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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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: