"Shallow Throat" had not contacted me since months before the November 2004
election. I figured that the high-level GOP mole, who formerly had worked at
the White House before moving to another agency, was bummed out and needed
time to reflect.
So receiving ST's coded calls was a good sign. We met in an obscure diner in
Rockville, Md. I could tell Shallow Throat was in bad shape, since my
conservative informant looked pale and depressed and was back to wearing a
wig and wraparound shades.
"I can't describe to you, Bernie, what the atmosphere is like inside the
Administration," said a nervous-sounding ST. "Publicly, they are taking
their electoral 'victory' as confirmation that they don't have to give an
inch, to anyone. It's full speed ahead domestically and abroad. But
privately, they are well aware of how tenuous the situation could become for
them in some areas, which is why they are coming out of the chute with such
full-bore speed and determination. (Observe how they are trying to keep
anyone from getting to the truth of that electoral 'victory,' especially in
"They realize that, as is often the case for 're-elected' administrations,
there is only a brief window of opportunity in the second term to get things
done. So, it's tort and Social Security 'reform' and more Patriot Act laws
domestically, and in foreign policy it's on to getting their way with Syria
"You look terrible," I said. "We can talk about their plans and policies in
a minute. I'm worried about you. How are you holding up?"
INSIDE THE BUSH BUNKER
"Not too well. Like you, I figured that enough voters would have seen
through these ruthless, greedy, power-hungry bastards, and they'd be gone by
now. It wouldn't have mattered to me, an old-time Republican, if the
Democrats were now in power, making their own mistakes. At least, we'd be
working to undo the damage Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft and friends did to
the country and the world over the past four years.
"Instead, I'm still in the belly of a vicious, determined beast, which is
even more paranoid this time out. That's why they've made sure the key
players are totally loyal,
hunkering down in
the political bunker with Bush and Cheney and Rove. Just look at the
ruthless, brazen criminals in that bunker: Rumsfeld & Wolfowitz at Defense,
Rice and Abrams at State, Gonzales at Justice, Goss at CIA, Chertoff at
Homeland Security, Hadley as National Security Adviser, Negroponte the Intel
Czar. They're all dirty, perfect candidates someday for criminal
"Anyway, I guess I'm answering your question by indirection about how I'm
doing. Things are terrible, and disloyalty is simply not permitted. Nor are
any concessions to the real world; it's fantasyland, lies told to themselves
that bear little relation to reality. Instead, it's pretty much like 'You
vill click heels and follow orders, ja? Sieg Heil!' If I were to
get caught spilling my guts to you -- and through you, to your liberal
associates out there -- God help me."
"I appreciate your courage in contacting me," I said. "So you must have
something you really want to talk about."
"You bet. As usual, these Bush guys are over-reaching and, in their
arrogance, not covering their tracks very well. Even with the Congress in
their hands, most of the mass-media whoring for them, and the courts
effectively neutered, the Bushies are vulnerable on several fronts. If the
Democrats only can get their act together and, working in tandem with a lot
of disaffected Republican moderates, take them on frontally, there might be
"Certainly, Reid and Pelosi and Dean are showing some fighting spirit and
seem willing to battle the Bushies' more egregious, extreme policies and
judicial appointments. But they can't always bring their troops along with
them. Look at the capitulation on Condi Rice; what on earth happened to
Leahy, Biden, Obama, Feinstein, Clinton, Feingold and the other so-called
"Look at the shameful Democrat votes on Bush's bill to curtail class-action
suits. They just caved. Disgraceful! You're either an Opposition Party or
you're not; you don't play patty-cake with these Bush guys -- they'll eat
you alive, crush you and grind up your bones. You'd have thought the Dems
might have learned that painful lesson by now.
"The Republicans have clear splits inside the party -- especially, for
example, on Bush's Social Security plan -- but their public face is one of
unity and support for their President. The Democrats need to develop that
kind of party discipline behind their leaders. The only thing that ever
makes the Bush folks back off is facing a concerted, determined opposition
-- especially if it includes a good many moderate Republicans acting in
concert with your Democrat friends."
WHERE DEMS SHOULD ATTACK
"Look," I replied, "the Democrats can't battle the Bush Administration on
every issue, lest they be attacked as total 'obstructionists.' They have to
pick and choose judiciously the issues on which to fight. Which ones would
you suggest they make their stands on?"
"Just follow Rove's lead; he's revealed publicly those issues the
Administration will push for in these first two years of their second term.
Domestically, major 'reform' of Social Security and tort law, and
re-nominating the extremist judges who were turned down last time; and, in
foreign policy, continuing the neo-con strategy of politically restructuring
the Islamic Middle East, by threats and suasion if possible, by military
means if necessary. (Former U.N. weapons inspector
Scott Ritter says
already has approved plans for attacking Iran in early-Summer.)
"The Administration is vulnerable in each of those domestic areas. Not even
most Republicans agree with the Bush plan on Social Security; they'll mouth
the party spin, but they don't want to risk their re-election chances, and
many believe this Social Security plan is reckless nonsense. If the
Democrats hang firm together, and if they can slice off a few more
Republicans from supporting the Bush plan, Rove&Co. will go down to a
flaming and embarrassing defeat. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
"Tort reform will be a bit harder, since the public understands Social
Security and the dangerous and prohibitively expensive fiddling the Bush
Administration wants to do with it. But tort 'reform' -- trying to shield
greedy corporations and malpracticing doctors from being awarded big bucks
by juries for their crimes -- is much more complex, and so there isn't that
Democrat cohesion on the issue, as was the case on the bill restricting the
filing of successful class-action suits.
"Tort 'reform' could be made into a major populist campaign against the Bush
Administration if the Democrat leadership can frame the debate properly --
ordinary people need these lawsuits and awards to keep the powerful honest
-- and maintain party discipline behind them.
"Gonzales will carry on Ashcroft's legacy of expanding central government
power over peoples' lives, by trying to push through Patriot Act 2 bills
that further shred the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Plus, Gonzales
is the same guy who approves of torture and dictatorial rule by the
President. The Dems can stand up and fight on these moves; even a good many
Republicans, from the right and the center, believe that Patriot Act 1 went
too far in certain areas, so maybe a Dem/Libertarian/GOP alliance can be
made to fight the worst of the new bills."
RESISTING BUSH'S MIDEAST WARS
"What about the war, or wars, issue?" I asked. "Even though the public still
indicates it thinks the war in Iraq isn't worth it, the Bushies have taken
heart, asserting that the recent Iraq elections proves it's morally right
that U.S. troops should be there. Are you suggesting that the American
people might not go along with similar military adventures in Iran and
"Given the over-stretched mission of U.S. forces these days, and their
inability to keep and recruit enough troops, and the opposition of the
country to a military draft, it seems clear that the Bush Administration
doesn't want to have to invade another country -- and that they couldn't
depend on the American populace to support such action if they did.
"But the Bush neo-cons are not averse to stirring up opposition internally
to the Iranian mullahs and to young Assad in Syria, and to inserting
covert-ops demolition and assassination squads into those countries, and to
bombing key installations from the air -- or, in the case of Iran's nuclear
plants, if the political heat in this country gets too intense, the neo-cons
would encourage the Israelis to bomb those sites. Bush&Co. are bound and
determined to get and protect that oil, to control the geopolitical
direction of that region for years to come, and to provide Israel some
breathing room from retaliatory attacks.
"But all that will come at a high price in treasure spent and American lives
lost, and there is bound to be (and Iraq is the perfect example) constant
and unremitting incompetence from Rumsfeld in nation-building -- thus
ensuring that more and more terrorists will join the anti-American fight.
"That future scenario can be laid out by the Dems, and they'll find a good
many Republicans of similar mind. Bush is spending $300 billion of our tax
dollars (that's Billion, with a capital B!) for nation-building in Iraq &
Afghanistan -- starving our treasury and social programs of much-needed
funds -- and the result may well be an Islamist government more friendly to
Iran than to America. Good organizing points for a possible political
FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL
"Any other areas of Bush Administration vulnerability?" I asked.
"Follow the money. On environmental issues, the greedy polluters have been
given permission to pillage and plunder our natural resources, national
parks, our air and water. In Iraq and Afghanistan, at least $9 billion
(Billion!) has simply disappeared -- no doubt into corrupt corporate pockets
-- with nobody in the Administration seeming to care in the slightest.
Somebody stole that money; make them, and those crooks in charge,
accountable. Those are our taxes, damn it!
"And there's the way our tax monies have been used by the Bushies to buy
favorable media coverage -- payola for rightwing pundits and journalists,
creating phony "news reports," etc. Follow that cash trail and see where it
comes from and where it winds up.
"And then, of course, there's the 'Jeff Gannon' scandal. Someone high up in
the Administration, either in Scott McClellan's office or even higher -- and
you know who I mean -- moved 'Jeff Gannon' (real name James Guckert) into
the White House press corps, fed him scoops, enlisted him in dirty-tricks
against Dem candidates, and made sure he was always there to throw puffball
questions to McClellan and Bush.
"Apparently, this non-journalist GOP propagandist -- and given his night-job
as a paid male escort for gay men, a potential national security risk --
received his credentials without having been vetted by the FBI and Secret
Service. He even was given access to the White House press room before Talon
News, his ostensible employer, even existed. Who made all that happen for
"I'm not sure Guckert was receiving subsidies directly from the White House
-- it probably was more subtle, his salary and bonuses coming from cutaway
Republican outfits like GOPUSA & Talon News, financed by wealthy Texas GOP
operatives. Guckert, a true believer, probably did it for ideological
reasons and for the White House press-pass prestige. But I'd try to see if
there was a money trail there anyway; there often is. (Who paid Guckert when
he was sliming Daschle in South Dakota, for example? Who was Guckert working
for when he got involved in the Valerie Plame scandal?)
MOLTO DESTRUCTO POLITICS
"The Bushies aren't averse to playing molto destructo against Democrats;
give them a taste of their own medicine. Stick to the high ground, but don't
let them get away with a thing. If Pelosi and Reid and Dean want to play
politics against this crew, they're going to have to mix it up in the
streets; when they win a few victories (Social Security, denying extremist
judges, etc.), the playing field will be a bit more level, and more
rank-and-file Democrats, and moderate Republicans, will find they can have
"But face it. There aren't going to be very many victories at first. These
guys are in control and they're going to run their juggernaut over anything
and anybody that gets in the way -- a hallmark of their
take-the-money-and-power-and-run brand of old-fashioned machine politics.
But in their brazen arrogance and greed and thirst for power, they are
making, and will continue to make, big mistakes, to leave traceable tracks,
to overreach one too many times. At that point, they're ripe for the
plucking. Go get 'em."
And with that, Shallow Throat slid out of the booth, adjusted the shades,
and headed out of the diner. ST seemed happier on the way out. As did I.
Copyright 2005, by Bernard Weiner