Al Gore and Dick Morris:
The Unholy Alliance
`Behind the Oval Office'
by Scott Thompson
During the 1996 Clinton reelection campaign, Lyndon LaRouche, then a candidate in the Democratic Presidential primary elections, warned President Clinton to purge the White House of so-called political consultant Richard "Dirty Dick" Morris. Morris, the cousin-once-removed and protégé of the late gangster attorney and closet homosexual Roy Cohn, slithered between the White House and his clients among the President's arch-enemies, the Republican Confederates, collecting and passing on bits of gossip and compromising information on Clinton.
Even in early 1996, Morris was telling some of his Republican clients, such as then-Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, the GOP candidate for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, that the Presidential election would be a referendum on President Clinton's "ethics," and that "Clinton is going to be indicted" for Whitewater.
This, while, for a time, Morris was President Clinton's chief reelection campaign strategist—to the tune of $20,000 a month in "consulting fees." Some of the President's men labelled Morris a "GOP double agent" and a "Republican mole." In a June 27, 1995 Knight-Ridder story, Sandy Grady wrote that "some Clinton loyalists compare Morris to Rasputin, the nineteenth-century Russian mystic and faith healer who led the Tsar's family to destruction."
Morris was ousted as a campaign adviser in August 1996, during the Democratic nominating convention, when details of his affair with a call girl, and his foot fetish—especially sucking the toes of his sexual partners—broke in The Star supermarket tabloid and was then reported on the front page of the New York Post. Morris blamed his "enemies" in the White House for leaking the information that led to photographs and tape-recordings of his trysts. Morris—who is now one of independent counsel Kenneth Starr's key sources, a bosom buddy of the House Managers, and an informal consultant to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott—is still trying to get even.
In two interviews with this author, corroborated by other published sources, Morris made a remarkable revelation: While he had a lot of opposition in the White House, he also had an ally—Vice President Al Gore, Jr. Morris's amoral "deal" with Gore formed a key part of the parliamentary coup d'état now under way against President Clinton, the part known as the "inside job."
Fact: Gore and Morris ran a "Mutt and Jeff" routine against President Clinton, to force him to break with the "liberal wing" of the Congressional Democrats, who were engaged in something like hand-to-hand combat against House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his Conservative Revolutionaries. Gore and Morris's message was: Scrap the "general welfare" clause of the U.S. Constitution, and chart a "New Democratic," "Third Way" course, which Morris described as "triangulating," between the embattled Congressional Democrats and the Newtzis.
Fact: Gore and Morris teamed up to ram through the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, over White House and Cabinet objections, in order to "out-Gingrich Gingrich." It was President Clinton's capitulation to this deal, which jettisoned the Franklin Roosevelt coalition of traditional Democratic constituencies, and which demoralized not only Democrats, but also Independents and cross-over, anti-Gingrich Republicans, and kept the Gingrichite fascists in power in the Congress in both the 1996 and 1998 elections. The failure of the Democrats to retake Congress set the stage for the current attempt to remove Clinton from office.
"Rasputin" Morris may have been banned from the White House, but as long as his closest ally in the anti-Clinton plot, Vice President Gore, is put forward as a leading administration figure, there will be no way for the Presidency to survive the current oligarchy-driven impeachment assault.
Prime Minister Gore
Morris is giving every bit of assistance he can to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and the House Managers, nicknamed by one columnist as the "Death Squad." Nearly every day, Morris writes a column or gives an interview that accuses Clinton of lying, perjury, and "running a White House secret police." No longer known as "Rasputin," some insiders call him the male Linda Tripp, for his buddy-buddy relationship with independent counsel Starr's staff.
In the context of his collaboration with the House Managers, Morris bragged to this author about his role in promoting Gore to an unparalleled position of power in the current crisis.
In listening to Morris, one is struck by the image of a "world class," deceitful self-promoter in action. Morris talks a lot. He maintains a toll-free phone number with a pager and forwarding function, so he can never miss a chance for publicity. But, EIR presents here only those things that we have been able to cross-check from other, credible accounts. Here are excerpts from my recent interview with Morris:
Q: From reading your book, Behind the Oval Office, it seems that you were being iced out by ... the White House Staff.
Q: And, you turned to Vice President Al Gore, who was suffering a similar problem, and made an alliance—
Morris: Yep.... I think he was frozen out more by [White House aide George] Stephanopoulos, and the core of the White House staff....
And, I think that there was a feud within the White House staff—that often happens—and they lined up either behind the President or the Vice President....
And, I think the White House staff tried to sort of—froze Gore's staff out. And, one of the things I did [was to align] myself with Gore, and sort of reoriented the center of the White House back from staff toward the Vice President—
Q: You reoriented it back from the Congressional Democrats like Ted Kennedy—
Q: Now, what issues did this exactly put on Gore's plate?
Morris: Well ... the balanced budget speech. The decision to give the balanced budget speech was really the beginning of the period of Gore's ascendancy [starting in June 1995].... More and more of the functions of the President were turned over to Gore. So, not only was he sort of Chief of Staff in general, but he was also in charge of certain areas.... And, those came to be more and more tremendous....
Q: So, he's becoming almost a co-President—
Q: —the way that Henry Kissinger tried to arrange matters for Ford with President Nixon?
Morris: Right, but Kissinger was going to stand in on the foreign [policy side], and Vice President Gore has both the foreign and the domestic. A more accurate name than co-President—I think a better form which would probably be most accurate, would be Prime Minister.... Prime Minister is probably the best.
Gore and Morris's "deal" to promote one another's interests continues to reverberate. In discussions, Morris repeatedly references the latest paperback edition of his book, Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999), as the definitive source on how the Faustian bargain was cemented.
As Morris reports (pp. 155-156), when he was asked by President Clinton in 1992 about potential vice presidential choices, Morris claims that his first choice was Sen. Al Gore, Jr.: "In June 1992, as Clinton prepared for his first run for the Presidency, he conferred with me at some length on the selection of a vice president. I had urged that he choose Gore, arguing that he needed a vice president very much like himself. In eschewing the traditional notion of balancing the ticket with a vice president who is different, I said that Clinton had not fully explained to the voters who he, Bill Clinton, really was. Gore's similarity would make it easier for Clinton to tell voters more about himself."
But, once Gore had been elected Vice President, he and Clinton were in reality miles apart on the evolutionary scale, respectively representing a poisonous krait snake and a decent human being; hence, the Vice President was prepared to become the "devil's advocate" for Morris's disastrous and amoral policy of "triangulation" with the Gingrichites, and, in particular, with Morris's other client, closet Klansman Senate Majority Leader Lott. "Until mid-April 1995, I worked with the President without anyone outside the White House knowing about it. It was the happiest time of my life," Morris writes about being named chief campaign strategist to the 1996 Clinton/Gore campaign.
Once President Clinton had decided to appoint Morris to this key position, Morris writes (pp. 115-116):
"I felt like a stranger in a strange building in a strange city. I needed allies desperately, and the vice president came to my rescue. By late winter of 1995, at one of their weekly lunch meetings, the President had discussed with Gore my role in the administration. Sensing my isolation, Clinton urged me to see the vice president, and I immediately set up an appointment.
"We met in mid-March in the office of Jack Quinn, Gore's chief of staff at the time and later White House counsel. Gore sat in a wing chair, and I sat at the corner of the couch next to him. I explained my ideas and theories for about half an hour with little or no interruption. I could sense that the vice president agreed with most of what I was saying. He listened intently. I stressed that I needed his help to get anything done and underscored how frustrated I had been.
"He grasped what I was saying and offered his full support, subject to two conditions: first, that I respect his priorities, such as the environment, and include them in my planning, and second, that I promise not to divulge anything related to the campaign to Lott. I readily agreed to both, and made clear that my talks with Lott were focused on government issues, not on campaign issues.
"Gore told me that he had been increasingly troubled by the drift of the White House and badly shaken by the defeat in '94. He said that he had tried, in vain, to move the administration toward the center, but the White House staff had shut him out. He said that he had only recently heard of my involvement and did not know me at all. But, he said, 'We need a change around here, a big change, and I'm hoping and praying that you're the man to bring it.' We shook hands on our alliance" (emphasis added).
In his book, Morris confesses that he did tell Lott that, with the support he now had in the White House, the right-wing Republicans might successfully push what became the Welfare Reform Act without fear of a veto, which, Morris said, is exactly what the Congressional Republican leadership did.
'The deal' goes into effect
In his book, Morris describes the Mutt-and-Jeff routine that he and the Vice President carried out against the beleaguered President Clinton. At one point, Morris describes a meeting where he was screaming that the President must "triangulate" upon the Congressional Republicans, i.e., break with the traditional Democrats, or else face a "pile of vetoes" as the legacy of his administration; the Vice President played the "soft cop," pretending to calm Morris while also supporting Morris's argument. The confrontation became so heated that a stunned Clinton warned Morris that, if he did not stop shouting, the Secret Service would believe that he was assaulting the President. And, after Gore left the room, that is exactly what Morris did: He grabbed the President, shook him, and shouted at him to "get some nerve!" and make the break with the traditional Democrats in Congress—i.e., his closest allies.
But, according to Morris, the real breakthrough came when, with the support of Gore, he got the President to agree to accept Republican "voodoo economics"—by giving a "balanced budget speech." Morris describes how he and Gore led the President to that point. In March 1995 (pp. 117-119), over the objections of nearly every other White House aide, Morris and Gore got Clinton to give his "pile of vetoes" speech:
"The struggle to rescue the President from his staff began in earnest and in the open in March.... On March 16 I suggested that the President deliver what I called the Pile of Vetoes speech. It would be an overall response to the Republican agenda and would feature a disclaimer by the President that 'I didn't come to Washington to issue a pile of vetoes' in response to partisan confrontation. And in the speech he would reach out to the Republicans and urge that they join him in finding common ground....
"I pressed this idea on the President in ever more urgent tones during the strategy sessions at the White House residence on March 23 and April 5.
"The April 5 strategy session was the genuine turning point in the President's move to the center. I harshly criticized our position: 'The vast bulk of our rhetoric is anti-Congress and anti-Republican. Getting involved in a zero-sum game with Congress is a very bad idea. Congress is winning the public relations war.... I criticized our rich-versus-poor rhetoric and our almost total absence of any attempt to carve out a Clinton position that was separate and distinct from that of the Congressional Democrats. 'The new Clinton positions are receiving short shrift and getting submerged in a two-way Democrat vs. Republican fight,' I complained.
"More strategically, I warned that ... unless the President articulates third-way solutions in the crucible of the current controversies, he will become irrelevant.'
"Panetta argued strenuously [that] ... the President should not break ranks with Congressional Democrats, he said, when they were beginning to make progress in sullying the Gingrich image and blunting the offensive.
"I argued that ... we needed to strike out and fight for a triangulated third way.
"Vice-President Gore, who had recently joined the meeting, sat in silence, as did the President, while Panetta and I argued. Finally, the President turned to Gore and said, 'What do you think, Al?'
"Gore spoke as if he were writing an opinion for the Supreme Court. He reviewed the recent history since the '94 defeat and then made an exaggerated bow to Leon's position: 'I fully realize how important it is for us to listen to Leon and not break ranks with the rest of the party, and I fully appreciate how concerned Leon is that such a course might lead us to disaster and even greater trouble than we have now.' Then came the long-awaited but: 'But I have to say that, on balance, I agree with Dick's point that we need now to emerge from the shadows and place ourselves at the center of the debate with the Republicans by articulating what we will accept and what we will not, in a clear and independent way.'
According to Morris, he and Gore pressed their offensive by pushing for the President to give a "balanced budget speech." Gore argued that if it were not done, as Morris puts it, "We would have no standing in the current debate and no way to prove our fiscal moderation to swing voters" (p. 163).
Gore and Morris pushed and pushed on this issue until May 25, 1995, when the President made the tragic mistake of once again capitulating to his "Rasputin" campaign strategist and his Vice President. According to Morris:
"On May 25, we canvassed our weekly strategy meeting, reopening the whole issue of whether he could give the balanced budget speech....
"Determined to press my case, I argued long and hard for the President to give the speech. Such a speech, I said, not only would be a good political move but would announce the start of a transformation of the Democratic Party from big-government liberalism to policies that met the needs of the people within realistic constraints—an endorsement in other words, of the takeover of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party....
"Panetta and Ickes led the opposition. Stephanopoulos had not yet been admitted to these meetings, but Panetta in effect spoke for him. After all had spoken, the President turned to Gore, as he often did, and said, 'What about it, Al?'
"Gore, again as if issuing a Supreme Court opinion, traced the ancestry of the issue, recognizing opposite points of view, but finally said, 'Mr. President, I think this is something we have to do.'
"The meeting broke up. The President decided to go with the speech" (pp. 167-68).
As Morris described the fallout from the decision to adopt Republican balanced budget economics (pp. 168), this decision effectively isolated the President from the full support of his Congressional Democratic allies: "Clinton continued to receive scorching phone calls from the House and Senate Democratic leadership. He was shaken by the depth of their anger and their sense of betrayal. 'We have the Republicans on the run, and you are letting them off scot-free,' they yelled. Their message was not lost on the President. 'You're on your own, buddy. You have no party anymore.' "
The issue-advocacy ads
It was once again Gore, says Morris, who was the "devil's advocate" for Morris's idea of spending tens of millions of dollars upon issue-advocacy ads for the reelection campaign. On this question the White House staff put up little or no opposition, he says, insisting only that a budget limit ought to be set as a fundraising goal. For 1995, that budget was $10 million.
The chief problem with Morris's issue-advocacy ad campaign, was that it tied President Clinton down, and forced him to attend dozens of high-ticket fundraisers and "press the flesh" events. With a Republican majority in Congress, Morris had counseled the President to both focus on what could be achieved in foreign affairs and to do as much as possible through Executive Orders. However, as the President told Morris, this advice, which was the opposite of James Carville's famous dictum, "It's the economy, stupid!" was made impossible by the vast sums demanded for advocacy issue ads, as Morris admits: "Only once did he complain to me about the pace of the fund-raising he had to endure: 'I can't think, I can't act. I can't do anything but go to fund-raisers and shake hands. You want me to issue Executive orders; I can't focus on a thing but the next fund-raiser.... We're all getting sick and crazy because of it' " (p. 151).
Was this a deliberate effort by Morris to derail President Clinton even further from his policymaking responsibilities? Interestingly, the firm that Morris chose to handle the tens of millions of dollars worth of advocacy ads was run by a close friend of Gore, Bob Squier, of the firm of Squier, Knapp, Ochs. "He was close to the vice president who was pleased by his appointment," writes Morris.
Although President Bill Clinton eventually caught on to the Rasputin-like role being played by Morris, he has yet to catch on to how Morris was abetted on the inside of this conspiracy by Al Gore. This is clear from a confrontation described on p. 190, when the President finally blew up: "The President, red-faced, turned toward me, jabbed me with his forefinger, and yelled, 'You are the cause of factionalism around here. You are. Ever since you insisted—insisted—on hiring Squier and made the vice president your employee.... You are the one creating factions and friction are here. You are.' He stalked off angrily to attend the evening's events in Washington.
"His outburst was right after the first government shutdown on December 7, 1995. We had just ended a strategy session, and I was astonished by the outburst. I said to myself, He's right, I am the cause of factionalism at the White House—damned right."
Although Morris's days were numbered after this confrontation, President Clinton has never grasped how his trusted Vice President played the greatest role in giving Morris and his policy of "triangulation" power within the White House and against other elected Democratic Party officials.
'The suburban swing! The suburban swing!'
Morris is a notorious liar, but much of what he says about the role that he played with Vice President Gore is corroborated in former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's 1997 book, Locked in the Cabinet. Reich notes that Clinton is under pressure to compromise with the Republicans for a "balanced-budget" austerity policy. Economic advisers such as Reich are telling him not to submit his own "balanced-budget" plan, but to fight the Republicans:
"B [President Clinton] is on his own. Gore tells him as much today, stating the obvious after all of his economic advisers object to putting a balanced-budget plan on the table. 'Mr. President, you're in a different place from your advisers.'...
"[Clinton] doesn't want to listen to any of us who are now sitting with him around this table. Who's he listening to? Astronomers learned of the existence of 'black holes' in space—matter so dense that its gravitation sucks in all light.... The black hole is Dick Morris" (pp. 260-61).
On page 321, Reich describes the cabinet and Clinton discussing whether he should sign the Republican bill to throw the poor off welfare, to languish in worse poverty and compete against others for lower wages. By signing, Clinton would betray Democratic constituencies and sabotage Democratic chances in the upcoming 1996 election. Morris lied that signing the bill would win the election:
"We go around the table. Most of the cabinet is firmly against signing. Most of the political advisers are in favor. Dick Morris isn't in the room, but he might as well be. I can hear his staccato-nasal voice: 'The suburban swing! The suburban swing!' Yet the political advisers gathered here are careful to veil crass politics within a respectable patina of policy....
"Gore says he'll reserve judgment (presumably until he's alone with B so that he can tell him he'd be crazy to veto the bill and risk the upcoming election, not to mention the one after it). He advises B to go with his conscience."
A witness for the prosecution
Morris admitted to this author that in the effort to oust Clinton, he has been in contact with the House Managers presenting the case to railroad President Clinton. Asked about his columns in British asset Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, where Morris had spoken of a "White House Secret Police" that targetted the enemies of the President, allegedly to obstruct justice, Morris confirmed that he had provided his "evidence" to the House Managers and was prepared to testify against President Clinton. "But I don't think it will come to that," Morris said. He added, "Well, I believe that Clinton committed perjury and obstruction of justice." But, always the "Third Way" advocate, Morris concluded, "I think it's an open-and-shut case on the question of obstruction of justice, but it does not merit conviction."
Whatever Morris told this author, the Feb. 3 Washington Post relates a far more traitorous role, in its "Style" section, under the headline: "Dick Morris, Burning His Bridges: The Former Clinton Confidant Fires Off New Accusations." The article reported that, among Morris's recent utterances about President Clinton, were his comments that: "Congress should kill Clinton's pension and expense allowance after he leaves office, since the Senate is unlikely to convict him. Oh, and a $4.5 million fine might also be nice."
Morris jumped into the arms of Starr's prosecutors, who, according to a recent account in Vanity Fair, are obsessed with stories about Clinton's sex life. The Washington Post notes that apparently, only two weeks after being fired by Clinton in 1996, Morris was giving a sworn statement to House investigators. And, more recently, not only does Morris continue to talk with his former client Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, but he also speaks with the pit bull of House Managers, Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), a former Federal prosecutor. Morris has written glowingly of Senate Majority Leader Lott, who has decided to prolong the impeachment process even though the vote to dismiss demonstrated that it would be impossible to convict the President. Morris says Lott is "the nimble Senate Republican" who "uses a scalpel to get what he wants."
Not above completely fabricating stories, Morris retails the filth from Jerry Falwell's "Clinton Chronicles" video, now saying that Senators are "physically afraid of retaliation," if they vote to convict. Why? Morris says, "Don't you know the list of 25 people who have died in mysterious circumstances in connection with this investigation?"
Asked by this author, why, unlike the heroic Susan McDougall, he had jumped into bed with with Starr, the ever-opportunistic Morris replied: "It's simple. I was subpoenaed, and I didn't want to go to jail."
Further confirmation that Morris will say just about anything to save Dirty Dick Morris.