A Gleeful Shallow Throat Reveals "Rehnquist's
September 10, 2004
By Bernard Weiner, The
I hadn't heard from Shallow Throat in nearly three months. The
high-ranking mole in the Bush Administration contacted me last week,
at the height of Rove's Smear Boat attacks, agitated because of
the Kerry Campaign's belated, and at first, ineffectual response.
But when we finally met, a few days ago, in an out-of-the-way
tavern near the old C&O Canal outside Washington, D.C., ST was almost
giddy. What accounted for the change?
"Well, first of all, despite Kerry's latest goof-ups, most follow-up
polls indicate that Bush hasn't gained all that much ground; the
election is still Kerry's to lose. Bush, since he hasn't much positive
to brag about, is running on fear, trust-me, and a bag of phony
promises left over from his 2002 campaign. The American public knows
not to trust this guy in the slightest.
"Second, the GOP Convention was - from the lame routine of the
twins to Zell Miller's Nuremburg Rally speech - so embarrassing
that one almost believed the Dems had rented the time on TV for
the Republicans to perform.
"Third, it seems that Kerry is finally getting his act together
- hitting back strongly when attacked, bringing in some old Clinton
hands to shore up the spine and strategy, and learning how to perform
early-response himself rather than relying on weak surrogates. But
he's still way too East Coast Gentleman in his approach, refusing
to recognize that, for the GOP, this is a street-brawl, where anything
goes, including knees to the groin.
"And, finally," ST said, with a giant grin, "I have here in my
hand a rather intriguing document from a yet-to-be-named famous
rightist to his fellow elitist conservatives."
HOW KERRY CAN WIN
"I know you're dying to tell me who it is and what it says," I
replied, "but I'm not taking the bait. At least not right away.
I want to know how you think Kerry can turn this thing around in
the less than 60 days left before November 2."
ST looked at me staring at the papers he held in his hand, then
said: "I certainly admire your capacity for delayed gratification,
but OK, here goes:
"If you and your liberal friends really want to ensure victory,
and I mean a big victory - a landslide kind of momentum that will
discourage Rove from even thinking of diddling with the computer-voting
machines or 'postponing' the election - here's what I think Kerry
has to do.
"First, he's got to get out of the trap set for him by Bush and
which he entered into so blithely. That is, he's got to start attacking
Bush frontally and fiercely for how he took the U.S. into Iraq through
lies and deception, and how Bush has bungled the occupation ever
"But Kerry voted to give the president the authority to go to
war," I said. "I don't see how he can now say he was wrong in voting
for it without commiting a SuperSize Flip-Flop.
"It ain't gonna be easy," ST replied, "but Kerry could say - and
he laid the foundation for this approach the other night, when he
accused Bush of 'misleading the nation into war' - that the Bush
Administration provided the Senate with false and phony intelligence.
He believes that a president always has, and should have, the authority
to take the nation to war if an emergency requires instant action,
but Bush lied to the nation about an imminent threat to the U.S.,
Saddam's alleged WMD, nuclear threat, ties to 9/11, tight relationship
to Al Qaida, and so on. In short, the senators were supplied with
downright lies and deceptions by Bush and his key advisers, and
nearly everyone in the Senate went along as a result of the con
job - or should I say neo-con job?
"If Kerry can climb out from under his ill-advised vote to authorize
war in Iraq, thus getting rid of that giant albatross around his
neck, he'll be a free man, politically speaking, able to go at Bush's
jugular for his ill-advised rush to war, and for how incompetently
Bush has been waging that war, the result of which is getting more
and more American soldiers killed each day.
SERVICE AND SERVICE-AVOIDANCE
"Then he needs to pound the difference between his volunteering
to fight in Vietnam, and Bush's checking off the box that he didn't
want to go to Vietnam, and Cheney's taking five deferments to avoid
service (because he had "more important priorities") - plus Bush
going missing in action for more than a year when he was in the
Air National Guard.
"In sum, Kerry's gotta take off the gloves and start landing some
good uppercuts and hooks. Enough with the jabbing already. Get in
there and mix it up, on these topics and more contemporary ones
as well - the Medicare fee-raise and drug-discount scam, proper
funding for education, improving the health-care delivery system,
tax breaks for the middle-class, enforcing environmental laws, and
"OK," I said, "for that analysis, it was worth waiting to hear
what you've got in your sweaty little hand. Hand it over."
"What I have here is a memo from the Chief Justice of the United
States Supreme Court to a lot of his conservative friends in high
places, urging them to help ensure that Bush goes down, big time,
"You've got to be joking," I said. "Not that Rehnquist wouldn't
think that privately, but I can't believe he'd be courageous, or
stupid, enough to write it down. You're sure this is authentic?"
"I can't guarantee anything in this town," said ST. "Conceivably,
it could be a plant - a total scam. But the source who supplied
it - a fellow traditional Republican - assured me that Rehnquist
wrote it. Whether this is an early draft, or the final copy, I don't
know. Nor do I know to whom this memo went. But even if it's fiction,
it's what a lot of elite conservatives are saying these days, some
openly, some more covertly. In short, the old conservative power
structure wants these arrogant, bumbling Texas fruitcakes out of
power. Who knows? By writing it down, the Chief Justice, knowing
how things leak in this town, almost is saying that he wants it
to be made public. Here it is, read it yourself..."
"REHNQUIST MEMORANDUM" ON BUSH
I'll bet you never thought you'd hear this from me, but G.W.
Bush has got to be defeated in November.
Yes, I know, I'm a diehard conservative and was part of the
majority that greased his way into the White House. But we had
no idea the damage this guy and his friends would do in just
four years, and how far they are willing to go in amassing total
power and control into their hands.
Most pertinent to us on the court is what he has done to the
judiciary. In effect, he has told us we're irrelevant. Whenever
he wants something badly enough, he bends the Constitution,
ignores the Separation-of-Powers established so brilliantly
by the Founding Fathers, and simply finds a way for the President
to do whatever he and his friends decide they want to do. (For
example, GOP extremists in the House have introduced bills that
would set the precedent of totally abolishing judicial review.)
Take the torture scandal, which is connected to the post-9/11
Patriot Act. Bush and Ashcroft had lawyers at the White House,
Justice and Pentagon draft memoranda that, they claimed, permitted
the President to do anything whatsoever under his role as commander-in-chief
during wartime. Since Bush has declared that we are in a state
of war and that he's a "war president," it then follows that
whatever action the President takes, under this claim of acting
as "commander-in-chief" in "wartime," must be permitted to stand
as legal orders of the Executive.
Under this claim, the President can authorize "harsh interrogation
methods" - a euphemism for torture - and the "disappearing"
of various citizens and foreigners into secret jails, out of
the reach of juridical oversight. Bush officials, apparently
adopting these legal strategems as policy, have done both, and
they really thought they would get away with it.
They are sorely mistaken. I and most of my colleagues on the
bench do not appreciate it when the concept of judicial review,
first established two hundred years ago with John Marshall and
Marbury v. Madison, is dismissed by the Executive Branch as
an outdated constitutional frill. Terrorism or no terrorism,
this is still a society where no man, not even the President,
is above the law - not even if he wraps his grab for power in
the name of "anti-terrorism."
We tried to get the message to him recently in the Hamdi and
Guantanamo cases, where we said, in no uncertain terms, that
while the President assumes, and should have, wide latitude
during wartime, this special consideration was not a blanket
right to unfettered behavior. Justice O'Connor wrote that the
court has ''made clear that a state of war is not a blank check
for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's
citizens." And Justice Scalia wrote: "The very core of our liberty
has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of
In short, we sent Bush a very strong message. Which he and
his advisers seemed to agree to, only to try to go around the
import of the Court's rulings, by testing the limits of what
they could get away with - the way they're delaying our orders
on the Guantanamo detainees, for example, and the way military
tribunals are organized that makes them little more than show
PRESIDENTS ARE NOT KINGS/DICTATORS
Richard Nixon tried to hide his crimes by claiming that any
action taken by a President cannot, by the very fact that he
is Chief Executive, be illegal - but he learned quickly enough,
when the Court rejected this extreme claim, that the Executive
and Legislative Branches are always and forever subject to the
Constitution, as interpreted by the Judicial Branch.
Now we learn that Bush's White House lawyers are asserting
even more outrageous claims to power. Even though the Constitution
grants the States power in determining and running their own
election rules - well, OK, we violated our own principles, but
without setting precedent, in Bush v. Gore - the Bush Administration
claims that is has the power to cancel or postpone a general
election (presumably when it appears it would lose) in the face
of perceived "terrorist" threats. And, worse still, that it
could partially cancel or postpone an election in certain states
(presumably in states it would have lost) and be declared the
winner based on a partial vote (presumably from states it would
There is no way we could, or would, let that happen. If Bush
and his cronies persist in creating a constitutional crisis,
they will get one - and not one they will find agreeable. Even
the military may refuse to follow Bush's dictatorial orders.
In short, I'm writing this memo and circulating it (on a CONFIDENTIAL
basis) to you and other key Republican business and governmental
leaders because it's plain now, as it wasn't in 2000, that Bush
and his crowd are inimicable to our best financial and political
interests - and the interest of the American people in general
- and must be stopped here and now before they can do even more
This crew appears to be so power-hungry, and so incompetent
in carrying out their radical programs, that only disaster will
result if they gain a second term. If you agree with my prognosis,
I urge you to move quickly to do whatever you can, and use whatever
influence and funds you must, to ensure that Bush goes down
to defeat on November 2.
KERRY IS NO DANGER TO US
Kerry ordinarily would not be our choice, but, if elected,
he will be pretty much a toothless tiger, struggling so hard
to undo the worst damage done by his predecessor, that he'll
have little time or energy to devote to liberal mischief.
In the four years of a Kerry administration, we can regather
our forces and select someone less obvious and more competent
to run against him in 2008, re-asserting true conservative dominance
in the years to come.
But unless we get rid of this crass, arrogant, reckless Bush
crowd - by a landslide defeat, so as to obviate any late "surprises"
Karl Rove may have up his sleeve - we, and the country, are
in for a hellacious administration run amok with its ruthless
power. Please let me know your thoughts, by courier delivery
I finished reading and looked up at Shallow Throat, whose grin
was as wide as the Mississippi. And then I realized that my smile
was equally as broad.
We high-fived each other, and, giggling, ordered two more pitchers.
Help was on the way, from the strangest of places.
Bernard Weiner - who has created numerous other "conversations"
with Shallow Throat (available at http://crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm)
- is a playwright/poet, formerly a writer/editor with the San
Francisco Chronicle; currently, he co-edits The
Crisis Papers. He is a contributing author to the recently released
Big Bush Lies book.