brucekluger.com

    Salon.com, January 26, 2002

    Memo to George #9
    Why worry about Enron when the Holy Trifecta Vanity Fair,
    Newsweek and NBCgive us the full Monica treatment?

    By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin


    INTEROFFICE MEMO

    Date: January 26, 2002
    To: The President
    From: Andrew H. Card, Jr., Chief of Staff
    Re: End run on Enron
    cc: Karl, Karen

    Mr. President:

    Before we wade through the mud puddle, let's take a stroll down the sunnier side of
    the street. Team Bush just pulled off a marketing blitz that makes those fat-boys at
    Miramax look like late-night telemarketers hawking hair in a can. And I'm not
    referring to your 80-something approval ratings (yawn, I'm getting kinda used to
    them). No, I'm talking about our recent Holy Trifecta: Vanity Fair, Newsweek and a
    prime time NBC specialall in the same week!

    First, Vanity Fair. Yowza, I haven't been that glued to a magazine since Barbi
    Benton's first Playboy appearance (July 1969). Check out that manly cover shot of
    you, the Veep and the General. You want stately? That image should be on a coin
    somewhere. I mean, toss your dad's face up there and we're looking at Mt. Friggin'
    Rushmore. But the master stroke in that photo was having you stand while Dick sat.
    Total win-win: 1) It gave you that Captain Kirk-at-the-helm look, and 2) It hid Dick's
    EKG wires.

    As for the Newsweek piece, I haven't seen anything that soft since the time Denny
    Hastert changed his shirt in the Oval. Hell, even Rummy and Colin seemed like
    brothers-in-arms (and I don't know about you, but the last time I got between those
    two, the atmosphere was so frosty the ol' cojones sack shot up to my chest).

    But Wednesday night's Inside the Real West Wing was the maraschino on our P.R.
    parfait. Was that must-see TV or what? Granted, Karl's not exactly Rob Lowe (then
    again, Marty Sheen's no you, so we're even). Lucky for us, Brokaw was softball city.
    He also looked a little dazed, didn't he? (I guess the 5 mgs of Vicodin in his ginger
    ale worked after all. Karl, I owe you five bucks.) But the real beaut was your daily
    workout in the gym. I had just come out of the john and caught a glimpse of your
    iron-pumping routine, and, I swear to God, it took the wife 15 minutes to convince
    me she hadn't switched to an Arnold flick. Finally, thanks, Karen, for keeping the
    cameras out of the situation room. Can you imagine having to explain the Twister
    mat?

    Needless to say, Mr. President, we're on a major-league roll. But one thing
    threatens to derail this Beltway bullet train, and we all know what it is. The big
    iceberg in the water: Enron. Try as we may to call it a business scandal, the media's
    convinced that this rotten egg was hatched right on the Portico porch swing. And
    things are just as bitchy at the other end of the Avenue. I haven't seen this many
    salivating subcommittees since Monica's hummer went global.

    So what do we do about this oil spot on the seat of our presidential pants? We're
    calling it The Three D's.

    1. DEFLECT: This isn't going to be as hard as it sounds. Lucky for us, over the
    years Enron and Andersen have lined more pockets than Yves St. Laurent. More
    than three-quarters of the congressional Kojaks looking into this mess got their
    lollipops from the so-called bad guys they're investigating. Hell, every little piggy on
    Pennsylvania Avenue has slopped at this murky trough some time or another. I say
    let the Dems have their hearings. After another week, they'll be up to their receding
    hairlines in their own dirty Fruit of the Looms. In the meantime:

    1) Focus on the War. John Q is scarfing down the action like an all-you-can-eat
    shrimp fest at Red Lobster, and they're ready for seconds. Keep 'em coming.

    2) Put Joe Lieberman in our spin machine. As Grand Rebbe of the Oversight
    Committee on Enron, he's in the perfect position to be called on for putzy partisan
    politics. We can cry "non-kosher" out the gazot on Joeysour grapes from '00,
    presidential aspirations for '04, you name it. The press thinks he's ethical? Give me
    a break. That guy is one axe-grinding Ashkenazy.

    3) If all else fails, let Phil and Wendy Gramm take the hit. The old boy's leaving the
    Senate this year, toting enough do-re-mi from Enron alone to keep 'em in clover (or
    in Wendy's case, General Tso's chicken). Besides, Phil's a beady-eyed bastard
    who nobody liked anyway.

    2. DERIDE: This is important, Mr. President. You cannot call Ken Lay "Kenny Boy"
    anymore, nor can you refer to him as "the Frito Bandito." (I know it's hilarious, but
    bite the bullet.) You may, however, call him "Mr. Lay," "Whatshisname" or "that
    snake-in-the-grass." Harsh words, yes, but now that the media haberdashery has
    begun handing out white and black hats, we know which Stetson we want our name
    on. For the time being, keep up the outrageit's working. That eight grand your
    mother-in-law tossed down the Enron crapper may be the best investment ever
    made for this administration, if you get my drift.

    By the way, while we're on the subject of bad news: Ken's Super Bowl party is off-
    limits this year. We'll do something fun here, I promise.

    3. DENY: As you may have noticed, Enron's been ringing the WH doorbell more
    frantically than a Jehovah's Witness after a triple latte. Whatever you do, don't
    answer it. From now on, Enron's as persona non grata in this administration as
    Stephen Ambrose at a book fair. As always, Dick has been setting the perfect tone
    for Operation Obfuscation. He's got those notes on his Energy Task Force locked
    up tighter than Martha Stewart's knees. We'd be wise to follow his example. So far,
    Dandy Don Evans and "Bucks" O'Neill are doing pretty well on the denial detail
    (though we should keep an eye on Paulas your dad would say, he's "Loose
    Cannon City"). When in doubt, just think Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes:
    We know noth-ing!

    Call me.

    Andy

    P.S. Although the "Mr. Salty Goes to Washington" incident is finally dying down
    (thank God), word on K Street has it that Bob Woodward has begun shopping his
    own little chronicle of the event. Working title? Pretzelgate: The Return of Deep
    Throat. Get a life, Bob.