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"Shallow Throat" on Nov. Vote:
It's Now or Never


By Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers


August 8, 2006


I needed to talk to "Shallow Throat," to get some perspective on the upcoming mid-term election, now 90 days away.

The GOP mole, a high-ranking official in the Bush Administration, was on vacation, but I knew the private cell-phone number, and we arranged to meet at an out-of-the-way cove along the Connecticut shore. It was very hot, even at the beach.

Per usual, Shallow Throat wasn't happy: "I can't believe your Democrat friends. They've got issues staring them in the face with which they can beat the GOP candidates over the head, and yet, by and large, they still appear disorganized, timid, afraid to deal forthrightly with what's on most voters' minds: the Iraq catastrophe, Bush's renewed attack on Social Security, the huge trillion-dollar deficits that are stagnating the economy and hurting the middle class, the lack of real homeland security, the demonstrated incompetency of this Administration, and on and on.

"It boggles my mind. With less than three months to go before midterm Voting Day, there still is no massive national campaign to make this election a referendum on the Bush Administration! Polls keep demonstrating that the American people are way ahead of the politicians: They see Bush as a failure as president and are ready to change the makeup of the House and maybe even the Senate; in short, they see this election as a chance to express their no-confidence vote in the corrupt, greedy, power-hungry Republicans.

"But the Democrats, dazed and confused, refuse to unite and mount a vibrant national campaign with which to connect, and shape, that public discontent. The Dems seem incapable of going for the jugular. Instead, they're running individual races in individual districts, mostly on local issues.

"Do you Democrats still have your death wish? Can't you see that this may be your last chance to take the country away from the extremists that have hijacked my party and to start moving America back to the rational center?"

"SIX FOR '06" IS MISSING IN ACTION

I countered: "But the Democrats have started to move in that direction with their 'Six for '06" campaign, the six major issues as their doable platform to run on. They--"

Shallow Throat interrupted: "Do you know any of your friends or neighbors that are even aware of this feeble exercise? Where's the money behind this campaign? Where's the publicity, the daily pounding of those talking points into the public arena? Where are the high-level leaders and speakers touring the country? Where are the network and cable ads? To me, it looks like your Dem friends are counting on popular revulsion against Bush to do the work for them, so they won't have to actually say something that could backfire on them later. They think the polls showing a potential Dem sweep will do the job for them, that they can sit back on their butts and watch the Republicans implode."

"Well," I said, "what would you have those national TV ads focus on, for example?"

"Let's just take the most obvious one," said ST, dabbing on a bit more sunscreen. "The American people as a whole, and most importantly the generals and colonels inside the Pentagon, have made their judgment about the Iraq War: It was a bad mistake, built on false information and outright lies; it's unwinnable; it's time to develop a plan for getting us out of there. Why can't your liberal friends devise a united position built around what the American people already have decided? Are the Dems lazy? Afraid of being accused of being 'unpatriotic' and 'not supporting the troops'? Wanting to see if Murtha survives his Swift-Boat sliming before they organize themselves? Waiting to see how badly Lieberman gets his ass kicked before they move? Waiting for MoveOn to make exiting from Iraq a major issue?"

THEFT AT THE POLLS

"Then there's the other issue that the Democrats are avoiding as if it's toxic: electoral integrity. Rove for the past three elections -- in 2000, 2002, and 2004 -- has orchestrated dirty, corrupt campaigns, and has stolen elections in the process, and yet the Democratic Party has said nary a word in official objection. As usual, because they know the American people support their issues more than they do the Republican issues, they think that automatically transfers to the ballots as counted.

"But electoral-integrity experts have demonstrated overwhelmingly that those elections were fiddled with and manipulated to guarantee Republican victories in the various states. Hundreds of thousands of likely Democratic voters in many states, mostly in minority districts, were kicked off the precinct rolls in advance; even if some of them ever got to vote, they were often given provisional ballots, which tended not to get counted.

"Computer voting machines, either by malfunction or deliberate manipulation, often kicked Democrat votes over to the Republican candidates. Republican districts had many working voting machines; Democrat districts had few machines available, and many of those weren't working. In 2004 Ohio, for example, this meant that working people had to stand in lines for up to 10 hours to vote; many gave up and went back to their jobs. Black voters in urban areas were warned that if they had any unpaid parking tickets, they'd be arrested when they showed up at the polling stations, etc. etc.

"Did the Democrats, as a party, register any official objections? Nope. It was left to mavericks like Rep. John Conyers to convene unofficial hearings and issue an unofficial final report on the electoral crimes carried out. The one person who could have made this a major issue, the Dems' 2004 Presidential candidate, simply conceded early and disappeared from the scene of the crime. Unconscionable! And Kerry now wants to run again, as if his activist base will ever forgive him for his cowardice on this issue."

"But," I responded, "various states have begun examining the voting procedures and forcing reforms."

ELECTORAL SYSTEM IS F.U.B.A.R.

"God, no wonder you liberals keep getting rolled! You're in dreamland. Wake up and smell the knives, my friend," said Shallow Throat, opening a Dos Equis from a cooler. "First of all, most states will conduct their elections in November in pretty much the same way as they have for the past three. Second, in terms of voting processes, it's true that there are a few states where citizen action and lawsuits have forced the authorities to examine the built-in flaws and dangers of computer voting, but most officials are operating out of ignorance and tend to accept what the computer-machine companies tell them.

"Third, it's been demonstrated time and time again that those machines are simple to enter and re-program, without leaving any trace, but only a few states have mandated more random testing and demanded verified voting receipts for possible recounts. And speaking of counting, the votes are tabulated, usually away from public view, on computers manufactured by the same Republican corporations that make the voting machines.

"In short, the voting system is genuinely FUBAR, just the way Rove wants it. And, even if there were major campaigns in the states to fix the system -- and by and large there are only a few serious ones -- the reforms won't be in place by November. Which suggests that the Republicans in 2006 could fiddle with results in just enough House or Senate races to keep the Democrats in their current minority cages."

"You seem so pessimistic," I countered, "when all the polls and surveys indicate a probable sweep of Democrats back into power in the House, and a shot at taking the Senate as well. Doesn't that count for anything?"

GET READY FOR ROVE'S SURPRISES

"Look," said ST, adjusting the umbrella for more shade, "the will of the American people has been violated regularly for six years. What makes you think Rove and his minions won't do everything once again to stay in power -- and, by extension, out of the federal slammer? They effectively control the three branches of government, the mainstream media, and the election system. They're firing up the fear machine as we speak, to make sure their fundamentalist-Christian base shows up at on Election Day in huge numbers, along with others lured to vote Republican on hyped-up 'social conservative' issues like abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, terrorism, and so on, as well as admonitions to 'stay the course' in Iraq and to support virtually everything that Israel does in the region.

"If Democrats think the election is a lock," said ST, "not only are they gravely mistaken, they are downright stupid as well. With Rove in charge, the possibility of the fix being in can't be ignored. The Democrats will have to win so overwhelmingly in key races that the Republicans won't even dare try fiddling with the results. Plus, the Dems are going to have to make sure exit-polling takes place everywhere, as another brake on Republican shenanigans. And they should have attorneys in every state and major contested districts prepared to go into court for judicial oversight of corrupt voting and vote-counting practices."

"Anything else in your glass-half-empty view?" I asked.

"Yes," said ST. "Your Democrat colleagues have got to be prepared to deal with the inevitable pre-election surprises -- say, war with Iran and/or Syria, all that rally-'round-the-president-during-wartime spin, or an announcement of a promised large 'withdrawal of American troops' from Iraq, or even a major 'terrorist attack' inside the United States. I'm not saying these things definitely will occur, but given the past history of Rove and friends, they are not outside the realm of possibility. These guys are desperate and will do anything to stay in power. Be prepared. And get your liberal friends to get the stick out from -- just tell them to get moving ASAP."

And with that, Shallow Throat threw down the towel, and raced into the water. I stood there, sweat dripping down my sides; I wasn't sure if it was from the temperature or from fear.


Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner

 


Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, has had numerous conversations with the Shallow Throat character over the past few years. A Ph.D. in government & international relations, Weiner has taught at universities in Washington and California, worked as a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: crisispapers@comcast.net  .

 


Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances