GOP Elders Take That Long Walk to the White House:
By Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers
January 30, 2007
(Editor's Note: The following transcript was slipped into The Crisis
Papers' mail-slot last night. It's not clear whether the conversation
recorded is supposed to have already happened, or whether this is a
presentment of a future such meeting. Either way, it has the ring of
President Bush: I think I know why you're here. But it doesn't
stop my enjoyment from seeing all my Republican friends again.
Sen. Lugar: And we're so happy that you recognize that we come
here as friends.
Vice President Cheney: Just get on with it.
Sen. Warner: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. We come here,
reluctantly, representing the elders of our party, to urge you either to
re-think and cancel your "surge" plan for Iraq or to resign your
Sen. Grassley: As you know, Republicans in the Congress are
divided on the surge strategy. But we are united on wanting to
re-position our party for taking back the House and Senate -- and, we
hope, White House as well -- in 2008. We got our backsides handed to us
in 2006 because of the war. We don't stand a chance for any electoral
victories if the Iraq War continues to deteriorate and more and more
young soldiers are sent there to fight and die. That's the simple
reality of the situation.
Sen. Domenici: I'm sure you're aware that your approval ratings
are just about as low as any President and Vice President have ever
received. In addition, the country has acknowledged in the 2006
elections and in poll after poll ever since then that it wants the U.S.
out of Iraq. In short, your handling of the war does not stand in the
public's favor. It is impossible to fight a war of this magnitude when
the public is against it, when not even the Congress is behind it, and
when not even many in the military leadership are behind it.
Cheney: You guys listen and listen good. We don't care what polls
you wimps read; you've been pussywhipped by Pelosi and the new Democrat
majority into wavering in your support for the nation's business in
Iraq. You think you have equal power with the Executive Branch; don't
kid yourself. You can rant all you want, but we continue to rule from
the White House; we control the military and the Department of Justice
and the court system -- and, let me remind you, of the U.S. attorneys,
who now are beholden to us. Many of those U.S. attorneys are in your
states and might just want to take a look at your financial activities.
You can pass all the non-binding resolutions you want, or even try to
cut the funding for the war. We control the military, so to hell with
Bush: Let's calm down a bit. You believe that the Republican
Party will remain in the minority for at least another election cycle
because of our Iraq and Iran initiatives. I understand you may feel this
way. But I'm the President. I am the President! I have to think
long-ranger than you, beyond what is popular, and go with my gut about
what's in America's long-term national interest. If we don't turn the
corner on Iraq, we endanger our society, the entire Middle East, the
terrorists will come get us here, and--
Sen. Bennett: Yes, we all know the talking points, sir. Whether
any of them are true or not doesn't even matter any more. So many of our
fellow senators and House members -- and generals, and the public at
large -- believe there is no way that a surge of 20,000 troops will
reverse a situation that over nearly four years has been allowed to spin
so out of control, into a sectarian civil war of unbelievable brutality.
Many feel your surge plan, which puts our forces in between the warring
Shia and Sunni militias and death-squads, paints bullseyes on our
troops. Better to cut our losses and get out now, rather than have to
face the voters in 2008 with another thousand or so of our brave young
men and women dead or maimed. The voters will remember that we could
have pulled them out two years earlier, and that it was the Democrats
who were urging that quick exit. The Republicans would be wiped out.
Cheney: Is there any other manure you want to spread around the
Bush: We will not change our policies in Iraq and we will not
resign. We are in office for two full terms. We still control the true
levers of power: the military, the law, the courts, the Constitution,
and much of the mass-media. If the Democrats want to try to impeach us,
let them go ahead. The American people will see it for what it is:
payback for what our side did to Clinton. It will be up to you to stop
such destructive nonsense against the Presidency.
Sen. Shelby: Just to keep the record straight: The presidency and
the President are not the same, "the nation's business" and your
business are not necessarily the same. The country is angry at you and
your policies, Mr. President, not with the presidency or the nation.
Bush: I represent the nation. I am the Representer that counts, I
am the Decider. That's the way the system operates. 535 people cannot
run the country. 300 million citizens cannot run the country. The Leader
does it. I take the hits. I have put new military leadership in Iraq, I
have the plan. Let's give it a chance to work -- at least through the
election of 2008. If it fails, the new President can devise a way to get
out gracefully or to retreat in haste. And we can shift responsibility
for the defeat from the Republicans to the Iraqi government, which
didn't fulfill its commitments, and to the Democrats, who didn't support
the war effort. I hope you can agree to give our policy time to achieve
success, or, if not that, at least delay the day of reckoning until
Rep. John Boenher: We think it's clear that the American public
will not tolerate a cynical policy that lets its sons and daughters and
husbands and wives die for two more years for a plan that, from the
outset, offers little hope of success, certainly not within that time
period. It's too little and too late, Mr. President.
Cheney: And you're too late; the troops already have started
surging into Baghdad and tens of thousands are on their way. You stupid,
weak-assed cowards! Fuck you all!
Warner: There is no call for that sort of language, sir. We came
here in good faith, Mr. President, speaking on behalf of the Republican
Party in Congress, hoping you would seriously consider what we had to
suggest. Your outright refusal to even stop for a moment and consider
what is best for the country, for the party, and for our chances of
regaining power and implementing many of your policies, leaves us no
choice but to inform you that the resolution to begin impeachment
hearings will be a bipartisan one. With great reluctance, many of us
will join the Democrat majority in this effort. Not because we want to
but because you have left us no alternative. Your obstinacy and
close-mindedness, disastrous policies, corruptions -- along with the
lies you told us and the American people to take the country to war with
Iraq -- will serve as the Republican Party's death-knell for uncountable
years. When you two are gone in disgrace, we'll at least have a chance
of re-building our electoral base and luring back all the moderate,
traditional conservatives who left because of your arrogance,
stubbornness and extremism. They, with our religious base, once again
can provide the margin for Republican victory.
Rep. Dennis Hastert: Let's all take a breath and not say things
we shouldn't. Let's stop all this talk about retaliation, impeachment,
defeat. You two still have the opportunity to save your administration,
your legacies, your reputations, your party. It could still be done, and
nobody would think badly of you for altering your course. Simply say
you've rethought your strategy, adapt some of the recommendations from
the Iraq Study Group and others -- like regional diplomacy, a United
Nations-led peace force, stepped-up training of Iraqi police and
military units, that sort of thing -- and start slowly withdrawing our
Bush: That will not happen. We must be seen as the victor, never
the loser. We believe in our mission, and we will stay the course with
it, regardless of what comes. We will persever -- we will persevate --
we will not stop. Thank you all for coming.
Lugar: With heavy hearts, we leave you to your fate, Mr.
President, Mr. Vice President. You have decided to take us all down with
you when you fall, and risk taking down the Constitution and the country
as well. God help you, sirs. God help us all.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught
government & international relations at universities in California and
Washington, worked as a writer/editor at the San Francisco Chronicle for two
decades, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
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