Throat": Bush&Co. Arrogance Will Lead to Their Undoing
December 12, 2002
By Bernard Weiner
The last time "Shallow Throat" and I talked, at a dimly-lit
D.C. suburban tavern several months before the midterm election,
the highly-placed GOP mole within the Bush Administration
was extremely nervous about being discovered. This time, there
was no face-to-face meeting -- that's how frightened Shallow
Throat was. On this night, we communicated in low voices over
public phones in a major city's train station, 15 feet apart
from each other.
I didn't even have a chance to ask a question before the
angry monologue hissed into my ear.
"In our meetings this year, I've passed on various insights
into how Bush&Co. work, and what to do to stop them. Your
Democrat friends took none of that advice and wound up with
their heads in their laps on November 5th. Instead of confronting
Bush&Co. directly on the issues they're most vulnerable on
-- greed, corruption, the environment, extremism, big-brother
government, and so on -- your Democrats, not wanting to be
called 'unpatriotic' or 'soft on terrorism,' caved on every
issue. And you lost the election anyway, so what good did
all that timidity do?"
"I know all that negative stuff already," I said. "Don't
you have any positive bone you can throw my way?"
"It's a question of learning and not-learning. The Democrats,
at least in the House, seem to have learned something from
the election results, and now are more willing to change and
stand up for their party's traditional principles; the Senate
is another matter, with too many presidential ambitions getting
in the way of true oppositional politics.
"The saving grace is that Bush&Co. didn't learn a damn thing
and are behaving even more arrogantly, as if they'd been swept
into power with a huge mandate and can do whatever the hell
they want. Not even Mary Landrieu's victory over them in Louisiana
is giving them pause. They'll keep pushing into the vacuum
of power -- in American politics, while you Dems pick yourselves
off the floor, and across the globe, while there's no other
Superpower to stop them -- until somebody stands up to them
with comparable power. They don't believe they can be stopped."
"But nobody does have that comparable power," I said. "And
you say that's one of their vulnerable points?"
"Bush&Co. have the reins of power, but they don't have moral
authority. People get out of their way because they're frightened
of them, not because they believe in the rightness of their
cause. Inside the U.S., people are scared and insecure, still
reeling from 9/11, and the Bushies expertly have played Johnny-one-note
on that theme. If you and your friends are going to block
them, you've got to assuage the fears of the population, you've
got to be the party of EFFECTIVE anti-terrorism, without all
the police-state tactics. There are bad guys out there anxious
to do us harm, and the Dems have to convince people that they
will deal strongly with the terrorists but without turning
this country into a militarist nightmare.
"You've also got to go after Bush&Co. where they are most
vulnerable. In addition to policy fights, where the Dems could
gain the moral high ground -- prescription-drug coverage,
extremist judges being nominated, Medicaire, education, health-care
reforms, Bush's giveaways to environmental polluters, alternative
fuels, etc., etc. -- there are so many scandals dangling on
the trees out there, just waiting to be harvested. Take your
pick: Harken and Bush, Kenny Lay and Bush, Halliburton and
Cheney, Cheney and energy policy, Tom White & Enron, pre-9/11
knowledge and the coverup, Venezuela, the segregationist underlay
of some Southern GOP leaders, and on and on."
"But," I replied, "the Republicans control Congress; there
aren't going to be any meaningful investigations, subpoenas
and all the rest -- and Mr. Secrets, Kissinger, is in charge
of the so-called 'independent' 9/11 commission."
"The Dems in Congress have to be like bulldogs on these matters
and, if necessary, begin their own investigations in alliance
with respected, non-partisan outside groups. And the Dems
have to lean on the members of the 9/11 commission to not
permit Kisssinger to whitewash anything. And they have to
try to get moderate GOP senators -- McCain, Spectre, Snowe,
Collins, Chaffee -- to stand up and demand the truth. Maybe
your friends can even get them to defect when they see how
far beyond the moral pale Bush&Co. are willing to go -- the
recent revelations that Bush is willing to nuke countries
pre-emptively might wake them up. There's no shortage of horrifying
or embarrassing issues to work on."
"What about hanky-panky in the touch-screen computer voting
results from the November election?"
There was a long silence. Finally, Shallow Throat said: "I
don't know anything directly about that. If it was done, it
was done from the highest Rove echelons in the White House
and kept utterly secret within that small group. The only
thing I can point to is the feeling of certainty in the White
House in the final weeks that they had the election securely
in hand in the key states -- even though the polls indicated
otherwise -- and thus could fee l safe sending Bush out on
the hustings in the key states to make him look good.
"True, the companies that control the software for those
machines are Republican supporters, but don't pin your hopes
on finding anything on that issue. Concentrate on how and
why your Democrat friends lost the election, and figure out
ways to correct that situation in terms of policies. But make
sure future elections have a fail-safe paper trail, so that
votes can be double-checked, and have your own exit-pollers
out there. I would have thought you guys would have learned
not to take election vote-counting for granted after what
happened to you in 2000; the Bush forces had two years to
figure out how to work the system more subtly. Get on it!"
"The last time we talked, a few months before the November
election," I said, "you seemed so discouraged, almost willing
to resign in disgust at what your fellow Republicans were
doing. I'm guessing things haven't changed."
"I've changed," said Shallow Throat. "The bloodthirst in
the White House for war and domination around the globe is
almost palpable, and it sickens me. The move domestically
toward more and more police-state powers is rushing forward
daily, and it frightens me. I've hung in there as long as
I can, because I was able to help alter or slow down some
of the more egregious policies, but those days are coming
to an end. Those few of us with moral qualms about what's
being done are more and more discouraged. I'll be leaving
shortly. What's left of my soul requires it. If I stay much
longer, I'll be sucked into the vortex of greed and power-hunger
that is the central core of the Bush Administration -- that
same core that will be their ultimate undoing."
"What will you do?" I asked.
"I'll follow the example of other women and men of courage
who have left rotten enterprises in the government and corporations
and unions. I love my country and the institutions set up
by our founding fathers, and I will speak up and work toward
the day when those extremists who have hijacked my party will
be revealed for what they are and be removed from the offices
they hold and are besmirching.
"The cracks already are starting to grow. True conservatives,
appalled at what Bush and Ashroft are doing to the Constitutional
guarantees of due process, and at the establishment of huge,
Big Brother-type information-gathering agencies, are starting
to rebel, from both inside and outside the Administration.
I may try to be a bridge between the civil libertarians and
my fellow conservative Republicans -- who are worried that
our party has gone way too far to the extreme right -- to
bring our country back toward the middle.
"As a lifelong Republican, I can't, and won't, join the Democrat
party. But I may choose to support the anti-war groups that
are opposed not only to the coming war with Iraq but to the
imperial tendencies of the Bush Administration. I never thought
I'd hear myself say those words, but so far has Bush&Co. moved
the government to the outer fringes of morality and foreign
policy respectability that I have no choice. And, now that
the conglomerates control the major newspapers and TV networks,
I will support the last truly free press in America -- the
internet -- and work toward trying to establish a more objective
media, maybe even founding our own TV network, one beholden
to no party or faction."
"What's your gut tell you about our chances of success?"
"Look, the HardRightists worked like beavers, openly and
covertly, for nearly two decades to get where they are. They've
finally got all the reins of power in their hands and aren't
going to give up easily. In the short run, you're going to
get your asses handed to you; in the long run, those guys
are gone. The Amerian people may get taken in by fear-mongering
and lies for a while, but, in the end, they don't react well
to bullies and hypocrites. When the cracks begin to widen
more, and they will as Bush&Co keep pushing their extremist
domestic and foreign policies, you're going to see the American
people turn very quickly against their over-reaching rulers.
"I can't tell you when that will be; it could be as early
as 2004, or even sooner if the unraveling continues -- or
it could take a decade of hard work to get the job done. But,
rest assured, that day will come."
We had been on the phones for quite a while, and there were
folks lined up outside our booths. Shallow Throat spotted
someone who looked suspicious, hung up immediately, and walked
quickly out of the station. When my knees stopped knocking,
I did the same, not looking back over my shoulder.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., is co-editor of the progressive
political website The
Crisis Papers, where this article first appeared. He has
taught politics & international relations at various universities,
and was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.