WASHINGTON — Dick and Rummy are in the Jacuzzi at Camp David.
The two masters of the Bush universe have had a lousy week. And now,
with the white cast on Rummy's hand
buoyed by bubbles, they just want to sip Scotch on the rocks and review the knocks.They are keeping one eye
on the Kid, who's been jogging circles around Aspen Lodge for the past nine hours.
Junior is supposed to be inside practicing how to say "mal-fea-sance"
with an "s." But he won't do it. He's sulking.
He went to Wall Street on Tuesday to show that the hero of Sept. 11 could retaliate against the creeps who
wiped out the neighborhood and also keep C.E.O.'s from looting. But the president who got elected on the backs
of C.E.O.'s and said he wanted to run the country like a C.E.O. was about as convincing a sheriff as Barney Fife.
Rummy's war has also run into a bad patch, bombing brides instead of bin Laden.
As the two men soak, more steam is coming from the vice president than
the hot tub.
"The Kid never should have gone to Wall Street in the first place," Dick grumbles.
"All those poppycock reforms he and Rove rushed into the speech. Who knew our Karl was also a Marxist?
When the going gets tough, the weak go polling. Who cares what Americans think? They should care what we think."
W. jogs past with a singsong chant: "It's NOT my fault, it's NOT my fault, it's BUBBA'S fault, it's BUBBA'S fault."
Dick and Rummy laugh indulgently.
"SWAT teams swooping down on C.E.O.'s?" Dick scoffs. "What nonsense.
Will government lawyers
ride around in stealth golf carts and read these guys their rights on the back nine?
"We certainly don't need more transparency in this country. Transparency
is just a fancy kind of indecent exposure,
a sick counterculture idea, whether it's about the markets, accounting or giving up the names of our Houston buddies
who dictated my energy policy. I say: Zip it.
"We don't owe anybody any explanation for any thought or action that any of us have ever had or done."
Rummy grins devilishly and skillfully balances his glass on his cast in a silent toast.
"Those lily-livered liberals in Congress are outrageous — they're criminalizing
greed!" Dick says.
"And the spineless Republican fellow travelers on the Hill are almost worse — they'll dry up our donor base
and destroy the party before they're through. McCain is just Norman Thomas with medals.
"I have nothing against sharing, of course. As long as it's us getting the shares.
"Our strategy is to slow down the House and Senate so these stiffer
accounting and corporate-greed bills never see
the light of day. Maybe you guys could accelerate your war on Baghdad. A righteous distraction would come in handy."
The Pentagon boss indicates with a nod of his cast that this is possible. "Bunch of anticapitalist, world-government-loving wusses," Rummy says. "They don't understand how tough we had it as C.E.O.'s. It's lonely at the top."
Junior jogs over to the Jacuzzi and tries to get Vice's attention.
Dick waves him off and resumes his rant: "All that stands between America
and socialism are stock options. ]
Without options, companies can't lure great leaders who will take risks — with other people's money, of course.
If Congress got its way, when the stock went down, the C.E.O. would lose money just like everyone else.
But we are not everyone else."
The president tries again to get Dick's attention: "Dude?"
Dick goes on, his dander rising. "I'm sick and tired of these Sunday
morning pinkos trying to impoverish the ruling class.
People should get off my back about the way I cashed out of Halliburton. What's $20 million these days?"
Rummy is astonished. For the first time in the many decades he has known
Dick, his friend's face is no longer affectless.
Dick gives the impression of something that can only be called emotion.
But the Kid has finally lost patience. He jumps into the Jacuzzi, barely
missing Rummy's cast, and sloshes
right over to Vice, leaning into his ear and wailing plaintively: "Where's Karen?"