 

Lansing: This is a resignation letter.

 

Edith: I know specifically your resignation.

 

Lansing: On what grounds?

 

Edith: You called a cabinet meeting and announced you run the country now. How will that look to the press, the public? You’ll never work for another administration again. The press is waiting, Lansing. Which one of these do you want to read?

 

Edith, voice over: Remember how I said that stuff earlier felt too good to describe? This felt better.

 

General Durham: Hello.

 

Lansing: Who is that?

 

General Durham: I’m lost.

 

Edith: A war hero. He’s going to stand behind you during the statement. Highlight how our president supports our brave men in uniform.

 

[loc. White House Briefing Room]

 

Lansing: As Secretary of State, it is my duty to dispel the rumors circulating about our brave naval men in Dalmatia. Senator Lodge’s statement was not only false, but an intentional lie that put many members of our brave military in danger. He should be ashamed of himself. I am ashamed for him. Three days ago, Serbian soldiers surrounded a group of Italians, threatening genocide on neutral land. Captain David F. Boyd Jr. and his men took action under the peacekeeping authority granted them by the Treaty of Versailles. The President has asked me to allow General Durham to honor us with the last words of this statement.

 

General Durham: God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

 

[press questions] Secretary Lansing! Mr, Secretary! Will—

 

General Durham: Can anyone take me home?

 

Edith, voice over: A quick trip to Paris was out of the question, but I celebrated with the next best thing. I had Tumulty call for two movers to help me rearrange the Oval Office.

 

Mover: This where you want the desk, Madam First Lady?

 

Edith: Yes, but a little more to the left. A little more. Perfect. Trudie, come in. Come in. What do you think?

 

Trudie: Wow. This new set really accentuates the lack of corners. I love it.

 

Mover: Madam First Lady, the new chair you ordered just arrived.

 

Trudie: What? You got a new chair.

 

Edith: You said the other one was saggy. And this is not just any chair. This is a Chesterfield buttoned captain’s chair with a metal swivel and wheels.

 

Trudie: Oh, my God. A Chesterfield?

 

Edith: Why not take it for a spin?

 

Trudie: I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I will. Whooooo!

 

Edith, voice over: It’s easy as First Lady or even as President, to let others turn you into a figurine. To tell you where to sit, tell you where to go, tell you what to do. But now the doll house was finally mine. It even came with the happy little golden retriever perpetually holding the bone.

 

Trudie: I am so proud of you, Edith. I always knew you’d be good at this job, but I didn’t know you’d be this good.

 

Edith, voice over: There were a few days there with Trudie by my side, that things really clicked into place, that I really saw what a different world could look like where I didn’t have to act like a figurine, where the good guys actually won for once.

 

Trudie: Wooooo! Oh, ow, dang. Ow. OK, I broke the chair.

 

Edith: Tumulty! Tumulty!

 

Tumulty: Yes, ma’am?

 

Edith: The president is going to need a new chair, immediately.

 

Tumulty: Right away, ma’am,

 

Edith, voice over: But it wouldn’t be long before things started falling apart.