"Shallow Throat": Dems' Cave-In Is Truly Scary
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
May 29, 2007
"Shallow Throat" looked like a ghost -- exhausted, pallid skin, and,
when the wrap-around shades came off, I could see dark circles under the
The GOP mole high up in the Bush Administration had contacted me through
our secret code. Given our
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
"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 they 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 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.
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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