Shallow Throat: How to Take Bush Downnnnnnnn
"Shallow Throat" Returns to Tell Dems How to Take Bush Downnnnnnnn
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
Appalled at the damage being done by the HardRight ideologues who had hijacked the GOP, "Shallow Throat" -- the highly-located mole in the Bush Administration, who revealed secrets from behind the White House curtain -- had had enough and had moved to elsewhere in the government.[*]
I was curious as I drove out to the suburban picnic spot Shallow Throat had chosen outside the Beltway. Why had my inside source called for a meeting?
It didn't take long to find out. We sat in the shade under a large oak. Shallow Throat, wearing dark glasses and a wig I hadn't seen before, launched into a frenzied monologue two seconds after we started munching the deli sandwiches I'd brought with me.
"I can't believe what your Democrat friends are doing. Here you have an authoritarian regime, doing great damage to our constitutional form of government, doing even more damage to an already weakened economy, rampaging around the world attacking and threatening governments, doing and saying things that are enraging entire areas of the world against the U.S., insulting and humilitating our longterm allies, weakening all international institutions, cutting back on all sorts of valuable social programs, attacking environmental protections, appointing ideologue judges who will OK everything the Bushies do, controlling the conglomerate press. In short, you've got a regime in power that is endangering U.S. interests abroad and engaged in ruinous policies at home, and your Democrat buddies behave as enablers."
"Now wait a minute," I interjected. "I too abhor the cowardice of the Democrat leaders, but you forgot to mention that they are in the minority in Congress, and have very little power to do anything."
"That's true in terms of numbers," said Shallow Throat, "but -- even ignoring the alliances that can be made with moderate Republicans -- by not even trying to mount a righteous, tenacious, vocal opposition, the Democrats further empower the worst policies and tendencies of the Bush Administration. And, worst of all, by not performing as a true opposition, they give the impression to the citizenry at large that the Bush policies have the Democrats' OK and that they, and the people behind those policies, are not dangerous enough to bother opposing."
"But you know," I replied, "that you can use up all your political capital and credibility if you oppose everything. You just look like sore losers and obstructionists."
"So take them on, big time, on just the major items: filibuster their nominees for judgeships, criticize straight-up their foreign and war policies, really fight to save the environment, denounce their self-serving economic policies--"
"But the Democrats are doing that," I interrupted. "In each of those areas, some have spoken up and--"
"But not in any major, consistent, loud way. Daschle is such a go-along-to-get-along disaster that he's barely heard; Pelosi makes her obligatory objections but doesn't really mount a campaign. The presidential hopefuls make loud noises, but only on specific focus-group-tested issues and they can be dismissed easily as 'partisan politicians,' trying out campaign themes. No, what I'm talking about, what's needed, is something akin to the British practice of having a 'shadow government' in place, with Democrat 'Cabinet ministers,' as it were, issuing well-reasoned, strong objections and policy alternatives."
"In case you haven't noticed," I countered, "you're not in jolly ol' right now. You're in 'Murica, and we don't have disciplined parties, certainly not a disciplined opposition party. We Democrats need a leader to rally around and there ain't one, yet."
"If that's the only thing that will put some straighten-up in your spines, then you bloody well better find that leader, and soon. I run across more ideas and leadership every day in pieces written on the internet."
"Couldn't agree more," I said. "So let's look at the Democrats. They have nine potential candidates for the nomination, if you rule out a draft-Gore movement. How do those nine strike you? Which ones could take Bush down?"
"Look," said Shallow Throat, "if it was a traditional GOP candidate the Democrat was running against, as a lifelong Republican I'd vote for the GOP candidate. But since our party got kidnapped by the ultras and zealots, and since they're driving our country to ruin, I'd probably support any of those nine, and work my ass off to see that he or she got elected. But, OK, since you ask, here's my assessment:
"Bush is so weak on the issues, so ignorantly bogged down abroad, so obviously tied to his wealthy supporters, so enmeshed in scandals -- not the least of which is withholding information from the 9/11 Commission, so they won't have all the facts at their command to make a definitive judgement by their deadline -- that any decent candidate could take him down. But the key word is 'decent,' which means 'electable'."
"You can eliminate Sharpton, Mosely-Braun and Kucinich from the list. They're simply not electable in this conservative climate: too far to the left. Lieberman and Gephardt are probably too far to the right, especially for the activist Dems who vote in the primaries. Graham is probably too locked in the middle, and has the charisma of a cabbage -- even though, as the former head of the Senate Intelligence Committe, he has some amazing facts about pre-9/11 events that could blow Bush out of the water.
"You need someone who will play well to the activist base -- or at least be tolerated by them -- but can reach out to the moderates and centrists that will determine the election. That means Dean, Edwards, Kerry.
"I think one of those three could be the one to stick it to Bush -- IF, and this is a big IF, all factions of the Democrat party are willing to unite behind him and work to elect him, even with whatever major disagreements they may have with the nominee. If and when that happens, the momentum will build quickly in creating a true oppositional force, and Rove, with the economy still in the doldrums, will start quaking in his pants, getting even more desperate and dirty."
"But," I asked, "you're not going to tell me which one would be the strongest?"
"You're missing the point, my friend. For one, it's a bit early; let's see how each handles himself in the coming months. But the issue isn't one of personality. The issue is: find someone credible and electable to rally around. Your, our, only chance to break the momentum of the HardRight thugs in power, and to begin to fix the damage domestically and internationally wrought by this administration, is to defeat Bush in 2004. If that means holding my nose and voting for a Democrat who might not be all that I wish him to be, I'll do it. I'll even lick envelopes and canvass for the nominee and send in money. That's how serious I am. Of course, I'll wear my wig, so I can still keep my government job."
"And what happens," I asked, "if that Democrat candidate loses, or if the computer-voting programs are tweaked in enough key states to hand the Electoral College victory to Bush?"
"You're not as dumb as you look," said Shallow Throat with a hearty laugh. "T he ONLY chance you have to avoid vote-tampering, given the current state of computer technology, is to have each and every election department use paper ballots. Then, even though the TV networks will go ballistic, those ballots would be hand-counted, with Democrat and Republican monitors behind every table where the votes are being tabulated.
"Unless you return to paper ballots -- and pressure to get exit-polling back -- you'll be at the mercy of those three companies, all Republican supporters, that control the programming of all the computer-voting machines in America. Look what happened in key states in the 2002 election where the Democrats either were ahead or dead-even in the polls going into the election and then, mysteriously, emerged losers when the computer counted the votes, with no exit-polling or paper trail to check against. I'm not saying that's what happened, but I put nothing past Rove & Co. when it comes to playing dirty pool. He may even give the go-ahead for a move on Syria or Iran, so th at the U.S. is engaged in another 'patriotic' war at election time -- or maybe al-Qaida will launch another massive terrorist attack on the U.S. at the right moment."
"You've ignored the first part of my question. What if, even with all the negatives facing Bush and his policies, the Democrat candidate loses? How bad will it be?"
"You don't really want to know. My contacts inside the White House tell me that given another term, Bush and his far-right buddies will make the past couple of years look like a political tea party. It will be so awful, for everyone, in America and around the world, that the whole house of cards likely will come tumbling down. But, what I'm trying to tell you is: If you all fasten on a candidate soon and give him all the support that's required -- and get to work on election-machine reform now -- you'll win. The American people are easily scared and easily fooled, but only for awhile. They're wary and frightened of Bush's aventurism abroad, and they're closer to Democrat positions domestically."
"But Rove already has figured out how Bush wins," I said. "The recipe is more fear, more patriotic imagery (that flyer-suit PR job on the aircraft carrier was a harbinger), more reminders about 9/11 and terrorism, more permanent war, more religious iconography. It's worked so far, so he's on solid ground thinking it'll work again."
"Listen," said Shallow Throat, "there's 40% of the country that's likely to support Bush no matter what he says or does -- hard-rock conservatives, fundamentalist Christians, big business, covert racists, et al. -- and there's 40% solid against Bush (if you get them out to vote): Democrats, labor, African-Americans, women, the peace movement, Hispanics, Jews. But the middle 20% is pretty independent-minded and therefore is open to reason. What they see is an Administration incompetent with regard to the economy and to the rest of the world, following hare-brained logic, putting Americans at great risk by virtue of their extreme policies. They'll listen to a reasona ble, tough, popular Democrat candidate, especially one who turns it into a real horse-race and who has the guts to speak the truth."
"I know you've heard this before, but why don't you become a Democrat and run yourself? Go ahead and give me a preview of what you'd say, what you think Mr. Democrat Nominee should say."
"An intriguing idea, to be sure, but I value my life, thank you very much. But, sure, I'll play the scene. Here, off the top of my picnic-brained head, is my brief stump speech:
"I was there in the White House for two years, watching these guys work. Let me tell you that they are not nice people, they are not good people, they think only of power and control and how to get more of it, they don't give a fig for ordinary citizens, they are beholden to their greed and their fat-cat buddies, they don't have any curiosity for ideas, they loathe the American people because they can manipulate them so easily, their whole philosophy can be summed up by grab and get and take, they are mean-spirited in almost all ways and vicious when crossed, they tell one outrageous lie after another and are amused and sometimes amazed that hardly anybody in the mainstream media ever calls them on this, they are arrogant bullies and think that will always get them what they want, and, deep down, they know that their time in power is growing shorter and that's why they're so desperate and angry.
"I promise I will treat you with respect, will have America deal with the world as the first among equals instead of as a rampaging superpower, I will genuinely care about ordinary working people and families and will make fixing the economy my primary objective, I will return hope and caring and warmth to our country, I will fight terrorism and terrorists but without ripping apart the Constitution to do so, I will care for our fragile environment, I will appoint respecters of the law and not advocates for a cause, I will spend all the time and energy required to bring about a just peace in the Middle East, I will devote much of my term to our young people and their education...well, you get the picture." Shallow Throat was smiling, almost laughing.
My mouth hung open. "I'd vote for you," I stammered.
A giggle from Shallow Throat. "Right. But I'm not running. My advice still stands: Settle on a candidate soon, and start those wheels turning. You're going to have to build up a lot of steam and power to deal with these guys, who've spent at least 10-20 years working to get where they are. They aren't going to go easy. But you liberals are finally going to have to realize that you have to fight, really fight, if you want to restore civility and peace and justice and kindness to your politics. It's not going to be easy -- these are mean, vicious graspers we're talking about here -- but, if you unite and pour your energies and love for our country into the campaign, and get your own media machine going, you can do it. Now go do it."#
* See "Shallow Throat": Bush & Co. Arrogance Will Lead to Their Undoing; also see earlier "Shallow Throat" Savages Dem Leaders and Reveals Bush Strategy, "Shallow Throat" Reveals Bush & Co.'s Weak Spots, and The "Shallow Throat" Documents: A Pre-9/11 Scenario.
Weiner, a playwright and poet, was a writer/editor with the
San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years; he now
co-edits The Crisis Papers (
http://www.crisispapers.org). A Ph.D. in government &
international relations, he has taught at various
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years; he now co-edits The Crisis Papers ( http://www.crisispapers.org). A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at various universities.