Throat" Advises Democrats to Bring It On Big-Time
By Bernard Weiner, The
With the Bush Administration in imploding disarray, frantically
scrambling for ways out of its WMD scandal, I set the code
for alerting "Shallow Throat" that I wanted to talk. I was
anxious to learn, from inside the belly of the beast, how
bad the situation was for the Bush forces and what we in the
opposition could do to make it worse. (The former, high-ranking
Republican mole in the White House* had moved on to another
government agency, but still had friends on the inside.)
Shallow Throat appeared for our rendezvous, at a park bench
in a D.C. suburb, wearing a wig, wide-brimmed hat and wraparound
dark glasses that I hadn't seen before. We ate our deli sandwiches
while we chatted.
"You've certainly got their knickers in a twist," said ST,
with a huge grin. "What's happened is that the patina of invincibility
has suddenly disappeared from Rove and his minions. Everyone
in the White House realizes they've bungled this one badly,
and they're struggling for how to play it to lessen the political
fallout. And so we all get to watch the laughable farce as
a new line is trotted out each day, to see what will work
best. So far, nothing has worked at all, and Bush is psychologically
incapable of accepting responsibility, for anything, so new
sacrificial lambs are being offerred to deflect attention
away from the inner circle. More ammunition for the Dems,
as they continue their attack.
"Oh, much of the larger public seems almost as confused
and apathetic as always - although the public-opinion polls
are beginning to show a slide for Bush in believability and
support for the Iraq war - but that's not the class that counts
in this town. There's blood in the water, and the political
and media sharks are circling. With their arrogant self-righteousness,
the Bushies have made a lot of enemies in two-plus years -
including among my traditional conservative friends - and,
if the Bush juggernaut continues to be seriously weakened,
it's going to be payback time. So tell your friends to keep
bringing it on; the assault is working: The Bush Administration
is finally having to use a good share of its energies and
time on defense instead of being able to focus totally on
"I'd guess," I offerred, "that the Administration's biggest
blunder to date was to try to dump all the WMD scandal blame
onto the CIA."
"The spooks in Langley are not appreciative of that sort
of political gamesmanship," ST replied, "and they are masters
of the controlled leak, and so all sorts of other Bush Administration
skullduggery is starting to, or is about to, surface - in
much the same way as a 'third-rate burglary' at the Watergate
Apartments led to the real, under-the-rock slime of the Nixon
Administration. You don't want to get the CIA ticked off;
unlike many of your liberal friends, the spooks know how to
play for keeps, and they enjoy the sport.
"But it's a larger issue, and here's where the Bush people
are so vulnerable. Given that their bullyboy, in-your-face
attitude had worked so well, in their hubris they really thought
they could do and say anything and get away with it forever.
So they told all sorts of whoppers about why Iraq supposedly
was an 'imminent' danger to the U.S., and grossly manipulated
non-existent facts to generate pro-war hysteria in time to
meet the go-date for the bombing and invasion - which, of
course, had been set a half-year before. All of that was so
blatant and obvious, it was no wonder millions of protesters
took to the streets, and the European leaders and the U.N.
would have nothing to do with the Bush Administration and
even shouted at them in public."
"But," I said, "even though the Bushies always had gotten
away with such behavior before, didn't they suspect that they
might not get away with it this time, given the stakes involved?"
"The short answer is no. For people like Cheney and Rumsfeld
and Wolfowitz and Perle and so on - the true-believer zealots
- they'd been on such an unimpeded roll for so long, and with
the conglomerate-owned mass-media covering their butts for
them, why should it ever end? Oh, a few were aware that the
approach was risky - Colin Powell, for one, knew there was
too much 'bullshit' intelligence, his word not mine, being
passed off as fact - but figured that after the invasion,
the military might just find a whole lot of WMD to justify
the war, and make the lies moot.
"But nothing was found, zilch, nada. Even the two trailers,
which they claimed were proof of nefarious preparations for
bio-chem warfare, turned out to be British-sold vehicles for
making weather-balloon gas. And the stuff buried in the nuclear
scientist's garden 12 years ago just confirmed that there
was no serious atomic development in the works.
"Now, just in case some actual or planted WMD turns up in
Iraq, it's vital that your Democratic and internet-writer
friends need to quit focusing only on those offending 16 words
and to move on to the larger point: Nothing that has been
found to date, and probably nothing that will be found, lends
any credence to the Bush theory - elaborated in speech after
speech for months before the State of the Union address -
that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. or U.K. or their
neighbors. Simply wasn't true.
"But there were Bush and Blair ranting about the necessity
to act immediately because Iraq could activate its bio-chemical
attack weapons in 45 minutes and have drone airplanes drop
nuclear devices on the U.S. mainland. And the supposedly 'close'
ties between al-Qaida and Iraq. It was all 'bullshit'!
And they knew it, just as the Bush inner circle knew al-Qaida
was coming by plane to America in the Fall of 2001 and did
"You think Bush and Cheney and the rest are vulnerable to
impeachment?" I asked.
"It all depends," said ST, "on whether the Democrats and
the press and the whisleblowers keep the pressure on, keep
releasing new juicy tidbits of Bush Administration skullduggery.
The GOP, at least the more rabid elements, are circling the
wagons around the White House, hoping to cut off the attacks.
You'll know the real answer to your question when more Republican
moderates, and then elements of the leadership, start backing
away and seek a meeting with Bush about the matter."
"You mean," I asked, "seek his resignation before the impeachment
stuff hits the fan?"
"Whoa, boy! We're nowhere near there yet. As I say, it depends
on a great number of factors: Whether Blair is forced to resign,
for example; whether the media keeps digging for more Bush
and Cheney dirt; whether the whisteblowers inside and outside
the Agency keep the embarrassing revelations coming, etc."
"But," I asked, " what if it continues to get worse and
worse for the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle cabal?"
Shallow Throat took a long swig of Snapple. "It's like Watergate,
in a way. Nixon was trapped, it was obvious to all that he
was going down, but he refused to resign until the impeachment
train was in the station, and it was then that the GOP leaders
abandoned him and sought a meeting. These Bush guys are not
going to leave until impeachment is staring them in the face
- and, even then, they're desperate and greedy enough to be
capable of anything, including trying to impose martial law
on the country and ruling from the bunkers, postponing the
2004 election, whatever.
"But my guess is that it will never come to that. The forces
that support the Bush extremists - the GOP power-holders,
the giant corporations, the think-tank founders, the big-money
guys, et al. - will figure at some point that it's damage-control
time and they'd better have a back-up plan in order to continue
their program, and to continue their powerful role in making
that program's policy. They'll find someone who knows how
to massage the system rather than wring its neck, who more
subtly can get them what they want."
"And what about Cheney?"
"Tenet probably will have to resign, now that he loyally
fell on his sword to take the blame away from Cheney and Bush
and Rice and Rumsfeld. But Cheney is expendable, too, if it
comes to it. Cheney might just have another heart 'episode,'
and, for 'health reasons,' he could resign. But don't look
for that to happen overnight, or at all. These guys are ruthless
survivors. Cheney will leave, if he does, so that the program
can continue - just like Lyndon Johnson chose not to run again,
so the Vietnam War could continue.
"And, by the way, the Bush people are incompetents - but
that's another story."
"Don't just teasingly drop that in. I want to hear that
story," I said.
"They're so locked into their ideological box that they
don't receive the more complex, real-world information they
need to make wise decisions. The White House aides follow
their boss in their lack of curiosity about the world outside
their little fiefdoms. Don't bother them with facts, their
minds are made up, that sort of thing.
"So, for example, they ignored what actually was happenng
inside Iraq and listened mostly to what the Iraqi exile leaders
were telling them - basically whatever they figured the Bushies
wanted to hear - and assumed it would all go down like Chalabi
and his followers said. The result was that there were no
firm plans for an occupation by arms after Saddam was defeated,
since everyone would want to cooperate with the Americans,
after first kissing their feet and throwing rose petals on
"And now these exiles, many of whom haven't the foggiest
notion what's really happening inside the country, dominate
the new Governing Council of Iraq. And the Americans are surprised
that a great many Iraqis consider these Council members to
be collaborators with the Americans. Every member was appointed
by the occupying power - terrified to permit Iraqis to vote
for their own interim government.
"You can smell Vietnam all over Iraq. The U.S., too stupid
and stubborn to admit it's made a bad mistake, not really
understanding the layers of the culture in which they find
themselves, is going to be bogged down there forever, fighting
Iraqi guerrillas and calling for yes another 50,000 and then
another 100,000 troops but we're winning the hearts and minds
of the natives don't worry the boys will be home by Christmas
now don't that sound familiar?"
"But," I threw in, "they claim they're getting a number
of nations to come help them out, so that the American troops
can head back home?"
Shallow Throat gave me a look like I was a total dumbbell,
then said: "Look, my friend. Before the war started, the Bush
Administration humiliated and bullied countries that should
have been, and could have been, their allies in the first
place. But that would have meant sharing some power, and the
Project for the New American Century ideologues that control
military policy in the Bush Administration, who drew up the
Iraq war doctrine and the strategy for 'benevolent global
hegemony' - yep, they really called it that - could not permit
any other country or international body to have a piece of
"The unilateral cowboys went off and had their nice, quick
little war, but now are paying a huge price in blood and treasure,
and want the countries they'd insulted to come help them play
occupier and hegemonist. No wonder few are signing up voluntarily,
and almost nobody is sending large contingents of troops.
"Let's see which countries placate the Giant Elephant by
sending a few troops, and which countries, like France and
India, politely tell the U.S. to take a long walk on a short
pier. And now that Bush and Blair are in the hot seat because
of their gross lies to bamboozle their citizenry into supporting
an unnecessary war, you can imagine that many countries will
feel more emboldened to refuse the U.S. request for peacekeeping
"I'm getting the distinct impression," I said, "that maybe
you don't really like the Bush folks."
"If it weren't so tragic, it would be funny," said
ST. "But the consequences of their incompetency mixed with
their ideological fanaticism are abolutely tragic. Death and
destruction on massive scales for - what? So that the world's
only Superpower can swagger around the globe like a coked-out
macho-man, thirsty for more oil, more power, more control,
more of everything? It's madness, and does long-term damage
to America, both economically and in creating a fertile field
for terrorism to grow."
"Do you think that Bush&Co. can be defeated in 2004?"
"Sure, given certain factors: that the 9/11 and WMD coverups
continue to unravel. That the economy continues to tank as
the deficits keep climbing to astronomical heights. That popular
social programs keep getting cut (Head Start, Medicare, Social
Security, pollution controls, etc.), and states keep going
broke, with no funds to fix the bridges and the roads and
the schools. That the American people grow tired of permanent
war and body bags being shipped home. That someone discovers
how to make the computer-voting software tamperproof and with
verifiable paper trails. And on and on.
"The short answer is yes, because the Rove in-your-face
approach works only as long as people are afraid of you; when
they stand up and tell you to go to hell, the foundations
holding up that deck of cards will topple and down will come
baby, cradle and all. If they haven't resigned or been impeached
by November of 2004, the Bush forces may well lose the election,
provided, of course, that the Democrats put up someone who
isn't afraid to speak truth to power but who also is able
to mobilize not only the activist Democratic base but also
can reach out to middle-class, middle-of-the-road type voters.
"If my Republican conservative friends and colleagues are
examples - just itching to feel secure but not with reckless
crazies in charge - the Democrat could win a fair election."
"Any final thoughts to pass on?" I asked.
"Just this: Like most bullies, the Bushies are insecure.
Confront them with the facts, put them on the defensive, keep
attacking their weak spots, don't let up, bring it on. You
can win. And when you win, we all win - the country, the nervous
world, the Constitution. Now get to work."
And with that, Shallow Throat, from 10 feet out, flung a
half-eaten sandwich into the dustbin, grinned, pulled the
hat down, and sauntered out of the park. I found myself smiling,
for the first time in a long time.
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco
Chronicle's theater critic for 16 years, and now co-edits
the progressive political website The
*For other conversations with the Shallow Throat character,
go to: www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm