Memo to George #9
Why worry about Enron when the Holy Trifecta —Vanity Fair,
Newsweek and NBC—give us the full Monica treatment?
By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin
Date: January 26, 2002
To: The President
From: Andrew H. Card, Jr., Chief of Staff
Re: End run on Enron
cc: Karl, Karen
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 special—all 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
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
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 Joey—sour 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 outrage—it'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 Paul—as your dad would say, he's "Loose
Cannon City"). When in doubt, just think Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes:
We know noth-ing!
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.