Throat" Savages Dem Leaders and Reveals Bush Strategy
October 18, 2002
By Bernard Weiner
So many of us were devastated after Congress rolled over
and gave Bush his war on Iraq. We needed help in figuring
it all out. So I set up the coded signal to "Shallow Throat,"
the high-ranking GOP mole in the White House who had been
so helpful in pointing us in the right direction several times
We met in a nondescript bar in a suburb of Washington, D.C.,
Shallow Throat wearing a different wig and glasses than last
time. I didn't even get a chance to ask a question before
Shallow Throat sneered at me with disgust and began raging.
"You liberals are so clueless, no wonder you got reamed on
the Iraq vote. You wanted to look reasonable to the American
public, and not run the risk of looking 'unpatriotic' for
the November election. But what you wound up doing was giving
Bush cover. You got all the words into the war-resolution
that Americans wanted to hear - 'last resort,' United Nations,
diplomacy, inspectors and so on - but you, and Bush&Co., know
that the attack juggernaut is rolling and Bush isn't going
to pay the least attention, other than lip-service, to any
of it. The war is on, and your lot were cowards, enablers
with blood on their hands."
"That's not fair," I said, even though I was so angry at
the Democrat leadership myself. "They probably figured that
unless the Democrats win the election next month, any chance
of stopping Bush on his march toward total control disappears."
"Yes, I'm aware that your Democratic friends didn't want
to risk anything when they believed they might be able to
take the House back and even pick up a seat or two in the
Senate. I grant you it's a reasonable strategy to stick to
the bread-and-butter issues the public cares most about -
the sinking economy, fear of losing jobs, prescription drug-coverage
for the elderly, the need for educational reform, etc. - but
it misses the forest for the trees."
"Your Democratic friends are laughed at inside the White
House. The Dems in Congress still want to play by the traditional
rules - give a little here, get a little there, compromise
and scratch each others' backs, and so on - but even after
watching for nearly two years how Bush&Co. operate, playing
real hardball, your friends still don't get it. Bush&Co. want
it ALL, they want EVERYTHING, and they'll do whatever it takes
to get it. You can't play nicey-nice with these guys. They'll
lie, cheat, steal, promise one thing and do another once they've
"Is that why you're revealing their secrets, even though
you're a GOP stalwart?"
"I know now how Jim Jeffords felt before he resigned from
the Republican Party and gave the Senate to the Democrats:
I'm forced every day to play ball with sleaze and power-hunger
and hypocrisy and uncompromising zealotry. I choose to stay
on the inside, for whatever good I can do there and so that
I can let you and your Democrat friends know what's really
going on." There was a pause. "But it's getting worse and
worse. It's like working in a charnel house, and the stench
associated with rapacious greed and the lust for power and
total control and running roughshod over the Constitution
is getting to me. I don't know how long I can stick around.
I take five showers a day just for the illusion that I'm clean."
I looked into Shallow Throat's eyes. "I haven't seen you
like this before," I said. "You look totally disheartened.
It's really that bad, huh?"
"You remember the flap when the German justice minister compared
Bush's tactics with those of Hitler - of mesmerizing the population
with war-talk while the real issues are swept under the rug?
The Bushies got enraged because she hit too close to the mark.
The administration's propaganda policy is, who said it?, a
weapon of mass distraction - and it's working. Look at how
the Congress caved, look at the absence of major coverage
on the shaky economy and the various Bush&Co. scandals."
"You're not really comparing Bush to Hitler?"
"Of course not. But the Bush people learned a lot from The
Third Reich, and other authoritarian regimes, in terms of
how to organize and propagandize and frighten and slowly slice
away at the veneer of democracy and rule of law. They also
learned the value and techniques of bullying, especially with
regard to foreign conquest and scaring their critics domestically.
And this 'permanent-war' rationale isn't new either. In fact,
there's a lot of recycling of nasty ideas and tactics these
"You're joking, right? You're just exaggerating because you're
so frustrated working inside the belly of the beast."
"Think again, my friend. The hardright cabal at the heart
of Bush&Co. for at least the past decade, ever since the collapse
of communism (and even before that), have been thinking about
and planning for, and writing about, what they would do if
they ever got into power.* Your namby-pamby friends in the
Democrat opposition chose to ignore those guys, thinking them
far-right kooks, with all their talk about acting aggressively
as a superpower, first-strike "pre-emptive" attacks, "benevolent
hegemony," control of oil&gas reserves, making sure no other
country ever could emerge to challenge the U.S., mangling
the Constitution to get what they want, and so on. Now do
you understand why the HardRight - the politicians, the justices,
the columnists, et al. - have fought with so much venom and
meanness to get into power? This is their time, as they see
it, when they can Take It All - around the globe, in this
country - and they will crush anyone in their way who tries
to stop them. Iraq is just the tip of the iceberg."
"It can't all be that dark," I said, my skin beginning to
crawl. "The fact that the American people, in poll after poll,
for example, were way ahead of their elected representatives
in Congress - wanting U.N. inspectors in Iraq, not going in
there without our allies and U.N. approval, and so on - must
count for something."
"Sure, thanks to the efforts of liberals and moderates, you've
slowed them down a bit, forced them to alter their rhetoric
- once they said there was no need to go to Congress and the
United Nations for authorization, but they were forced to
bend in those directions. So, big deal. Let's be clear: If
they don't get what they want by going the civilized way,
they will take what they want anyway. Don't you understand?
THESE...ARE...NOT...NICE...PEOPLE. They are playing for keeps.
You're talking shadow forces unleashed, my friend."
"Isn't there anything that can be done to stop them?"
"Short of voting them out of power in 2004 - or ruining them
through investigations and impeachment before then as a result
of all their scandals - all you can hope for right now is
to slow them down. If the Democrats take the House and hang
on to the Senate, you'll be able to stick some good wood into
their spokes - maybe even get some tough investigations going;
you'll force Bush&Co. to figure another way around.
But if the GOP loses in November, and the Democrats continue
to behave like Bush lap-dogs, the game is over. The Democrats
have to become a true opposition party and take it to Bush&Co.
straight up. Power is the only thing these Bush guys understand.
The Dems have to feel it and be willing to FIGHT, big time,
for those things they believe in. I'm not sure your current
Dem leaders understand that or have the courage to even try.
The young people demonstrating in the streets, and the online
political sites have that knowledge, but aren't strong enough
yet to be taken seriously. As for the rest of the citizenry,
thanks to September 11th and now the renewed terrorist attacks,
they're too frightened to want anything but security and seem
willing to go along with whatever the Bushies say is necessary."
"Up to a point," I interjected. "If Iraq turns out to be
a disaster, and more terrorist attacks occur as a result of
Bush&Co. policies, and more and more allies get turned off
by U.S. arrogance and bullyboy behavior, and the economy continues
to tank, and Americans' civil liberties continue to shrink,
I think you'll see Americans getting really angry."
"Dream on," Shallow Throat said with a sad grin. "These guys
are experts at ratcheting up the fear factor and keeping their
permanent war going - plus, don't forget there actually are
genuine bad-guy terrorists out there."
"I refuse to believe that you can fool all of the people
all of the time. The truth will out. And once the American
people get angry at their leaders, watch out."
"Well," said Shallow Throat, "I'm glad that you and your
Democrat friends still have that idealism, because that belief,
and the willingness to do something to activate it, is the
only thing right now that offers any hope. From inside the
White House, it all looks too scary and awful to even want
to think about...And speaking of that place, I've been away
too long and someone might begin to wonder where I am. Don't
forget: What happens now will determine America's, and the
world's, future for a long time. Develop some backbone...quick."
And with that, Shallow Throat exited the bar. It took me
a half-hour before my legs stopped trembling and I could get
up to leave.
A few days after our meeting, in a package sent by regular
mail, I received the following books and articles from Shallow
Throat, which chillingly laid it all out: "From Containment
to Global Leadership? America & the World After the Cold War,"
by Zalmay M. Khalilzad (currently the U.S. special envoy to
Afghanistan; published by Rand Corporation, 1995); Bill Kristol
and Robert Kagan's "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy
(Foreign Affairs, July-August 1996); Nicholas Lemann's "The
Next World Order" (New Yorker, April 1, 2002); Jay Bookman's
"The President's Real Goals in Iraq" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
September 29, 2002) and "An Empire by Any Other Name" (Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, October 10, 2002); "The National Security
Strategy," issued by The White House (www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nssall.html).
Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, was the San Francisco
Chronicle's theater critic for nearly 20 years. A Ph.D. in
government & international relations, he has taught at various
universities and published in The Nation, Village Voice, The
Progressive, and widely on the internet.