Shallow Throat Advises Democrats to Bring It On
"Shallow Throat" Advises Democrats to Bring It On Big-Time
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
With the Bush Administration in imploding disarray, frantically scrambling for ways out of its WMD scandal, I set the code for alerting "Shallow Throat" that I wanted to talk. I was anxious to learn, from inside the belly of the beast, how bad the situation was for the Bush forces and what we in the opposition could do to make it worse. (The former, high-ranking Republican mole in the White House* had moved on to another government agency, but still had friends on the inside.)
Shallow Throat appeared for our rendezvous, at a park bench in a D.C. suburb, wearing a wig, wide-brimmed hat and wraparound dark glasses that I hadn't seen before. We ate our deli sandwiches while we chatted.
"You've certainly got their knickers in a twist," said ST, with a huge grin. "What's happened is that the patina of invincibility has suddenly disappeared from Rove and his minions. Everyone in the White House realizes they've bungled this one badly, and they're struggling for how to play it to lessen the political fallout. And so we all get to watch the laughable farce as a new line is trotted out each day, to see what will work best. So far, nothing has worked at all -- Bush is psychologically incapable of accepting responsibility, for anything, so now the Dems are sharpening their knives.
"Oh, much of the larger public seems almost as confused and apathetic as always -- although the public-opinion polls are beginning to show a slide for Bush in believability and support for the Iraq war -- but that's not the class that counts in this town. There's blood in the water, and the political and media sharks are circling. With their arrogant self-righteousness, the Bushies have made a lot of enemies in two-plus years -- including among my traditional conservative friends -- and, if the Bush juggernaut continues to be seriously weakened, it's going to be payback time. So tell your friends to keep bringing it on; the assault is working: The Bush Administration is finally having to use a good share of its energies and time on defense instead of being able to focus totally on offense."
"I'd guess," I offerred, "that the Administration's biggest blunder to date was to try to dump all the WMD scandal blame onto the CIA."
"The spooks in Langley are not appreciative of that sort of political gamesmanship, and they are masters of the controlled leak, and so all sorts of other Bush Administration skullduggery is starting to, or is about to, surface -- in much the same way as a 'third-rate burglary' at the Watergate Apartments led to the real, under-the-rock slime of the Nixon Administration. You don't want to get the CIA ticked off; unlike many of your liberal friends, the spooks know how to play for keeps, and they enjoy the sport.
"But it's a larger issue, and here's where the Bush people are so vulnerable. Given that their bullyboy, in-your-face attitude had worked so well, in their hubris they really thought they could do and say anything and get away with it forever. So they told all sorts of whoppers about why Iraq supposedly was an 'imminent' danger to the U.S., and grossly manipulated non-existent facts to generate pro-war hysteria in time to meet the go-date for the bombing and invasion -- which, of course, had been set a half-year before. All of that was so blatant and obvious, it was no wonder millions of protesters took to the streets, and the European leaders and the U.N. would have nothing to do with the Bush Administration and even shouted at them in public."
"But," I said, "even though the Bushies always had gotten away with such behavior before, didn't they suspect that they might not get away with it this time, given the stakes involved?"
"The short answer is no. For people like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Perle and so on -- the true-believer zealots -- they'd been on such an unimpeded roll for so long, and with the conglomerate-owned mass-media covering their butts for them, why should it ever end? Oh, a few were aware that the approach was risky -- Colin Powell, for one, knew there was too much 'bullshit' intelligence, his word not mine, being passed off as fact -- but figured that after the invasion, the military might just find a whole lot of WMD to justify the war, and make the lies moot.
"But nothing was found, zilch, nada. Even the two trailers, which they claimed were proof of nefarious preparations for bio-chem warfare, turned out to be British-sold vehicles for making weather-balloon gas. And the stuff buried in the nuclear scientist's garden 12 years ago just confirmed that there was no serious atomic development in the works.
"Now, just in case some actual or planted WMD turns up in Iraq, it's vital that your Democrat and internet-writer friends need to quit focusing only on those offending 16 words and to move on to the larger point: Nothing that has been found to date, and probably nothing that will be found, lends any credence to the Bush theory -- elaborated in speech after speech for months before the State of the Union address -- that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. or U.K. or their neighbors. Simply wasn't true.
"But there were Bush and Blair ranting about the necessity to act immediately because Iraq could activate its bio-chemical attack weapons in 45 minutes and have drone airplanes drop nuclear devices on the U.S. mainland. And the supposedly 'close' ties between al-Qaida and Iraq. It was ALL 'bullshit'! And they knew it, just as the Bush inner circle knew al-Qaida was coming by planes to America in the Fall of 2001 and did nothing."
"You think Bush and Cheney and the rest are vulnerable to impeachment?" I asked.
"It all depends on whether the Democrats and the press and the whisleblowers keep the pressure on, keep releasing new juicy tidbits of Bush Administration skullduggery. The GOP, at least the more rabid elements, are circling the wagons around the White House, hoping to cut off the attacks. You'll know the real answer to your question when more Republican moderates, and then elements of the leadership, start backing away and seek a meeting with Bush about the matter."
"You mean," I asked, "seek his resignation before the impeachment stuff hits the fan?"
"Whoa, boy! We're nowhere near there yet. As I say, it depends on a great number of factors: Whether Blair is forced to resign, for example; whether the media keeps digging for more Bush and Cheney dirt; whether the whisteblowers inside and outside the Agency keep the embarrassing revelations coming, etc."
"But what if it continues to get worse and worser for the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle cabal?"
Shallow Throat took a long swig of Snapple. "It's like Watergate, in a way. Nixon was trapped, it was obvious to all that he was going down, but he refused to resign until the impeachment train was in the station, and it was then that the GOP leaders abandoned him and sought a meeting. These Bush guys are not going to leave until impeachment is staring them in the face -- and, even then, they're desperate and greedy enough to be capable of anything, including trying to impose martial law on the country and ruling from the bunkers, postponing the 2004 election, whatever.
"But my guess is that it will never come to that. The forces that support the Bush extremists -- the GOP power-holders, the giant corporations, the think-tank founders, the big-money guys, et al. -- will figure at some point that it's damage-control time and they'd better have a back-up plan in order to continue their program, and to continue their powerful role in making that program's policy. They'll find someone who knows how to massage the system rather than wring its neck, who more subtly can get them what they want."
"And what about Cheney?"
"Tenet probably will have to resign, now that he loyally fell on his sword to take the blame away from Cheney and Bush and Rice and Rumsfeld. But Cheney is expendable, too, if it comes to it. Cheney might just have another heart 'episode,' and, for 'health reasons,' he could resign. But don't look for that to happen overnight, or at all. These guys are ruthless survivors. Cheney will leave, if he does, so that the program can continue -- just like Lyndon Johnson chose not to run again, so the Vietnam War could continue.
"And, by the way, the Bush people are incompetents -- but that's another story."
"Don't just teasingly drop that in. I want to hear that story," I said.
"They're so locked into their ideological box that they don't receive the more complex, real-world information they need to make wise decisions. The White House aides follow their boss in their lack of curiosity about the world outside their little fiefdoms. Don't bother them with facts, their minds are made up, that sort of thing.
"So, for example, they ignored what actually was happenng inside Iraq and listened mostly to what the Iraqi exile leaders were telling them -- basically whatever they figured the Bushies wanted to hear -- and assumed it would all go down like Chalabi and his followers said. The result was that there were no firm plans for an occupation by arms after Saddam was defeated, since everyone would want to cooperate with the Americans, after first kissing their feet and throwing rose petals on their heads.
"And now these exiles, many of whom haven't the foggiest notion what's really happening inside the country, dominate the new Governing Council of Iraq. And the Americans are surprised that a great many Iraqis consider these Council members to be collaborators with the Americans. Every member was appointed by the occupying power -- terrified to permit Iraqis to vote for their own interim government.
"You can smell Vietnam all over Iraq. The U.S., too stupid and stubborn to admit it's made a bad mistake, not really understanding the layers of the culture in which they find themselves, is going to be bogged down there forever, fighting Iraqi guerrillas and calling for yes another 50,000 and then another 100,000 troops but we're winning the hearts and minds of the natives don't worry the boys will be home by Christmas now don't that sound familiar?"
"But they claim they're getting a number of nations to come help them out, so that the American troops can head back home?"
Shallow Throat gave me a look like I was a total dumbbell, then said: "Look, my friend. Before the war started, the Bush Administration humiliated and bullied countries that should have been, and could have been, their allies in the first place. But that would have meant sharing some power, and the Project for the New American Century ideologues that control military policy in the Bush Administration, who drew up the Iraq war doctrine and the strategy for 'benevolent global hegemony' -- yep, they really called it that -- could not permit any other country or international body to have a piece of the action.
"The unilateral cowboys went off and had their nice, quick little war, but now are paying a huge price in blood and treasure, and want the countries they'd insulted to come help them play occupier and hegemonist. No wonder few are signing up voluntarily, and almost nobody is sending large contingents of troops.
"Let's see which countries placate the Giant Elephant by sending a few troops, and which countries, like France and India, politely tell the U.S. to take a long walk on a short pier. And now that Bush and Blair are in the hot seat because of their gross lies to bamboozle their citizenry into supporting an unnecessary war, you can imagine that many countries will feel more emboldened to refuse the U.S. request for peacekeeping troops."
"I'm getting the distinct impression," I said, "that maybe you don't really like the Bush folks."
"If it weren't so tragic, it WOULD be funny," said ST. "But the consequences of their incompetency mixed with their ideological fanaticism are abolutely tragic. Death and destruction on massive scales for -- what? So that the world's only Superpower can swagger around the globe like a coked-out macho-man, thirsty for more oil, more power, more control, more of everything.? It's madness, and does long-term damage to America, creating a fertile field for terrorism to grow."
"Do you think that Bush&Co. can be defeated in 2004?"
"Sure, given some givens: That the 9/11 and WMD coverups continue to unravel. That the economy continues to tank as the deficits keep climbing to astronomical heights. That as popular social programs get cut (Head Start, Medicare, Social Security, pollution controls, etc.), and states keep going broke, with no funds to fix the bridges and the roads and the schools. That the American people grow tired of permanent war and body bags being shipped home. That someone discovers how to make the computer-voting software tamperproof and with verifiable paper trails. And on and on.
"The short answer is yes, because the Rove in-your-face approach works only as long as people are afraid of you; when they stand up and tell you to go to hell, the foundations holding up that deck of cards will topple and down will come baby, cradle and all. If they haven't resigned or been impeached by November of 2004, the Bush forces may well lose the election, provided, of course, that the Democrats put up someone who isn't afraid to speak truth to power but who also is able to mobilize not only the activist Democratic base but also can reach out to middle-class, middle-of-the-road type voters.
"If my Republican conservative friends and colleagues are examples -- just itching to feel secure but not with reckless crazies in charge -- the Democrat could win a fair election."
"Any final thoughts to pass on?" I asked.
"Just this: Like most bullies, the Bushies are insecure. Confront them with the facts, put them on the defensive, keep attacking their weak spots, don't let up, bring it on. You can win. And when you win, we all win -- the country, the nervous world, the Constitution. Now get to work."
And with that, Shallow Throat, from 10 feet out, flung a half-eaten sandwich into the dustbin, grinned, pulled the hat down, and sauntered out of the park. I found myself smiling, for the first time in a long time.
- Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco Chronicle's theater critic for 16 years, and now co-edits the progressive political website The Crisis Papers ( http://www.crisispapers.org).
*For other conversations with the Shallow Throat character, go to: http://www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm