Mayor Tom Hannigan's Chief of Staff Caitlyn Beckman entered his office with an annoyed look on her face.
"What now?" Hannigan asked when he saw how flustered Caitlyn appeared to be.
Caitlyn Beckman was among the first to join Hannigan's campaign and she quickly promoted up to Campaign Manager before accepting the Chief of Staff position when Hannigan won election as Greenville's Mayor.
Caitlyn was a smart professional, organized and structured in her approach to the job, a dedicated and loyal advisor to her boss. She was wearing an attractive pantsuit and she paid particular attention to her appearance – her auburn hair was professionally styled, her fingernails manicured, and her make up carefully applied.
"The Lily Ellis problem just won't go away," Caitlyn complained as she fell into the seat across from his desk.
"I told you from the start she wouldn't accept my apology," Hannigan reminded his Chief from where he sat in his chair.
"She says it's tone-deaf and insincere," Caitlyn reported. "And her online groupies continue to fan the flames."
"That's what they do," the Mayor sighed, sitting back in his fancy leather desk chair and staring at his second in command.
"Maybe we should revise it," Caitlyn suggested.
"No way," Hannigan replied. "It's too late to get out in front of this and I'm not going to keep appeasing her and her followers."
"Then it will continue to fester," Caitlyn warned.
"Listen, Lily's Concerned Citizens of Greenville page might as well be Concerned Whining White People Citizens of Greenville," Hannigan growled. "There's no satisfying them no matter what I say or do."
"That's probably true," Caitlyn agreed. "But doesn't this situation make you at least a little nervous?"
"We have more pressing concerns than a bunch of on-line trolls wasting their time and energy criticizing us," Hannigan insisted.
"They're painting you as a hypocritical fraud," Caitlyn said.
"So what's your advice on how to best handle the situation?" The Mayor asked.
"You never should have called her a fat twat in the first place," she sighed.
"It was a hot mic," Hannigan said defensively. "It wasn't meant to be heard."
"But it was," Caitlyn replied. "And we've been in damage control ever since."
"It'll blow over," The Mayor predicted.
"I don't think so," Caitlyn worried. "Nice guys in positions of power and stature with reputations of being progressive and compassionate don't call the opposition fat twats."
"I imagine those who aren't on Lily's page have already moved on," Hannigan argued.
"A more specific apology might help," Caitlyn said.
Hannigan frowned while opening a file on his desk computer. "I sincerely apologize to Lily Ellis and all those who were offended by my gratuitous off the record insult made in the moment of annoyance and anger. I recognize that it was a rude and sexist tasteless derogatory remark that has no place in the public arena and reflects poorly on my office and my character," he read from the screen before glancing at his Chief of Staff. "What more do they want me to say?"
"Some are still calling for your resignation," Caitlyn informed him.
"That's ridiculous," Hannigan said with a wave of his hand. "Political grandstanding."
"What are you going to do?" Caitlyn asked.
"Well," he replied, "I'm not going to apologize again."
"You might not really have much of a choice," Caitlyn advised.
"They're just out for blood," he complained.
"Are you sorry for what you said?"
"Of course," Hannigan insisted. "It was uncalled for, unnecessary, and horrible."
"Even some of your own supporters were offended," Caitlyn reminded him.
"And I'm sorry people were offended," The Major stated.
"Not sure if that's enough," Caitlyn frowned.
"What else is there?"
"Remorse," Caitlyn told him. "Amends."
"I have nothing but remorse and regret," The Mayor told her. "But I'm not going to beg for forgiveness. If people can't accept my apology, that's on them, not me."
"You understand that what you said was wrong?"
"And you're being honest."
"Is this the hill you want to die on?" Caitlyn asked. "With all your programs, policies, and initiatives in the works? With all the successes we've had so far? Is this really the hill you're willing to stake everything on? Over a refusal to apologize again?"
"The horse is already out of the barn," The Mayor said. "We can chase it all day and it won't make any difference."
"It can't hurt to try," Caitlyn argued.
"It will never be enough for Lily and her ilk," Hannigan said. "And the cake has already been baked. They've already made up their minds about me. They're blowing smoke about all the morality stuff. I've already admitted I did something wrong. They're out for my hide now."
"Maybe you should try to share your side of the story," Caitlyn said. "How Lily and her followers have been cruel, insulting, personal, and full of shit about you and that's why you said what you did, inappropriate as it was."
"I'll just come across as the same sort of whiners they are," Hannigan replied. "People either believe me or they don't. We're supposed to have thick skins in this job. Criticism comes with the territory."
"So, what are you going to do?" She challenged. "Nothing?"
"You know me well," The Mayor smiled.
"Well, it's your career," Caitlyn shrugged. "Your re-election."
"It's all so nuanced," Hannigan said. "Lily is never going to let it go or move on whether I apologize again or not."
"I left a pretty good job for this," Caitlyn sighed. "I didn't think it would be one and out."
"I have more faith in the voters of Greenville," Hannigan said. "I think people are forgiving if they believe you're sincere."
"Not if Lily and her groupies don't let them forget," Caitlyn warned. "She likes being the fat twat if it gets her hits on her page."
"Politics is a blood sport," The Mayor remarked. "Lily knows that."
"You're the youngest person ever elected to this office," Caitlyn said as she stood. "Our administration was supposed to be a change agent, new and bold, exciting and fresh, responsive and interactive, and here we are dealing with the same old stupid bullshit all over again."
"It's going to be okay," Hannigan reassured her. "Don't lose your spunk and enthusiasm. Lily Ellis is not going to be our downfall. The nay-sayers can bitch and post crap all they want. It doesn't change who we are."
"I hope you're right," Caitlyn sighed as she headed for the door. She stopped and turned to face her boss. "But Lily really is a fat twat, isn't she?"
Mayor Hannigan didn't say anything as his perturbed Chief of Staff left his office.