Bernard Weiner: Arrogance Leads To Bush's Undoing

Published: Fri 13 Dec 2002 11:15 AM
"Shallow Throat": Bush Arrogance Will Lead to Their Undoing
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
The last time "Shallow Throat" and I talked, at a dimly-lit D.C. suburban tavern several months before the midterm election, the highly-placed GOP mole within the Bush Administration was extremely nervous about being discovered. This time, there was no face-to-face meeting -- that's how frightened Shallow Throat was. On this night, we communicated in low voices over public phones in a major city's train station, 15 feet apart from each other.
I didn't even have a chance to ask a question before the angry monologue hissed into my ear.
"In our meetings this year, I've passed on various insights into how Bush work, and what to do to stop them. Your Democrat friends took none of that advice and wound up with their heads in their laps on November 5th. Instead of confronting Bush directly on the issues they're most vulnerable on -- greed, corruption, the environment, extremism, big-brother government, and so on -- your Democrats, not wanting to be called 'unpatriotic' or 'soft on terrorism,' caved on every issue. And you lost the election anyway, so what good did all that timidity do?"
"I know all that negative stuff already," I said. "Don't you have any positive bone you can throw my way?"
"It's a question of learning and not-learning. The Democrats, at least in the House, seem to have learned something from the election results, and now are more willing to change and stand up for their party's traditional principles; the Senate is another matter, with too many presidential ambitions getting in the way of true oppositional politics.
"The saving grace is that Bush didn't learn a damn thing and are behaving even more arrogantly, as if they'd been swept into power with a huge mandate and can do whatever the hell they want. Not even Mary Landrieu's victory over them in Louisiana is giving them pause. They'll keep pushing into the vacuum of power -- in American politics, while you Dems pick yourselves off the floor, and across the globe, while there's no other Superpower to stop them -- until somebody stands up to them with comparable power. They don't believe they can be stopped."
"But nobody does have that comparable power," I said. "And you say that's one of their vulnerable points?"
"Bush have the reins of power, but they don't have moral authority. People get out of their way because they're frightened of them, not because they believe in the rightness of their cause. Inside the U.S., people are scared and insecure, still reeling from 9/11, and the Bushies expertly have played Johnny-one-note on that theme. If you and your friends are going to block them, you've got to assuage the fears of the population, you've got to be the party of EFFECTIVE anti-terrorism, without all the police-state tactics. There are bad guys out there anxious to do us harm, and the Dems have to convince people that they will deal strongly with the terrorists but without turning this country into a militarist nightmare.
"You've also got to go after Bush where they are most vulnerable. In addition to policy fights, where the Dems could gain the moral high ground -- prescription-drug coverage, extremist judges being nominated, Medicaire, education, health-care reforms, Bush's giveaways to environmental polluters, alternative fuels, etc., etc. -- there are so many scandals dangling on the trees out there, just waiting to be harvested. Take your pick: Harken and Bush, Kenny Lay and Bush, Halliburton and Cheney, Cheney and energy policy, Tom White & Enron, pre-9/11 knowledge and the coverup, Venezuela, the segregationist underlay of some Southern GOP leaders, and on and on."
"But," I replied, "the Republicans control Congress; there aren't going to be any meaningful investigations, subpoenas and all the rest -- and Mr. Secrets, Kissinger, is in charge of the so-called 'independent' 9/11 commission."
"The Dems in Congress have to be like bulldogs on these matters and, if necessary, begin their own investigations in alliance with respected, non-partisan outside groups. And the Dems have to lean on the members of the 9/11 commission to not permit Kisssinger to whitewash anything. And they have to try to get moderate GOP senators -- McCain, Spectre, Snowe, Collins, Chaffee -- to stand up and demand the truth. Maybe your friends can even get them to defect when they see how far beyond the moral pale Bush are willing to go -- the recent revelations that Bush is willing to nuke countries pre-emptively might wake them up. There's no shortage of horrifying or embarrassing issues to work on."
"What about hanky-panky in the touch-screen computer voting results from the November election?"
There was a long silence. Finally, Shallow Throat said: "I don't know anything directly about that. If it was done, it was done from the highest Rove echelons in the White House and kept utterly secret within that small group. The only thing I can point to is the feeling of certainty in the White House in the final weeks that they had the election securely in hand in the key states -- even though the polls indicated otherwise -- and thus could fee l safe sending Bush out on the hustings in the key states to make him look good.
"True, the companies that control the software for those machines are Republican supporters, but don't pin your hopes on finding anything on that issue. Concentrate on how and why your Democrat friends lost the election, and figure out ways to correct that situation in terms of policies. But make sure future elections have a fail-safe paper trail, so that votes can be double-checked, and have your own exit-pollers out there. I would have thought you guys would have learned not to take election vote-counting for granted after what happened to you in 2000; the Bush forces had two years to figure out how to work the system more subtly. Get on it!"
"The last time we talked, a few months before the November election," I said, "you seemed so discouraged, almost willing to resign in disgust at what your fellow Republicans were doing. I'm guessing things haven't changed."
"I've changed," said Shallow Throat. "The bloodthirst in the White House for war and domination around the globe is almost palpable, and it sickens me. The move domestically toward more and more police-state powers is rushing forward daily, and it frightens me. I've hung in there as long as I can, because I was able to help alter or slow down some of the more egregious policies, but those days are coming to an end. Those few of us with moral qualms about what's being done are more and more discouraged. I'll be leaving shortly. What's left of my soul requires it. If I stay much longer, I'll be sucked into the vortex of greed and power-hunger that is the central core of the Bush Administration -- that same core that will be their ultimate undoing."
"What will you do?" I asked.
"I'll follow the example of other women and men of courage who have left rotten enterprises in the government and corporations and unions. I love my country and the institutions set up by our founding fathers, and I will speak up and work toward the day when those extremists who have hijacked my party will be revealed for what they are and be removed from the offices they hold and are besmirching.
"The cracks already are starting to grow. True conservatives, appalled at what Bush and Ashroft are doing to the Constitutional guarantees of due process, and at the establishment of huge, Big Brother-type information-gathering agencies, are starting to rebel, from both inside and outside the Administration. I may try to be a bridge between the civil libertarians and my fellow conservative Republicans -- who are worried that our party has gone way too far to the extreme right -- to bring our country back toward the middle.
"As a lifelong Republican, I can't, and won't, join the Democrat party. But I may choose to support the anti-war groups that are opposed not only to the coming war with Iraq but to the imperial tendencies of the Bush Administration. I never thought I'd hear myself say those words, but so far has Bush moved the government to the outer fringes of morality and foreign policy respectability that I have no choice. And, now that the conglomerates control the major newspapers and TV networks, I will support the last truly free press in America -- the internet -- and work toward trying to establish a more objective media, maybe even founding our own TV network, one beholden to no party or faction."
"What's your gut tell you about our chances of success?" I asked.
"Look, the HardRightists worked like beavers, openly and covertly, for nearly two decades to get where they are. They've finally got all the reins of power in their hands and aren't going to give up easily. In the short run, you're going to get your asses handed to you; in the long run, those guys are gone. The Amerian people may get taken in by fear-mongering and lies for a while, but, in the end, they don't react well to bullies and hypocrites. When the cracks begin to widen more, and they will as Bush keep pushing their extremist domestic and foreign policies, you're going to see the American people turn very quickly against their over-reaching rulers.
"I can't tell you when that will be; it could be as early as 2004, or even sooner if the unraveling continues -- or it could take a decade of hard work to get the job done. But, rest assured, that day will come."
We had been on the phones for quite a while, and there were folks lined up outside our booths. Shallow Throat spotted someone who looked suspicious, hung up immediately, and walked quickly out of the station. When my knees stopped knocking, I did the same, not looking back over my shoulder.#
- Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., is co-editor of the progressive political website The Crisis Papers (, where this article first appeared. He has taught politics & international relations at various universities, and was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

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