Imagine for a moment that it’s January 2009. Bernie Madoff, America’s poster-child fraudster, has yet to be caught. The 2007-2008 financial crisis never happened. The markets didn’t tank to reveal the emptiness beneath his schemes. We still don’t know what’s lurking in his tax returns because he’s never released them, but we know that he’s a billionaire, at least on paper. We also know, of course, that he just won the presidency by featuring the slogan — on hats, t-shirts, everywhere — “Make America Rich Again!” On a frosty morning in late January, before his colleagues, his country, God, and the world, Madoff takes the oath of office. He swears on a Bible to uphold the constitution.
The next day, everything comes crashing down. The banks. The markets. His fortune.
Madoff is a businessman, not a politician. He’s run and won as an anti-establishment maverick. Now, he’s faced with a choice: save the United States or his own posterior. During the campaign, he promised that he could separate the two, that his kids could run his empire, while he did the people’s business. But no one wants to talk to his progeny. They want him. They want the man in the suit who owes them money.