Bernard Weiner writes: "With all the complicated scandals and maneuverings in the White House, it was time to seek out 'Shallow Throat' again. The disenchanted Republican mole, located high in the Bush Administration, previously had supplied us with the transcript of an inner-Cabinet meeting, which revealed how Bush&Co. had decided in the Summer of 2001 to take advantage of the terrorist attacks they knew were coming, and which did arrive on 9/11."
With all the complicated scandals and maneuverings in the White House, it was time to seek out "Shallow Throat" again.
The disenchanted Republican mole, located high in the Bush Administration, previously had supplied us with the transcript of an inner-Cabinet meeting, which revealed how Bush&Co. had decided in the Summer of 2001 to take advantage of the terrorist attacks they knew were coming, and which did arrive on 9/11. ( See "The 'Shallow Throat' Documents: A Pre-9/11 Scenario," published in February )
I needed the reactions of "Shallow Throat" as to whether we were on the right track in our opposition tactics to Bush&Co. I suspected that this mole -- who might well be agitated as the Administration veered even further into HardRight territory -- would be willing to decipher for us what was going on, and what is about to go down. And would keep us pointed where we needed to go.
I made the coded call. Later that evening, "Shallow Throat," wearing a wig and shades, joined me at a loud club, and, with the music blaring, we talked. What follows is the conversation transcribed from tape.
"I don't understand," I started out. "With Bush&Co. under all this heat about pre-9/11 knowledge, Enron, Halliburton, anthrax, neo-imperialism overseas, courts ruling against them, our allies openly disagreeing with their policies, and all the rest, they're behaving as if they don't care. Indeed, they're proceeding to carry out even more outrageous moves, such as enlarging the government's capabilities to spy on American citizens whenever and however it wants."
"You namby-pamby liberals still don't get it," said ST. "They want it ALL. They're going to push you, bully you, threaten you, lie to you, ruin you until someone pushes them back and says enough. Trying to accommodate them, as the Democrat party leaders tend to do, just encourages them. It justifies their by-the-throat, bullyboy strategy. All they respect is power. Present them with a unified opposition, which threatens them with painful consequences, and they'll back off, or, more likely, first try another way to get around you. But at least you'll have slowed them down and put some fear into them."
"Aren't they fearful about the current Congressional hearings on pre-9/11 knowledge?"
"Sure, they're worried, but figure as long as the hearings are in the political arena, they have enough leverage to lean on key Senators and House members to make sure nothing really explosive comes out; in addition, as you're witnessing, they are using their distraction-strategy, stories designed to deflect attention elsewhere. What they're really terrified of is a truly independent blue-ribbon commission composed of analysts and academics and folks of integrity that they might not be able to control or threaten. In short, they're frightened about the pre-9/11 truth coming out."
"What else gives them the willies?" I asked.
"They're nervous about hearings and investigations that might start connecting dots."
"Enron, Halliburton, anthrax, pipelines, influence-peddling, pre-9/11 machinations, interesting things happening in Florida, etc. If American citizens are permitted to peek under those rocks, they're going to find some horrifying surprises, and their reactions might not be pretty."
"You mean, we'll find out that these individual scandals can be connected in some way to Bush&Co.?"
"It's a complex web these guys weave," said ST.
[ At this point, a waitress came over to check on our drinks. "Shallow Throat" seemed a bit nervous as she took our orders. ]
"But how to enter this web and figure out the threads?", I continued.
"It's all there. Follow the greed. That's their vulnerable spot. Greedy for money, greedy for power, greedy for control. But they're sloppy at times; they've left clues around in their arrogance, thinking nobody would have the courage to challenge them because everyone knows they play for keeps."
I countered with: "But some Democrats -- and even some Republicans, like Sensenbrenner, Safire, Shelby, Specter, some moderates in the House and Senate -- are starting to develop spines, and are beginning to raise potentially embarrassing questions. Isn't this a hopeful sign?"
"The Administration gets whacked by some embarrassing revelation or another, a few of the more courageous stick their necks out a bit -- but quickly return to their hiding places when their patriotism is questioned or when the Administration heavies lean on them. There's no bloody follow-through! The only way you're going to get these guys is to build up oppositional momentum that never lets up. The far-rightists in the Administration and Congress are in this fight to the end; they figure this is their last, best shot to control American politics for the next decade or two. That's why they're so tough and mean; they fight dirty, and they know the other side, your side, doesn't want to get into that gutter."
"You're saying we should get down there and duke it out with them in the mud?"
"Not at all. The moral high ground is still available. I'm talking about momentum here. Each time the Bush Administration gets hit, don't take the distraction-bait (like the "reorganization" of the anti-terrorist program, which still leaves the real bad apples outside the new Cabinet department, to be overseen by the Ashcrofts & Rumsfelds of the Administration); don't back off, keep piling on more information, more revelations, more embarrassing questions. Spend the time to construct the political coalitions you're going to need; force the media to do significant investigative reporting; put unrelenting pressure on Congress."
"But there's no public clamor out there for bucking Bush on the 'war on terrorism' and some of these other things," I said, with a discouraged tone to my voice. "That's why the Democrats are so timid. That, and betting that Bush and the GOP are more vulnerable on non-war-related issues like health care, prescription-drug coverage, job creation, the economy, environmental pollution, and the like. You want them to confront Bush on war policy and risk being seen as insufficiently 'anti-terrorist' just prior to the upcoming November elections?"
"Look, it's not that difficult to figure out. Your side has the domestic issues the American people care about. And the Bush Administration is vulnerable on pre-9/11 knowledge -- for chrissakes, nearly 4000 people died while Bush and his cohorts did nothing in the face of all the warnings! -- and they're vulnerable on incompetent post-9/11 policy (global warming, Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, U.S. troops heading for combat all over the world, etc.)."
"So," I asked, "where's the entryway to this vulnerability?"
"Forget Bush; people realize he's a doltish front man and almost have pity for him as he stumbles around trying to act like a president. Focus on Cheney. He's in charge of so much and his ethical/financial vulnerabilities are massive. Ashcroft is a neofascist thug; even many of his GOP friends know he's gone way over the line in wrecking the Constitution and giving the federal government far too much power, which invariably will get abused. Get the fearful, anti-big-government conservatives on your side, at least as silent partners, and go get Ashcroft. He's ripe for the picking. Those are two good starters. If you do your job right, you might just rope in Karl Rove, too."
"What else can be done?"
"Get Colin Powell to resign. He's come this close a few times, especially when he got hung out to dry while they had him heading -- 'with all deliberate speed' -- to the Middle East. He knows what's going on inside the Bush White House and how rotten it all is; he just needs one more example of how far beyond the political pale the Bush forces are willing to go, and, with some outside support, he's out of there. Give him that support. He's their halfway moral cover; get him out and make him feel better about himself. Maybe Christie Whitman will walk with him."
"Again, it's all logical: Defeat as many Republicans as you can in November. Good ones, bad ones, doesn't matter; take the House away from the far-right conservatives and deny a Senate comeback to the GOP. When that happens, the Democrats -- and a lot more moderate and decent conservative Republicans than you can imagine -- won't be so fearful anymore and the necessary cleansing actions can start: serious investigations, pointed questions, true opposition. You do that -- even though it hurts my own party (if the GOP hadn't been hijacked by American jihadists, I wouldn't be here talking to you) -- and I guarantee you that the Bush Administration will be on the slippery road to an inglorious end."
[ Just then, a young fellow, wearing earphones, seemingly moving to the music, came by our booth and seemed to want to hang around. We stared him down and he left. ]
"You seem flustered by that. You think he was trying to overhear?"
"The atmosphere in the Administration is as bad as it's ever been. If you're not with them 150%, you're with the enemy. I have to watch my every move, everything I say. I don't believe anybody suspects me, yet -- my position gives me pretty good cover -- but anything could happen. I think I'd better take off now."
Shallow Throat squeezed out of the booth and started off, then turned and said: "Remember: follow the greed."
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco Chronicle's theater critic for nearly 20 years. Holder of a Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at Western Washington University and San Diego State University, and has published other satires and investigative articles in The Nation, Village Voice, The Progressive, Northwest Passage and widely on the internet.