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I appreciate the mention, but I'm sorry to say I have to withdraw my name from contention this year.

And so it ends. With barely a whimper. Before it even got off the ground. A candidate *suddenly* and "unexpectedly" withdraws his name from consideration. One might even contend, a "front runner." Just gonna walk away. "Thanks, but no thanks... you know... deference to others more worthy...."


Do you smell that? No... not that, but the other smell blowing in from the Atlantic Coast. Might be rotting cod... or not. Yes, I know it's hard to smell given the other thing, but the other thing should diffuse rather rapidly, and then we'll all be left with the odor to which I wish to direct your attention. Here... I'll open the window and use this manilla folder marked "Roark" to clear the room.

There. Now can you smell it?! Yes... that definitely is the stench of hidden scandal lurking just below the surface. A secret so sick, twisted and perverse that it would serve as a Robe of Many Colors, placing to shame an amalgam of all prior scandals sewn together like cheap hobo rags.

He'll deny it. So will his phalanx of spokespersons and his advisers. Oh surely they will, but that alone serves as proof-positive that "Howardgate" is just itching to burst forth and add itself to the Lexicon of Ignominy, and crown itself King, or Queen, or Raj, or Sultan, or Chief Raelian Cloner.

Because it's never been clear just whose bidding he does.

Yes... we only now possess bits of the overall puzzle: accusations of bondage and automobile trunks, clubs of ill-repute, some perverse affair with someone else's sister, and heavies with names like "Hammer" and "Coralville" (where the fishies sleep). And the public esoteric numerological obfuscation.

That's just the stuff that a shoddy search engine can dredge up... but there's also the quieter stuff that people of a certain class mention between bites of an olive at Power Cocktail Parties... in DC, New York, Freiburg. Really horrible & dreadful stuff during the Renaissance Weekend... Howard & Henry & Hillary, and a film crew. Perhaps the film fell into the wrong hands, eh Mr. Roark? Into the hands of someone munching gin-soaked olives backing a different pony?

Oh sure: the Goofyhoofy/MR/RJ/AOL smokescreen is good. No one ever denied that you're good. Oh yes... you're very, very, very good, Mr. Roark: tossing so much virtual and community dust into the air.

Some of us out here, however, are not buying it.

Good reporters won't stop digging for the real answers, and the chattering class from pondering the question, "Why?" And Justice and History conspire to out the Truth... if but eventually.

And when they out that Truth, you can rest assured, I will remind all that this "withdrawal," in the name of vague principles and the feelings of other's mothers, was a sham. Just more mirrors and curtains.

Not so easy this time, Mr. Charmed Existence. Not so fast this time, Mr. Ideal Candidate. We'll unhinge the jaws of those who know.

In due time,

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