By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
(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 believability.)
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 offices.
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 fr the war. We control the military, so to hell with you!
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 inbetween 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 Oval Office?
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 after 2008.
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, stubborness 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 troops.
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. #
Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, has written numerous fantasias ( http://www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm#fantasies ) about the Bush Administration. A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 1/30/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.