Inside Rove's Diary: Spinning the Web of Victory
Inside Rove's Diary: Spinning the Web of Victory
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
Finally a quiet moment to reflect on 2003. It was a momentous year for us, most of it good. We were able to move into Iraq without much domestic political objection -- only now are we taking heat for the way we bullbleeped our way into that war -- though the Frogs sure riled the waves abroad. (We made certain they paid the price later for their treachery.)
But damn Chalabi and his self-serving Iraqi exiles -- and Rummy&Cheney's neo-cons who believed them -- lying to us about how easy the post-war phase was going to be. Flowers and kisses, my ass! The Iraqis see us as conquering Occupiers, not Liberators, and our soldiers are ducks in a shooting gallery.
But by late-Spring/Summer, when the election campaign will be heating up and voters starting to pay closer attention to the race, we should have most of our original soldiers out of Iraq and back home with their families.
We'll do that by moving in fresh Reserves and Guard troops (and sending them on patrols outside Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle), plus we should be able to browbeat or bribe enough countries to send us some of their soldiers, to stand in for us in the danger zones. And we'll have more Iraqi police and even Iraqi special-army units active on the streets.
In short, if we work it right, it'll be foreigners who wind up getting killed every night, rather than American kids. And thus we will have neutralized the Iraq issue at home just enough to slide by on Election Day. Sometime after our electoral victory, if the situation is right, Rummy and Cheney and their neo-con friends can start doing what they really want to do in changing the culture of the Middle East: re-institute the military draft, send more troops back into Iraq for major fighting if they're needed, start leaning really heavily on Syria and Iran to effect democratic change or else, maybe start out by attacking in Lebanon or Somalia. Get that damn region under control.
Once those military actions start, it'll be rally-'round-the-flag time again, support the President, back the troops, get those terrorists, stirring photo-ops, and so on and so on. Americans never seem to get tired of the old patriotic rituals, bless their hearts. Those who object either can be ignored -- we're in for four more years; deal with it! -- or, if they get to be too effective, can be blacklisted or prosecuted under the good ol' Patriot Act, as amended.
Domestically last year, we were on pretty much of a roll moving our agenda through Congress, building up humongous deficits and debt that permits us to starve all sorts of social program without getting blamed for it -- "we need that money for the war against the terrorists" sort of thing.
The Dems in Congress are still totally confounded as to how to attack us, and are led by easily rolled wusses like Daschle, so no problem there. (Well, there are a few GOP "moderates" that sometimes stray off the reservation, but they never go too far; they like the power-goodies we can provide to the party faithful.)
So far so good for getting Bush2 back into the White House for another term. But getting past the November balloting isn't going to be as easy as we once thought. A few snags are surfacing that we didn't clearly notice at the time.
First, we've got to get the 9/11 and Plame-CIA leak investigations stretched out beyond Election Day -- or, if it can't do that, we need to get those boils lanced real soon. If the latter, we'll take some big immediate hits from the Democrat contenders and the liberal press, but the story will dissipate by the time voters are making up their minds in the Fall. War and terror can do that to your memory.
Damn, but I thought Kean's 9/11 commission would get the message and just skim through the data we wanted them to see -- not go after the good stuff that shows what we really knew. But they're taking a lot of heat from the victims' families, and are starting to want to see everything. All our stonewalling and roadblocking isn't really cutting it anymore. We've even been forced to let a few of them see the August 6 National Intelligence Estimate, and that presidential-briefing memo is explosive stuff, since it reveals how much the White House actually knew more than a month before the terrorist attacks. (And now the press is sniffing around the revelations that Iraq was in our crosshairs long before 9/11.)
We'll try to keep the lid on, maybe even give the commission a new deadline -- after the election, of course -- for their final report. But if it looks like the pressure-cooker's going to explode on this one, we'll just spin the revelations -- you know, like "the FBI never put the dots together" enough to give us "detailed" warnings, find some loyal aides to punish and throw overboard, pay them off with good jobs after the election.
As for the Plame case, I think we can ride that one out -- spinning that "nothing illegal really occurred," though it may have been bad judgement to speak to the reporters, etc. But, again, if it looks bad for us, better to take the hit now, and deflect the fire to lower-level aides. (We can pardon them later.) But I don't think it'll get that far. We'll Scoot by -- ha ha, good one, that.
I think we can survive Paul O'Neill's bombshell revelations -- he's just a "disgruntled former employee," "angry that he got fired," "he released classified information," etc. -- but it's all going to be rather ugly for a little while. These insider exposes are murder to spin -- and O'Neill was right at the heart of the Administration and has memos to back up his story --but spin we must. Maybe it's time to "Plame" O'Neill.
THE GLORY OF PERMANENT WAR
I wasn't sure that we'd be able to dodge the WMD bullet, but we made the half-time adjustment: Saddam had WMD "programs." Nobody seemed to notice or care that we had been claiming, before the war, that he actually had "weapons" -- and mostly it was only the partisan Dem candidates and a few internet wacko writers who took us on. They simply don't understand that the great majority of the American people don't mind being lied to, on WMD or any other issue, as long as those lies are couched in terms of the "war on terror."
Yep, the boy genius rides again. I told those namby-pambies in State and elsewhere that we had to learn from what happened to Bush#1: His popularity and re-elect numbers were way up while fighting the first Gulf War, but disappeared after Iraq's easy defeat when Americans could concentrate on how bad things were at home, especially with jobs and the economy.
The lesson was clear: Never end a war.
We learned that it's essential always to have an enemy to focus nationalistic hatred and fear on, and ours are "terrorists." (Corollary: You have to have domestic objects of scorn as well; in this campaign, the top boogymen will be gays who want to marry and minorities who overreach for their so-called "rights.")
Foreign Policy Lesson 2: Don't attack a nation-state per se, where victory is obvious and obtainable, rather go after something amorphous and open-ended, like "stamping out terrorism." Since there always will be bad guys killing U.S. troops somewhere, we stay in business; permanent war means that the American people always will be frightened enough to let us do what we want. We need to stay on message, keep drumbeating words like "liberation" and "freedom" and "democracy" and "terrorist." Works like a charm. We may not even need an October surprise.
Well, yes, constantly yanking the public's fright-chain with Ridge's color-coded chart eventually is going to grow old, and the voters may figure out that our using the "terror" scenario is, at least partially, an aspect of our psy-ops political campaign. But I'm convinced we have to worry about that only in the Blue states that the Dem candidate will carry anyway; we've still got the vast middle of the country scared to death every time we haul out the "T" word, and those Red states should be enough to get us over the Electoral College hump for a second term.
THE CAMPAIGN SCENE
Doesn't look like we'll be able to get all the precincts hooked up to computer-voting machines for the '04 election. The goddamn internet has kept this story on the boil -- showing how easy it is to fiddle with the computer-software to change the votes -- and thus has thrown a monkey wrench into the works. Memo to myself: Tell Ashcroft that after the election, he really needs to crack down on internet content -- "dangerous to the war effort," you know.
So the "special influence" of our corporate friends in the e-voting biz may well be out of play this time around, as key states are starting to postpone implementation of the computer-voting plan until the software problems can be dealt with. Oh well, we've got ways to keep the Dem vote down; memo to myself: Call Jeb.
As for the campaign, we're moving Bush out of doing anything negative in that regard -- we're building up his "presidential" gravitas; I loved our press release on manned missions to the moon and Mars, made the President seem really visionary -- and having all the attack ads, partisan comments and dirty tricks coming from "independent" GOP groups.
We're hitting Dean and Clark hard right now, since it looks like one of those two might be the candidate -- or together as the actual Dem ticket. That would be bad news for us, but we're working on hit pieces 24/7 and will decide later how and where to use them, if we even have to.
As we did for the run-up to the Iraq war, here we're pushing "invincibility" and "inevitability." Bush will win the election -- Christ, by summer, we'll have close to a quarter-billion dollars to spend! -- by repeating the "national security" mantra and the social/moral dangers posed by uppity gays and minorities. But, we have to keep remembering that even with all our Christian Right friends solidly supporting us and our hardball behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Gore beat Bush in the 2000 popular vote -- so this election is not a guaranteed lock either. Especially since the Dem contender (unlike Gore then and most of their Congressional counterparts now) aren't afraid of us and get right in our face.
Plus, we can't figure out what to do to stimulate the employment-market before the election; 3,000,000 is a lot of jobs lost since we came into power and that issue, tied in with the massive outsourcing of white-collar jobs abroad, hurts us real bad. If we have to, we'll consider manufacturing some government-sponsored make-work employment before the election, to defuse the issue. Well, sure it's FDR-like and will sell out our conservative philosophy, but we've already done a lot of pre-election bending with Medicare drugs, immigration braceros and the like, so one more transgression won't hurt. In politics, you have to do what you have to do.
As I keep telling the neo-cons, the only goal is to win in November. Stealth-campaigning worked for us before: Just pull in your horns and act nice for awhile. Once victory is achieved, we can revert to our original programs whenever we want, and nobody will be able to do a damn thing about it, here or around the world. Oh, but I do love democracy!
To read Bernard Weiner's satirical peeks into other diaries -- including those of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Bush, Osama, Saddam and others -- visit The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm), which he co-edits.