May 20, 2007

"Texas Poled 'Em"

By Mary Lyon

I figured out the game. So far, it's been a good one. This White House has played it for years. And up til now, they've always run the table. I call it "Texas Poled 'Em."  

As with Bridge, there's usually a dummy. Lately, we've seen several - departing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, the new "War Czar," Lt. General Douglas Lute, and even soon-to-be-former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. These are guys now positioned to take the fall for the Bushies - or, in game lingo, they're in line to get poled. James Comey, himself a now-former Deputy A.G., might also be on that list, along with Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, Bill Clinton, any Democrat to be named later, and anybody else considered sufficiently disposable.  

"Texas Poled 'Em" - so named because at present, its team leaders are the two most notorious Texans in our land - works like this: The main players do anything they want across the game board, illegal, immoral, unethical, whatever. All's fair, and fair game. Rules? There are no rules, at least as applied to the game players. They cover only the great unwashed who aren't members of this most elitist and exclusive of partisan inside-jobber clubs.  

Before McNulty's signature was even dry on his resignation letter, Alberto Gonzales's reaction to it came in the form of a door that had thoroughly smacked McNulty's back end on the way out. According to Mr. "I Don't Recall/Wasn't There/Had Nothing to Do with It", you'd have to ask McNulty about all this:  

"At the end of the day the recommendation reflected the views of the deputy attorney general," Gonzales told members of the National Press Club in a breakfast address televised on C-SPAN. "He signed off on the names."  

Translation: Congratulations, Paul McNulty! You've just been poled - and by at least one Texan. McNulty's the latest uki in Gonzo's sparring practice - the sparring partner who takes the beating so the opponent can polish his technique in preparation for winning the tournament. I suspect James Comey and even Miss Fifth Amendment 2007, Monica Goodling, are being positioned as ukis-in-waiting. And with all the uproar raging around the new designated hittee, you probably won't even notice our pal Gonzo quietly sneaking out the side exit. The patsy's left to do the explaining and take the hostile questions from the media and Congressional investigators, and possibly face federal charges. Just so long as Alberto gets away scot-free.  

So too with the new guy saddled with having to master the bait-and-switch dance in a few more months, when it comes time to explain why the fabulous surge hasn't worked in Iraq. He'll probably be expected to finesse how the surge will surely work if just given a few MORE months and a few more thousand troops. The moment George W. Bush announced the selection of Lt. General Douglas Lute as his new "War Czar," it was official. Congratulations, General Lute! You are being set up to be poled - by none other than the ranking Texan on the team. And it'll be all YOUR fault, while Dubya shrugs his shoulders and Karl Rove and Tony Snow figure out another set of talking points and buzz-phrases he can use to distract and pawn off more blame.  

I know their game. Sure, for now, Junior and his trusty sidekicks, Gonzo, and Turdblossom, too, have been winning all the points without getting their hands dirty. The hapless McNulty and Lute are only the latest designated pidgeons to get poled. Meanwhile, Bush, Gonzales, Cheney, Rove, and others of their ilk can dance off, free and clear, reeking of "innocence" and complete detachment from the fiascos THEY actually set in motion. Some other poor schmuck is going to take the heat when their boss's sins go from venial to mortal and somebody has to go to Hell without passing "go" or collecting 200 dollars.  

It's also a very typical technique that I've seen used by many a department head and upper-management type - basically any of those bigshots and would-be bigshots who can be found inhabiting the luxury sky boxes overlooking the gaming tables. Got a big job? Don't wanna do it? Too lazy or maybe just not in the mood? Perhaps you'd rather not miss your tee time or massage or that nice three-martini lunch already scheduled with your buds at the fancy expense-account cafe? Or maybe the job isn't exactly on the up-n-up and you really shouldn't have your good name mixed up in such things. Hey, no worries! You're the boss. That means you're entitled to do what any other lazy, overpaid, short-sighted, cheap-skate, self-preservationist, corner-cutting executive does. Delegate the authority. Have somebody else farther down the food chain do all the heavy lifting. Let that poor soul shoulder all the headaches and the responsibility, put in all the extra unpaid overtime, write all the damned memos, emails, and reports, and get his or her own hands dirty. Then it's the chump who has to step to the front of the line when it's time to face whatever consequences result from the original bad policy, costly decision, or ill-advised directive.  

The only time the referee finally steps in to stop the game is when there actually IS a referee of any sort. As long as the Texans can play "Texas Poled 'Em" the way they want to, the referee is like the rules - mainly nonexistent. Up til the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in January, there was no referee at all. At least now, there ARE questions being asked, hearings being held, subpoenas being issued, and explanations being sought - on pain of perjury. The fact that there finally are referees frees up the various wild cards to speak their minds with less fear and more candor. Encouragingly, they're even starting to throw the game, due to their refusal to play along anymore.

McNulty's already on the record with testimony that contradicts Gonzales's half-assed assertions. Comey's story has proven so compelling to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he may well find himself protected by more than just some FBI guys assigned to keep Gonzales and Andy Card from ordering him out of John Ashcroft's hospital room. For all we know, Ashcroft might feel like dealing himself in for Comey because Comey's testimony actually did the unthinkable (especially since Ashcroft himself had been on the verge of being named the chump-du-jour). It made a 13 th -century-mentality, lockstep Bushbot as prissy and nosey as Ashcroft look like a civil liberties Superman. We've already seen how the Wilson/Plame game has led to Patrick Fitzgerald ejecting Libby from the game, with the cards of a civil lawsuit being shuffled at the next table.

Those chosen to be on the receiving end of "Texas Poled 'Em" don't want to play anymore. And if they can keep it up, it will eventually be the Texans themselves who get poled.

Visualize IMPEACHMENT!!!
Then go DO something about it.


Mary Lyon is a veteran broadcaster and five-time Golden Mike Award winner who has anchored, reported, and written for the Associated Press Radio Network, NBC Radio "The Source," and many Los Angeles-area stations including KRTH-FM/AM, KLOS-FM, KFWB-AM, and KTLA-TV, and occasional media analyst for ABC Radio News.  Mary began her career as a liberal activist with the Student Coalition for Humphrey / Muskie in 1968 and helped spearhead a regional campaign, The Power 18, to win the right to vote for 18-year-olds. She remains an advocate for liberal causes, responsibility and accountability in media, environmental education and support of the arts for children, and green living. Mary writes for,, World News Trust, and's We! Magazine. Mary is also a parenting expert, having written and illustrated the book "The Frazzled Working Woman's Practical Guide to Motherhood."

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