Throat" Returns to Tell Dems How to Take Bush Downnnnnnnn
May 14, 2003
By Bernard Weiner, The
Appalled at the damage being done by the HardRight ideologues
who had hijacked the GOP, "Shallow Throat" - the
highly-located mole in the Bush Administration, who revealed
secrets from behind the White House curtain - had had enough
and had moved to elsewhere in the government.*
I was curious as I drove out to the suburban picnic spot
Shallow Throat had chosen outside the Beltway. Why had my
inside source called for a meeting?
It didn't take long to find out. We sat in the shade under
a large oak. Shallow Throat, wearing dark glasses and a wig
I hadn't seen before, launched into a frenzied monologue two
seconds after we started munching the deli sandwiches I'd
brought with me.
"I can't believe what your Democrat friends are doing.
Here you have an authoritarian regime, doing great damage
to our constitutional form of government, doing even more
damage to an already weakened economy, rampaging around the
world attacking and threatening governments, doing and saying
things that are enraging entire areas of the world against
insulting and humilitating our longterm allies, weakening
all international institutions, cutting back on all sorts
of valuable social programs, attacking environmental protections,
appointing ideologue judges who will OK everything the Bushies
do, controlling the conglomerate press. In short, you've got
a regime in power that is endangering U.S. interests abroad
and engaged in ruinous policies at home, and your Democrat
buddies behave as enablers."
"Now wait a minute," I interjected. "I too
abhor the cowardice of the Democrat leaders, but you forgot
to mention that they are in the minority in Congress, and
have very little power to do anything."
"That's true in terms of numbers," said Shallow
Throat, "but - even ignoring the alliances that can be
made with moderate Republicans - by not even trying to mount
a righteous, tenacious, vocal opposition, the Democrats further
empower the worst policies and tendencies of the Bush Administration.
And, worst of all, by not performing as a true opposition,
they give the impression to the citizenry at large that the
Bush policies have the Democrats' OK and that they, and the
people behind those policies, are not dangerous enough to
"But you know," I replied, "that you can use
up all your political capital and credibility if you oppose
everything. You just look like sore losers and obstructionists."
"So take them on, big time, on just the major items:
filibuster their nominees for judgeships, criticize straight-up
their foreign and war policies, really fight to save the environment,
denounce their self-serving economic policies - "
"But the Democrats are doing that," I interrupted.
"In each of those areas, some have spoken up and -"
"But not in any major, consistent, loud way. Daschle
is such a go-along-to-get-along disaster that he's barely
heard; Pelosi makes her obligatory objections but doesn't
really mount a campaign. The presidential hopefuls make loud
noises, but only on specific focus-group-tested issues and
they can be dismissed easily as 'partisan politicians,' trying
out campaign themes. No, what I'm talking about, what's needed,
is something akin to the British practice of having a 'shadow
government' in place, with Democrat 'Cabinet ministers,' as
it were, issuing well-reasoned, strong objections and policy
"In case you haven't noticed," I countered, "you're
not in jolly ol' Britain right now. You're in 'Murica, and
we don't have disciplined parties, certainly not a disciplined
opposition party. We Democrats need a leader to rally around
and there ain't one, yet."
"If that's the only thing that will put some straighten-up
in your spines, then you bloody well better find that leader,
and soon. I run across more ideas and leadership every day
in pieces written on the Internet."
"Couldn't agree more," I said. "So let's look
at the Democrats. They have nine potential candidates for
the nomination, if you rule out a draft-Gore movement. How
do those nine strike you? Which ones could take Bush down?"
"Look," said Shallow Throat, "if it was a
traditional GOP candidate the Democrat was running against,
as a lifelong Republican I'd vote for the GOP candidate. But
since our party got kidnapped by the ultras and zealots, and
since they're driving our country to ruin, I'd probably support
any of those nine, and work my ass off to see that he or she
got elected. But, OK, since you ask, here's my assessment:
"Bush is so weak on the issues, so ignorantly bogged
down abroad, so obviously tied to his wealthy supporters,
so enmeshed in scandals - not the least of which is withholding
information from the 9/11 Commission so they won't have all
the facts at their command to make a definitive judgement
by their deadline - that any decent candidate could take him
down. But the key word is 'decent,' which means 'electable'.
"You can eliminate Sharpton, Mosely-Braun and Kucinich
from the list. They're simply not electable in this conservative
climate: too far to the left. Lieberman and Gephardt are probably
too far to the right, especially for the activist Dems who
vote in the primaries. Graham is probably too locked in the
middle, and has the charisma of a cabbage - even though, as
the former head of the Senate Intelligence Committe, he has
some amazing facts about pre-9/11
events that could blow Bush out of the water. "You need
someone who will play well to the activist base - or at least
be tolerated by them - but can reach out to the moderates
and centrists that will determine the election. That means
Dean, Edwards, Kerry.
"I think one of those three could be the one to stick
it to Bush - if, and this is a big if, all factions
of the Democrat party are willing to unite behind him and
work to elect him, even with whatever major disagreements
they may have with the nominee. If and when that happens,
the momentum will build quickly in creating a true oppositional
force, and Rove, with the economy
still in the doldrums, will start quaking in his pants, getting
even more desperate and dirty."
"But," I asked, "you're not going to tell
me which one would be the strongest?"
"You're missing the point, my friend. For one, it's
a bit early; let's see how each handles himself in the coming
months. But the issue isn't one of personality. The issue
is: find someone credible and electable to rally around. Your,
our, only chance to break the momentum of the HardRight thugs
in power, and to begin to fix the damage domestically and
internationally wrought by this administration, is to defeat
Bush in 2004. If that means holding my nose and voting for
a Democrat who might not be all that I wish him to be, I'll
do it. I'll even lick envelopes and canvass for the nominee
and send in money. That's how serious I am. Of course, I'll
wear my wig, so I can still keep my government job."
"And what happens," I asked, "if that Democrat
candidate loses, or if the computer-voting programs are tweaked
in enough key states to hand the Electoral College victory
"You're not as dumb as you look," said Shallow
Throat with a hearty laugh. "The only chance you
have to avoid vote-tampering, given the current state of computer
technology, is to have each and every election department
use paper ballots. Then, even though the TV networks will
go ballistic, those ballots would be hand-counted, with Democrat
and Republican monitors behind every table where the votes
are being tabulated.
"Unless you return to paper ballots - and pressure to
get exit-polling back - you'll be at the mercy of those three
companies, all Republican supporters, that control the programming
of all the computer-voting machines in America. Look what
happened in key states in the 2002 election where the Democrats
either were ahead or dead-even in the polls going into the
and then, mysteriously, emerged losers when the computer counted
the votes, with no exit-polling or paper trail to check against.
I'm not saying that's what happened, but I put nothing past
Rove & Co. when it comes to playing dirty pool. He may
even give the go-ahead for a move on Syria or Iran, so that
the U.S. is engaged in another 'patriotic' war at election
time - or maybe al-Qaida will launch another massive terrorist
attack on the U.S. at the right moment."
"You've ignored the first part of my question. What
if, even with all the negatives facing Bush and his policies,
the Democrat candidate loses? How bad will it be?"
"You don't really want to know. My contacts inside the
White House tell me that given another term, Bush and his
far-right buddies will make the past couple of years look
like a political tea party. It will be so awful, for everyone,
in America and around the world, that the whole house of cards
likely will come tumbling down. But, what I'm trying to tell
you is: If you all fasten on a candidate soon and give him
all the support that's required - and get to work on election-machine
reform now - you'll win. The American people are easily scared
and easily fooled, but only for awhile. They're wary and frightened
of Bush's adventurism abroad, and they're closer to Democratic
"But Rove already has figured out how Bush wins,"
I said. "The recipe is more fear, more patriotic imagery
(that flyer-suit PR job on the aircraft carrier was a harbinger),
more reminders about 9/11 and terrorism, more permanent war,
more religious iconography. It's worked so far, so he's on
solid ground thinking it'll work again."
"Listen," said Shallow Throat, "there's 40%
of the country that's likely to support Bush no matter what
he says or does - hard-rock conservatives, fundamentalist
Christians, big business, covert racists, et al. - and there's
40% solid against Bush (if you get them out to vote): Democrats,
labor, African-Americans, women, the peace movement, Hispanics,
Jews. But the middle 20% is pretty independent-minded and
therefore is open to reason. What they see is an Administration
incompetent with regard to the economy and to the rest of
the world, following hare-brained logic, putting Americans
at great risk by virtue of their extreme policies. They'll
listen to a reasonable, tough, popular Democrat candidate,
especially one who turns it into a real horse-race and who
has the guts to speak the truth."
"I know you've heard this before, but why don't you
become a Democrat and run yourself? Go ahead and give me a
preview of what you'd say, what you think Mr. Democrat Nominee
"An intriguing idea, to be sure, but I value my life,
thank you very much. But, sure, I'll play the scene. Here,
off the top of my picnic-brained head, is my brief stump speech:
"I was there in the White House for two years, watching
these guys work. Let me tell you that they are not nice people,
they are not good people, they think only of power and control
and how to get more of it, they don't give a fig for ordinary
citizens, they are beholden to their greed and their fat-cat
buddies, they don't have any curiosity for ideas, they loathe
people because they can manipulate them so easily, their whole
philosophy can be summed up by grab and get and take, they
are mean-spirited in almost all ways and vicious when crossed,
they tell one outrageous lie after another and are amused
and sometimes amazed that hardly anybody in the mainstream
media ever calls them on this, they are arrogant bullies and
think that will always get them what they want, and, deep
down, they know that their time in power is growing shorter
and that's why they're so desperate and angry.
"I promise I will treat you with respect, will have
America deal with the world as the first among equals instead
of as a rampaging superpower, I will genuinely care about
ordinary working people and families and will make fixing
the economy my primary objective, I will return hope and caring
and warmth to our country, I will fight terrorism and terrorists
but without ripping apart the Constitution to do so, I will
care for our fragile environment, I will appoint respecters
of the law and not advocates for a cause, I will spend all
the time and energy required to bring about a just peace in
the Middle East, I will devote much of my term to our young
people and their education... well, you get the picture."
Shallow Throat was smiling, almost laughing.
My mouth hung open. "I'd vote for you," I stammered.
A giggle from Shallow Throat. "Right. But I'm not running.
My advice still stands: Settle on a candidate soon, and start
those wheels turning. You're going to have to build up a lot
of steam and power to deal with these guys, who've spent at
least 10-20 years working to get where they are. They aren't
going to go easy. But you liberals are finally going to have
to realize that you have to fight, really fight, if you want
to restore civility and peace and justice and kindness to
your politics. It's not going to be easy - these are mean,
vicious graspers we're talking about here - but, if you unite
and pour your energies and love for our country into the campaign,
and get your
own media machine going, you can do it. Now go do it."
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was a writer/editor
with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years; he now
co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has
taught at various universities.
"Shallow Throat" in the DU articles index for previous
missives from the White House mole.