Throat to Dems: "One Chance, Don't Blow It"
By Bernard Weiner, The
I'd been trying to reach "Shallow Throat" for several months,
but had never received a response. "I apologize, Bernie, for
not answering your coded messages," said ST, as we sat opposite
each other in a dimly-lit Virginia tavern, "because you wouldn't
believe how scary it is to be inside the Bush Administration
"For the first time in three years, they really are aware
that their whole deck of cards could come tumbling down around
their ears - and not just in November at the ballot box -
and so they're getting even more desperate and vicious."
The high-ranking GOP mole - formerly inside the White House
and now in another government agency - had talked with me
numerous times over the past year and a half.*
To be sure, there was apprehension expressed on those occasions,
about the possibility of Bush operatives seeing us in conversation,
but nothing like this fright.
"So why are you taking chances now by meeting me?" I asked.
"Because the seeds of self-destruction finally are sprouting
in the Bush Administration," ST said, "and I don't want you
and your liberal friends to blow it and give these guys the
opportunity to hang on to power.
"If that happens, we're all in deep, deep trouble - continued
imperialism abroad, more militarist police-state actions at
home, further shredding of the Constitution, larger federal
deficits and their debilitating effects on the economy, millions
out of work despairing of finding decent jobs, fatal weakening
of Medicare and Social Security, the whole ball of wax.
"But if you and your friends play it right - and you're
finally starting to do so - you can take these guys down via
united activism on key issues like pre-9/11 knowledge, Cheney's
secret energy policy, the lies that got us into Iraq, Rumsfeld's
Office of Special Plans, Bush's AWOL period, the outing of
CIA agent Valerie Plame, and so on - and through the election
"Get Mr. Halliburton first - Cheney's even more vulnerable
than the Bush Boy - and then keep going. You can get these
guys. Even with the dirty tricks that are being readied as
"What tricks?" I asked, as I took in ST's impressive new
wig and dark glasses.
"Anything you can conceive of, the Rove boys are working
on. Not just the smears and lies regarding Dem candidates
- the electorate has come to expect that, to a certain extent,
although the Bushistas carry that stuff to new levels of dirty
politics - but the bigger manipulations. Like the way computer-voting
programs can be tampered with to change election results with
nobody being the wiser. (Take another look at Georgia and
Max Cleland's "defeat" in the 2002 election.) Like in key
states removing thousands of folks from the voting rolls deliberately
and 'by accident.' (For the worst example, see how the Bush
campaign, under Gov. Jeb Bush, arranged it in Florida in 2000.)
"Like almost inviting another huge al-Qaida attack inside
the U.S. sometime before the election. Like being able to
pull the rabbit Osama bin Laden out of a magic hat to demonstrate
how 'successful' our war on terror is going. Didn't do much
good when Saddam was taken in Iraq, and Osama's death or capture
won't change much on the terrorism ground either - but Bush
will be able to brag about his anti-terorrist 'leadership,'
hoping we'll forget that his policies have created more terrorists
than the U.S. has eliminated."
WHO'S MORE FRIGHTENED OF WHOM?
"But," I countered, "the U.S. populace (along with the world
in general) has become much more cynical these days about
anything Bush and his cohorts say, especially after all the
WMD lies that got us into the Iraq war to begin with. Why
would the Bush Administration risk getting caught out in more
lies and deceptions and manipulations?"
"I told you," said Shallow Throat, looking around nervously.
"Though some of the key players like Rumsfeld, Cheney and
Perle think their in-your-face arrogance and the compliant
mass-media will see them through, the more political operatives
like Rove and Gillespie see the electoral handwriting on the
wall - Bush is defeated in poll after poll by any unnamed
Democrat, and in head-to-head polls now against Kerry - and
they'll risk anything to stay in power. And I mean anything.
(They may be dumb but they ain't stupid: many top Bush officials
are fully cognizant of the possibility of being brought before
criminal courts when they leave office.)
"The Bushistas know how to play the ongoing 9/11 and WMD
'investigations,' by appointing a number of puffballs to the
commissions, circumscribing what they can look for, and then
delaying and withholding information, trying to postpone the
final reports until after election day. If your Democratic
friends had any smarts, and balls, they would establish their
own truly independent, blue-ribbon commission on the WMD lies,
"Bush's first three years involved laying the foundations
for full implementation of their agenda in a second term;
they don't want to lose the chance to execute the rest of
the plan, because they know they might not get back into the
White House for quite awhile. Their whole momentum will be
shot to hell."
"You mean," I asked, "that they're that frightened of John
Kerry, or whoever might emerge if he falters or gets taken
"You bet your patooties they're scared. Their arrogance
and bullying and brazen lying - and the thoroughgoing incompetency
with which they've operated, domestically and abroad - have
made innumerable enemies in the GOP and re-energized the Democratic
party. Rank-and-file Dems are even willing to vote for someone
they don't particularly care for, just to break the back of
the Bush neo-con juggernaut and return the country to a more
sane, rational course.
"But while the Bush folks are afraid of the Dem candidate,
whoever it turns out to be - and, since they're especially
vulnerable on AWOL and Iraq policies, they're most worried
about Kerry and Clark - they're almost more concerned about
the defections popping up in conservative and moderate Republican
ranks. These good, traditional Republicans might not be able
to vote for a Democrat in November, but they might well choose
to stay home on election day."
LEAKAGE IN THE RED STATES
"You really see major weakness in Bush's usual base of support,
especially in the Red states, that he carried last time?"
"It's not what I see that matters," ST replied. "It's what
the Bush folks are hearing from all around the country. Sure,
they can count on their fundamentalist base - and they'll
throw occasional hunks of red meat their way on abortion,
gay marriage, gun-control and rightwing judges - but the usual
Republican coalition is no longer solid and impregnable.
"The black-helicopter crowd is terrified with the precedents
being set by the Patriot Act as interpreted by John Ashcroft.
The small-government and Libertarian types are appalled at
the massive intrusion into citizens' private lives, and the
huge bureaucracy that accompanies such police-state tactics.
The balanced-budgeters can't believe how Bush is endangering
the entire economy with his reckless spending and the enormous
deficits being racked up that our kids and grandkids will
have to pay for somehow. The isolationist wing of the GOP
is horrified by the eagerness with which Bush and his neo-con
buddies are willing to send out the military to invade and
bomb one country after another, with more to come.
"In short, there are enough dissatisfied, frustrated Republicans
out there who, even at this early date, are vowing not to
vote for Bush in November. Even with the dirty tricks and
Roveian 'surprises' that are sure to come, Bush could lose.
That's why they were desperate enough to send Bush onto 'Meet
the Press' last Sunday, to try to tamp down a lot of the hot
spots. Unfortunately, Bush's awkward, stay-on-message spinning
just revealed how defensive and vulnerable he is on key issues,
and how unprepared he is for the election debates that will
be coming up in the Fall."
"Debates against whom?" I asked.
"Any of the Dems still in the race could verbally wrestle
Bush to the mat. Dean could whupp him up one side and down
the other, but probably won't get the chance. Edwards may
be a bit green when it comes to no-holds-barred political
debating, but he could tie Bush in knots as well. Kerry could
take him easily, but let's hope he develops a more lively,
passionate persona - which he probably could do with gusto
if he confronts Bush on his war-lies and his AWOL status,
with facts to back up the attack."
THE IDEAL TICKETS
"As long as you brought up the candidates, are you willing
to suggest the strongest ticket the Dems could put up?"
"Sure," said Shallow Throat, "for whatever it's worth, I'll
have a go.
"Assuming that Kerry is the top dog - and that the Massachusetts
senator can finesse his way around the gay-marriage decision
of the Massachusetts Supreme Court - I think there are any
number of combinations that could work. Kerry/Clark or Kerry/Edwards
would be mighty strong; so would Kerry/Graham - all three
of those guys are Southerners - or maybe even Kerry/Dean or
Kerry/Gephardt. I just wish our party had a strong group running
for the nomination, instead of just the Bush Boy. But, if
he's smart, Rove will dump Cheney as a tainted liability -
excused for 'health reasons' - and go to Rudi Giuliani or
"And if the GOP goes into the election campaign with either
of those combos, do you still think the Democrat could win?"
"I do indeed. Mainly because they have a secret weapon within
the GOP itself... George W. Bush. The Democratic party can
count on Bush - and his mean-spirited, greedy, power-hungry,
incompetent courtiers - to provide all the ammunition the
Dems need. Go get him."
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., a former writer/editor with the San
Francisco Chronicle, co-edits the progressive website The
earlier conversations with the character Shallow Throat, go