Norman Oppenheimer lives a lonely life in the margins of New York City power and money, a would-be operator dreaming up financial schemes that never come to fruition. As he has nothing real to offer, Norman strives to be everyone's friend, but his incessant networking leads him nowhere.
Always on the lookout for someone willing to pay attention to him, Norman sets his sights on Micha Eshel, a charismatic Israeli politician alone in New York at a low point in his career. Sensing Eshel's vulnerability, Norman reaches out with a gift of a very expensive pair of shoes, a gesture that deeply touches Eshel. When Eshel becomes Prime Minister three years later, he remembers.
With his very real connection to the leader of a major nation, Norman is awash in the respect he has always craved. Flush with his newfound feeling of success, Norman attempts to use Eshel's name to leverage his biggest deal ever: a series of quid pro quo transactions linking the Prime Minister to Norman's nephew, a rabbi, a mogul, his assistant, and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. Norman's kaleidoscopic plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe he must struggle to prevent.