Democratic Underground

A Peek Inside Bush's Personal Diary: Notes on the War
November 27, 2001
by Bernard Weiner

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Dear Diary:

Well, things are a bit more under control, so, finally, a chance to write again in my journal.

The main question I keep asking myself is: “How did I get to be so lucky?”First, there was the election; well, sure, I had a bit of help from Jeb and Katherine and the Supremes in strong-arming my way in. But then things went badly wrong.

People saw the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face and knew right away what I already knew: I wasn’t cut out for this job. And I wasn’t about to get much of our conservative agenda through the Congress, especially after Jeffords jumped ship (we blew that one badly!) and the Dems took charge of the Senate. Those were hard times, and I can’t thank Laura, and Dick, enough for bucking me up.

And then, suddenly, bingo! Bin Laden’s boys gave me the green light to go full-speed into the presidency, and to pass whatever Armey and DeLay and the guys wanted. As long as we dressed it up a bit in terms of “national security” and “homeland defense,” nobody was going to risk looking “unpatriotic” by voting against me, Mr. 90% approval rating.

Dick and Jim were right: Take everything, take no prisoners. If you have to back up, just SEEM to be giving in. Go around and get what you want another way later -- executive order, whatever. Even Dick, and Mom and Dad, seem impressed with how quickly I’ve learned. And everyone keeps complimenting me on how I Look Presidential these days. (And I made a good pitch, too, at the World Series!)

I learned something from Bubba Bill. He always sensed when he was going to get some opposition in the Congress on an issue and immediately started compromising to get something, anything, passed. What a wimp! The tactic I’ve learned is to ask for the moon and not give up until somebody says No Way! and stops me. What surprises the hell out of me is that nobody’s even trying to stop me, except for a few way-out-there lefties that hardly anyone cares about anyway.

I expected all sorts of shit to hit the fan, for example, when I drastically altered six amendments to the Constitution to give our police & justice forces all sorts of powers they never had before. I had Ashcroft abrogate attorney-client privilege, make it easy to break into someone’s home and computer, hold suspects indefinitely, round up 5000 Middle Eastern Muslims for “questioning,” etc., etc., and then I ordered military tribunals for terrorists. Think of it: During the campaign, I was the conservative who supported a less-powerful government, and states’ rights. Even my big-government-is-the-enemy GOP buddies are looking the other way on this one, with a few notable exceptions (note: Don’t let that asshole Safire into the White House anymore!). This war cover is great!

Anybody makes noise and I just quote Lincoln and FDR on them, other presidents who curtailed all sorts of rights. Got to be careful, though, not to go too far quoting those guys, or someone’s going to notice that those two presidents were allowed to get away with their power-reaching because the country officially was in a declared State of War. All I’ve got is a resolution supporting my war on terrorism -- what a few wags call my Gulf of Tonkin resolution -- which we forced through in the immediate aftermath of September 11, when the country was operating on fear and adrenaline.)

And folks are getting the message out there: It doesn’t pay to be too critical of the war effort. A few of us leaders (me, Dick, Lynne, Ashcroft, et al.) just make the “you’re with us or with the terrorists” pitch; we don’t have to urge censorship, self-censorship, vigilantism, denunciations. All of that just unfolds naturally, and people just shut up by themselves and take actions against college professors, journalists, other lefties, et al.

Along those lines, the funniest thing is watching the Democrats roll over and play dead. Nobody wants to be “soft on terrorism,” so I just keep rolling them. They keep waiting for the country’s attitude to shift, so they can go back to being their usual namby-pamby liberal selves on the war and civil liberties and everything else. But, hot damn, the war is going well, and I’ve got them stuck in their me-too gear. (Down home, we have a word for that kind of weak liberal: “roadkill.”)

Well, at least the war SEEMS to be going well. We keep putting out these optimistic assessments -- even the war correspondents have learned their lesson and just report what we tell them -- and few dig deeper. As long as we keep the terrorists’ network disrupted and the damage slight in the homeland, we can do what we want.

True, I don’t know what the Russians are really up to, or the Chinese for that matter, and these Afghans are little more than feuding warlords who just want to fight each other as they’ve been doing forever, and the Al Qaeda and their foreign soldiers are tougher than we thought, and maybe India and Pakistan will go to war, and the Israelis and Palestinians likewise. But none of this seems to matter. All American citizens care about is that “we’re winning!” (sure hope our military planners know what they’re doing!), and there’s been little major terrorist action in the homeland since 9/11.

What the population doesn’t know certainly won’t hurt them. We’re keeping up morale.

Sure would help, though, if we could find bin Laden and his boys, or better yet find the remains of their bodies, Texas barbecue-style. My ratings would shoot over 100%, and I’d be guaranteed a GOP Congress in 2002 and another term in 2004. Don’t want it to happen too soon, though; we’re not quite ready yet to go after Saddam. We’ve got to soften up acceptance on that one first, abroad of course but here at home for sure. (Note: Get Powell back on board!) But I don’t think it’ll be too difficult; people want to support my policy, either out of conviction or because of the “or else” I make sure to throw into the mix. In short, I can do pretty much what I want.

Just for kicks, I’m going to try to get Congress to rescind the Constitutional amendment limiting the Presidency to two terms. I want to see if anyone will seriously object. Probably not.

Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco Chronicle’s theater critic for nearly 20 years