Democratic Underground

"Shallow Throat": Wounded, Cornered Animals Are Dangerous

June 21, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

After Mark Felt unmasked himself as "Deep Throat," I immediately tried to contact our contemporary GOP mole, "Shallow Throat," inside the Bush Administration, the one who had fed us numerous tips many times before.* But I received no response from the former White House official, currently at another government agency.

A few nights ago, we finally met again, in a Bethesda pub. Shallow Throat was wearing a new wig - and, even in this dimly-lit location, wraparound shades - and seemed more nervous than usual.

"Sorry I couldn't get back to you more quickly, Bernie," said ST, "but I had to wait until the Deep Throat frenzy cooled a bit at work. You saw how right-wing pundits attacked Felt as a 'traitor' and said he'd been 'disloyal' to the President. I figured I'd better to keep my head down in this paranoid, vicious Bush administration - one that makes Nixon's felonies seem like Boy Scout capers."

"So why are you here now?" I asked. "Clearly, something must be on your mind."

"I'm willing to take the chance because I want your liberal Democrat and moderate Republican friends to know that though the Bush higher-ups are running around like crazed rats in a cage right now, they are prepared to pull out all the stops. You guys better get ready."

"How about speaking plain English?" I said. "Just tell me what's going on, without all the ambiguous phraseology."

BEWARE OF WOUNDED, CORNERED BEASTS

Shallow Throat took a big breath. "The real world is crashing in on them and the only way they know how to respond is threatening and bullying again, and unleashing big events to divert the public's and media's focus.

"They know their old way isn't working anymore - the recent polls have been absolutely horrific for them, and they're going to get worse - but they don't know what to do to turn their fortunes around. They are psychologically and ideologically incapable of admitting that they might have made strategic errors, and Bush believes himself God's representative on earth, so not much room for self-doubt and change there. They've painted themselves into their own self-destructive corner.

"In short, the Bushies are vulnerable - that's what I'm trying to tell you! Go get 'em! But beware: cornered, wounded animals are extremely dangerous."

"Where do we 'get' them? How?" I shot back.

"Go for their weaknesses, obviously, but also take a lesson from Karl Rove: Go for their strengths as well. I'll get to how in a minute, but let's look at their weaknesses first.

"Where are they falling most quickly in the polls? Social Security. The Iraq disaster. The lies that led us into that war, which the Downing Street memos verify. Their overreaching in the Terry Schiavo family situation, and the whole political thrust of the fundamentalists. The sluggish economy and poor jobs-growth. Oil prices. The outrageous cost of health care. And so on.

"Their perceived strengths: 'The War on Terror.' National security. 'Moral values.' Their fundamentalist base. Bush's 'you-know-where-I-stand' attitude of manly strength. Their control of Congress. And so on."

"OK," I replied, "we all know that. What should we do?"

THE NECESSITY OF CONNECTING THE DOTS

Shallow Throat took a long slug of Dos XX. "For starters, don't forget always to connect the two lists. Demonstrate how, for example, in Iraq and the Islamic world in general, Bush's war/torture policies make Americans less safe rather than more safe, more a target for attack by terrorists. Certainly they make our soldiers less safe in Iraq and maybe Syria next. Iraq is, and Syria would be, a war for no good reason except to help neo-con ideologues, most of whom studiously avoided having to go fight in any U.S. battle, experiment with their ivory-tower theories of changing the Middle East by bayonet and bombs.

"Another example: given the fluctuations of the economy, and the ups and downs of the Stock Market, most people want the certainty offered by Social Security; Bush is still peddling his plans that would, over time, decimate and then eviscerate Social Security. Don't back off; keep highlighting his reckless approach, and tie that in to what his 'you-know-where-I-stand' mantra really means these days: that he's stubborn as a mule and will do even more damage to the middle-class and American society in general unless he is forced to change courses."

"Earlier, you mentioned the Downing Street Memos," I said. "Should we liberals and our moderate conservative friends focus on getting the DSM facts out there?"

"You guys are missing the point," said Shallow Throat. "Rove has conditioned the public to accept anything the Administration does, even if it violates the Constitution and international law, as long as it seems to be protecting America from another terrorist attack. Invading and occupying Iraq? Torture of Muslims in our name? A majority of Americans seem willing to accept all that for their supposed safety.

FOLLOW THE COVERUP

"Follow the coverup. The Administration has broken laws and good-faith with the American people and gone outside the Constitution in concealing aspects of the war, and the torture protocols, time and time again. That's where they are vulnerable. Locate evidence of those illegalities, in the DSM and domestic sources, and how they've been covered up; reveal and repeat those to the American people. For example, at least six months before Bush received authorization from Congress to make war on Iraq, he was already making war on Iraq; further, the U.S. never received a final vote from the U.N. Security Council to authorize war. There were some reports at the time that major bombing of Iraq was going on before Congress gave Bush authority to wage war, but now the British memos verify that very fact in top-secret government documents, and that the British knew such bombing was illegal. Use those facts, and others revealed in the U.K. memos. And so on.

"In other words, you can use the DSM to help document the illegalities and as proof that what you've been saying about the lies and deceptions is true; but remember to follow the coverup, and to connect anything discovered to how such illegalities, and lack of realistic thinking, endanger our national security, and our trust in our government.

"For example, yet another GOP heavy, Senator Chuck Hagel, like U.S. military officers in Iraq, is incensed by Cheney's rosy-eyed assertions that the insurgents there are in their "last throes." Hagel said: "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

"And you think," I said, "that the same approach - concentrating on the illegalities and policies disconnected from reality - can be used with regard to the Administration's policy of torture and violations of the Constitution? And that the American people will be upset by all these misbehaviors to the point of - what? Impeachment?"

"Look at the poll numbers, my friend," ST replied. "The American public is fast giving up on the Iraq War, and want their young soldiers back home. Keep feeding the public more facts about the deteriorating situation there. As for what Bush & Co. are doing to the Constitution, look at the successful House action taking a swipe at one section of the Patriot Act. Bush & Co. wanted the whole act passed, as is, and the GOP-led House refused to go along; the civil rights Right/Left coalition held. In short, even Congress is beginning to sense the Administration's vulnerability in this second term, and has challenged Bush on everything from the Patriot Act to stem-cell research to a veto threat on a highway bill.

"And they might even act on Bush's blatant grab for even more power. Most Americans, for example, do not realize that Bush has been given the legal instruments to rule as a dictator outside the Constitution, and in some instances is doing so, asserting his right to be "above the law." The legal boys in the Administration have asserted that the President, when acting as "commander-in-chief" in "wartime," can take whatever action he deems necessary, at home or abroad. If the President orders it, it's ipso facto legal. Nixon tried that during Watergate, and the Supreme Court shut him down big-time. A year ago, the Supreme Court, in clear language, told Bush that while a President has great leeway during "wartime," he cannot go beyond certain Constitutional boundaries, but Bush just continues to ignore their ruling, and finds new ways to do what he wants to do. Hammer away on that issue!

"Similarly, the Administration told Congress the other day that those suspected of being terrorists can be held, without charge, 'in perpetuity' at prisons not covered by any Constitutional, or Geneva Convention, protections. How would we feel if a foreign government held Americans 'in perpetuity' without ever charging them with any crime?

GETTING TO THE TIPPING POINT

"Under Bush, America is turning into a police-state, including U.S. citizens being disappeared into military prisons, without contact with a lawyer to help them. This includes suspected terrorists moved in and out of U.S. prisons as 'ghosts,' never registered, so that the International Red Cross can make sure they aren't being maltreated. How would we feel if foreign governments treated American prisoners this way? Or if young American men and women were 'rendered' to countries where they would be tortured in the extreme, which the Bush Administration does to foreign prisoners it holds?

"Add all those, and more, together and, at some tipping point, impeachment may suddenly have enough critical-mass momentum behind it - perhaps when corporate execs and worried GOP legislators decide that the guy they've supported all these years has to be cut loose in order for GOP conservatives to continue to win elections, hold power, and make money.

"But," I said, "how to build that critical mass, increase that momentum?"

"Imitate Rove: he never stops being on the offensive. Have your big hitters strike back at Bush & Co. recklessness and incompetence every time they say or do something foolish or dangerous. Keep pointing out with proof how they're destroying our freedoms domestically, and that their military adventures abroad are endangering our vital national interests, and how the two are connected.

"Show how their fealty to America's homegrown Taliban extremists of the fundamentalist right is leading to a theocratic mentality at the top - the Schiavo case, with the Bushies sticking their noses into a highly personal family tragedy, shows how far they're willing to go to legislate 'moral behavior' for everyone. Show how their unholy alliances with large corporations, especially the pharmaceuticals and HMOs, are strangling health care for the middle-class and poor, and jacking up costs way beyond anything reasonable. Demonstrate how, even though their forces already control most of the TV/radio mass-media, they want PBS/NPR also in their fold - and how dangerous it is to permit one party to control the organs of mass-communication. 'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely' and all that.

NOTHING CHANGES UNLESS VOTES ARE HONEST

"Finally, and then I've got to run: fair-minded citizens must come to understand that unless the voting system in this country is taken out of the hands of the GOP corporate giants who control the software that counts the votes, we'll be living in a rigid one-party state for a long, long time. The only way to save our democratic republic is to use paper ballots, hand-counted; many modern countries do it, France and Canada among them, and there's no good reason, other than corruption and power-hunger, not to do it here. You could build up all the winning impeachment momentum you in the runup to the 2006 midterm election, but unless the votes are counted accurately - and are transparently accepted as honest - you might as well stay home.

"So keep pushing back, keep putting their feet to the fire, keep the intensity building. The pressure-cooker steam is building in Bushville, and we can anticipate it will blow sometime in the near future. The only danger is that it will blow all over everyone - in the U.S., in Iraq, in Syria, wherever - and take us all down with them. That's the challenge. Go get 'em!"

And with that, Shallow Throat slid out of the booth, and headed out into the night, at a brisk pace. I took my tape-recorder and headed back to my office, to type up these notes. I found myself smiling while doing so.

Bernard Weiner, formerly a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, has recorded a good many imagined conversations with Shallow Throat*. A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at numerous universities, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers.

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