Bush's Diary: The Sucking Sound of Quicksand
July 18, 2002
By Bernard Weiner
The last time I wrote at length in my journal, in January,
the first of the business debacles was just starting to unfold.
Bush's Diary: Bobbin' & Weavin' Over Enron."] Course,
I had to tell a major whopper -- that I didn't know Kenny
Boy all that well -- but there wasn't a lot of damage and
the story basically fell by the wayside. Especially once we
ratcheted up the War-on-Terror and patriotic themes.
But, my lordy, things are a bit different today. The stuff
has hit the fan, and our administration is covered in huge
chunks of it. It's like we're being sucked into quicksand
and can't seem to escape, no matter how much we bob and weave.
And the damn media -- the media that's kept silent and supportive
up til now -- is starting to resemble the circling sharks
of old. They smell blood in the water, my blood, our blood.
Even calling in our markers to the publishers isn't working
as well as it once did.
If it was just me and the Harken thing, I probably could
ride out all the accusations. After all, the SEC cleared me
after a thorough investigation. Well, that ain't true: they
never even asked to interview me, and they merely said they
wouldn't prosecute -- thanks, Poppy! -- and would keep the
matter open for possible future looks.
Even with that, though, I think I could still get through
this one, with not too much damage. No, what's creating the
quicksand danger is that Cheney is getting suctioned under
as well -- he's in REAL trouble, and all his stonewalling
isn't going to save him this time -- and Tom White, the Army
secretary, is covered in Enron slime and needs to go. Cheney,
it looks like, is going to be my Agnew: not only because he's
hiding the Enron papers but because he's getting caught with
his fingers in the cookie jar of corporate funny accounting,
with Halliburton. Might work in another time, but not now,
with the American people angry at greedy corporate financial
(If Dick has to go -- we'll make sure he resigns because
of "health reasons," his weak heart and all -- I'm thinking
of appointing Condy. That should silence all the critics:
a black WOMAN! It makes me salivate, just thinking about the
damn liberals trying to attack me on that one. Of course,
I could really fry their brains if I appointed Colin, hee
hee hee. But as much as I like a good prank, I wouldn't do
it. I can't stand the guy, with all his moralizing and questioning.
I don't trust him, not now and certainly not in 2004.)
And the guys we've picked to head off the scandal investigations,
Harvey Pitt and Larry Thompson, are neck-deep in the conflict-of-interest
quicksand as well. This is not fair. How were we to know that
the common practices of the day in '90s corporate America
would suddenly look so dirty in 2002, and come back to haunt
I don't know what I'm supposed to do -- what, appoint Ralph
Nader to investigate us? There just aren't that many non-corporate
types in my Administration. If one's dirty, they all are going
to look dirty. And I certainly can't agree to an objective
outside investigator. And CERTAINLY NOT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR!!!!!
Ashcroft could try to get a friendly one appointed, but, given
our luck lately, we might just wind up with a liberal or an
ambitio us Ken Starr-like bulldog, anxious to make his mark,
and we'd all be in deep doodoo.
No, we're just going to turn the spin cycle to high. We'll
try the "don't attack the President and his Administration
in the middle of a war" routine, but not a hell of a lot of
folks are buying that one these days -- especially since the
Congress hasn't declared war. The stench on the street is
so overwhelming, the public wants someone to pay. All those
poor seniors out there, angry because their pensions are flaking
away as the markets tank.
I did my part. I read a speech denouncing corporate fraud
and greed, but of course I made sure there were no harsh prescriptions,
no major reforms, or we'd lose totally the backing of our
business friends. Unfortunately, the Democrats are saying
I'm just mouthing words, with no criminal penalties to back
up the rhetoric. I may have to throw someone overboard. I'll
try to protect Kenny Boy as long as I can -- he knows where
too many of the bodies are buried, and besides, he's been
good to me over the years -- but, if the worst happens, he
may have to go. I can always pardon him later.
In the meantime, we move on other fronts. We're getting our
TIPS program ready, where we're involving the American people
in denouncing their friends and neighbors if they suspect
terroristconnections or sympathies. One out of 24 citizens
to start with, coming to a neighborhood near you. Sure, there
will be folks settling old scores, and the FBI will have to
waste a good deal of time, but the key point is that the public
will be out there working for the Administration, even if
they don't realize it. (Whatever else you can say about them,
the Cuban and Soviet governments knew how to have a spy on
every block, working for the central government. It worked
for them, it can work for us. A win-win: We may just get tipped
off about a terrorist, plus it'll be like having election-committeemen
in every congressional district in America.)
And, where it counts, it's like we're waiting for Godot:
for the other bin Laden shoe to drop. In the short run, with
all the damage and disruption, the coming al-Qaeda attacks
will help us, of course, as every media outlet in the country
will turn its attention to the terrorists. But, judging from
what happened last time, the already weak economy probably
will go into a tailspin, and I might get blamed for the deep
recession that follows.
I've already taken heat for not alerting the country prior
to September 11 when we knew the outlines of what was coming
and what the targets might be. I'll just have to anticipate
more criticism, even though we don't really have a firm idea
this time where the terrorists will strike.
But I sure wish Osama would launch already. I'm not sure
how much more scrutiny our business troubles can take. My
ratings are sliding badly, too many GOP races in the upcoming
election don't look good for us, the editorialists and pundits
-- and some of them are even conservatives! -- are starting
to pick on us big-time. Not even siccing Big John on them
is scaring them off anymore; they're just not as frightened
of Ashcroft as they used to be, especially as the courts keep
overturning most of his anti-terrorist regulations and orders.
There was even a conservative, Reagan-appointed judge the
other day who admonished us to stay within the Constitution!
Who does he think he is? But just his opinion is not a good
sign for our side.
Meanwhile, we're getting ready for Iraq. We've got a new
HQ in the area (so we can disengage from Saudi Arabia over
time), and the final warplan is nearly ready, even though
the Kurds and Iraqi Opposition keep objecting. It's just a
question of when to go. Dick and the rest of the inner council
can't decide whether it would help us or hurt us to attack
before the November election. If D-day is the September 11th
anniversary, we'll have to have toppled Saddam before the
November election; otherwise, it'll be better to wait and
finish it all off before the 2004 campaign begins.
All this stuff is all so damned complicated; I feel 20 years
older already. I sure could use a cold one. I won't, of course,
but I'm beginning to understand now why Bubba was so vulnerable
to interns wearing thongs.
Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, was the San Francisco
Chronicle's theater critic for nearly 20 years; a Ph.D. in
government and international relations, he has taught at various
universitities, and has published in The Nation, Village Voice,
The Progressive and widely on the internet.