By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
"Shallow Throat" looked like a ghost -- exhausted, pallid skin, and, when the wrap-around shades came off, I could see dark circles under the eyes.
The GOP mole high up in the Bush Administration had contacted me through our secret code. Given our numerous conversations* over the past six years, where the inner secrets of Republican strategy were revealed, I hurried to set up a meeting. This one took place in a back room of a pharmacy in a location near Washington, D.C.
"You don't look so hot," I said.
"You should see the other guy," said ST, using the old joke but with a grimace. "I feel like crap because the tenure of these extremists in the White House has just been guaranteed for the next year-and-a-half by your liberal Democrat buddies. They had CheneyBush backed into a corner, on the ropes, reeling, and the Dems walked away."
"Whoa, wait a minute," I interjected, "I'm just as appalled as you are by the craven surrender of the Democratic leadership on the war-funding bill, lobbying reform and the possibility of impeachment hearings. So don't hang that charge around my neck. The progressive base of the party, which I support, has been very active in trying to get Pelosi and Reid and the others to do the right thing on these issues and in denouncing them when they don't."
Shallow Throat thundered a reply: "If you progressives want to get through to the Dem leaders, you'll have to lead them! Right now, they have you by the shorts. They know that regardless of what they do, you liberals have nowhere else to go. You're not going to support the GOP, you're not going to commit suicide by trying to form a third party, so the Bushistas can just run over you, time and time again, convinced that you'll eventually come back to the fold with your money and energy because the Republicans are even worse. Why shouldn't they take you for granted? You make it so easy for them."
NOW IT'S THE DEMS' WAR ALSO
ST scratched at the new wig and continued: "Your guys blew your one best chance to stop this war, or at least to begin to bring it to a close. I could understand the Dems' timidity if the population were evenly divided on the issue of the war and on the need to get our young soldiers out of there ASAP -- but, damn it, that's not the case!
"Nearly 70% of the public agrees that Bush's war strategy is mistaken and will lead to even more deaths and maiming of untold numbers of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. By nearly two-thirds, the public is in support of starting to withdraw our troops soon. In short, your ass was covered! Why on earth would you give in so easily after just one or two tries? You could have let Bush veto the war-funding bill for the second time and sent it back to him again and again, each time carving away a few more wavering Republicans. You could hammer Bush each time as not being willing to bend a bit to 'support the troops'.
"Instead, out of fear of being criticized for 'not supporting the troops' and and for being insufficiently 'patriotic,' you gave away the store, and became, ipso facto, enablers of the Republicans and this slaughter. The blood of young American troops is now on your hands too. Now it's not just Bush's war, but also the Democrats' war! How could your Dem buddies have been so stupid?"
COULD DEMS LOSE WHITE HOUSE IN 2008?
Shallow Throat was breathing heavily after those white-hot denunciations. I passed over my water bottle and let the traditional conservative official take a long swig.
"I agree that they blew this one big time," I said. "I think that the vacationing Senators and Representatives will feel the heat of the public's anger this week when theyt are back home. I suspect they will come back to Washington with more starch in their spines to hold the Bush Administration's feet to the fire in September."
"As a lifelong Republican," said Shallow Throat, "I guess I'm expected to take comfort in how badly the Democrats are bumbling with regard to the race for the White House in 2008. The GOP could lose the House and Senate again but hang onto the Presidency, and that's supposed to make me feel good.
"But, as I've told you many times, Bernie, I am appalled and terrified by the brand of far-right extremists who have hijacked my party. Just looking at the crop of candidates running for the GOP nomination -- not one of them electable who proudly represents those of us in the traditional-conservative middle -- doesn't give me hope that anybody decent will emerge that would change the self-destructive direction of the party. And it's not clear whether the Democrats will come up with anyone significantly better.
"Let's face it, plutocrats in hock to or agreeing with corporate/military-industrial mentalities are in control of most of the leadership of both parties. Granted, the Republican leaders are much more authoritarian and greedy and vicious, but the Democratic leaders, lacking a unifying moral and political theory of governance, aren't all that much better. Almost all of them owe their souls to the company store, as it were."
THERE IS RAGING ANGER OUT THERE
"What I find somewhat optimistic," I countered, "is that the liberal/progressive citizen base of the party is filled with seething anger at the sell-out of their leaders on the war-funding bill; Cindy Sheehan, for one, has had enough and says she's exiting the Democratic Party. These activists will direct their rage right where it needs to go -- to Pelosi and Reid and Emanuel and the whole DLC crew. This Democratic boat will be turned from its present direction. Come September--"
"September is too damn late!" interrupted Shallow Throat. "The Dems have just given the war a long-term lease, at the very least until Bush and Cheney depart the White House in January of 2009. The Dems will just be nibbling around the edges of the policy they've authorized by their cowardly vote approving the war funding."
"So what options are available?" I asked. "Just demonstrating and shouting our anger at these creeps doesn't seem to get us anywhere. Where should we be going?"
"USE THE POWER YOU HAVE"
"Look," said Shallow Throat, "your side still has some leverage. You control the Congress and thus can use the investigative function, subpoena powers, putting witnesses under oath, etc.
"But, damm it, you have these one-day hearings, a lot of fulminating when the Administration witnesses skirt and evade the questions, and then you let them go. If you really want to learn what really happened, you'll have to invite or subpoena them back again and again until you get full, honest answers, threaten them and maybe even cite them for contempt of Congress.
"If necessary, take them to court to get them to supply the documents and copies of e-mails you subpoenaed; establish an impeachment panel and start the early work on Gonzales, Cheney, Bush; inquire how Bush, with last week's secret 'National Security Presidential Directive,' totally cut the Congress out of any say in how the government would be organized in case of an 'emergency' -- he appointed himself sole decider of all matters civil and legislative, including when to declare martial law, and nobody is permitted to override his dictatorial decisions."
"Not sure any investigations along those lines will necessarily lead anywhere, practically speaking," I said. "The Republicans have ways of gumming up the works."
CHANGING THE DYNAMIC
"So what?" Shallow Throat yelled. "At least give the public some truths to hang onto, and some hope that the Democrats are trying to do something rather than just rolling on their backs in total submission to the snarling tactics of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and their friends. Besides, you need to keep those guys on the defensive every day of every week. Don't let them get traction, momentum. Force them to play defense, scatter their energies, let them sweat for a change.
"And I suggest you get right on it, since the HardRight extremists running this Administration and the GOP in Congress have all sorts of bad news up their sleeves, including another major escalation of the Iraq War, aiding in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and military installations, and clamping down even more on Americans' constitutional rights, including the possible declaration of martial law."
"Now you're really scaring me," I said.
THE FRIGHTENING POSSIBILITIES
"Good! You'd better be frightened," said Shallow Throat. "If the Republicans hold the White House in the 2008 election, we could have a kind of civil war inside the military right here in this country.
"When General Petraeus tells the Congress in September that the U.S. is making 'clear progress' with the surge but needs another ten thousand troops and six months more time to turn around the situation in Iraq, there will be a political insurrection inside the Pentagon, with mass resignations of the highest-ranking officers in the military, conservative men and women willing to take on the Bush Administration and those officers who choose to stay and obey these reckless, likely illegal Administration orders. These officers of conscience will not acquiesce to more self-destructive madness, more wrecking of an already stressed, stretched-too-thin military and National Guard; more shredding of the Con--"
I interrupted: "Are you suggesting the possibility of an armed confrontation between the two sides, or just a massive public airing of different points of view about U.S. military policy around the world? Is this what you meant by the possibility of martial law?"
"Hear what I'm saying. There are growing rumbles from both inside and outside the government: If the situation after September looks hopeless in preserving the Constitution and re-establishing a sane foreign/military policy, and if key nations decide to retaliate against America by calling-in the U.S. debt bonds they hold (thus ruining the United States economy), nothing will be off the table inside this country," said Shallow Throat, and quickly left the room.
I sat there stunned, unable to move, petrified by fear. #
*Bernard Weiner, a playwright/poet, has had numerous conversations ( http://www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm#shallow ) with the Shallow Throat character over the past six years. Holder of a Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for the San Francisco Chronicle as a writer/editor for two decades, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: crisispapers@comcast. net .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 5/29/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)