This story begins on 4 July 2076. The United States itself is no longer a sovereign country, but part of a Global Federation. The story details the speech of the 75th president, Hugo Allen Winkler, who is described by Secret Service agent Lawrence Edwards as a "vote-grabber, a promiser" who has failed to get anything done during his first term in office. The president is walking near the Washington Monument, and suddenly disappears. He reappears very shortly afterwards on a guarded stage and gives a stirring speech which is quite different from the kind he usually makes. Two years after that occurrence, Edwards talks to a government official named Janek, to whom he describes a possible murder weapon, a disintegrator. Edwards explains that a robot double of the president exists as a security measure, and then correctly surmises that it was not the robot double who had died, but the president himself. The robot had then taken office.