Millie's Book, the Missing Chapter|
The Prez was about to begin another meeting in the Oval Office when Bar decided to drag me in. A few of the beat reporters and photographers were still hanging around and, like me, hoping to snare a leftover doughnut. When it comes to food, though—if a dog will eat it, a reporter will eat it—so I didn't expect much in the way of leftovers on this particular day.
"Is Millie going to the Gulf?" asked a sardonic Sam Donaldson. Sam doesn't cover the White House anymore, but he was doing a profile of Bar for his so-far-unsuccessful TV show, Prime Time Live.
"Photo opportunity," answered the Prez, laughing. Then he waved his hand and the media, and Sam—and Bar—were politely shown out. I expected to be next, but today was different.
"What about the dog?" asked John Sununu, smelling of takeout fried chicken. The Prez looked at him and smiled.
"You're not worried about leaks, are you, John?" Sununu laughed at the joke, but I really think he suspected me. (Well, I am the source of some leaks!)
I waited for Sununu or Darman, or even Brent Scowcroft to toss me into the Rose Garden, but then fate intervened—Jim Baker entered, a package of crispy pork rinds in his left jacket pocket.
"I'm glad you're here," the Prez said, seriously. "We've got a problem."
With that the mood changed and Baker walked over to the desk. I followed. He sat down and I sat down next to him. My nose and those pork rinds were within inches of each other.
"Jim," the Prez began, "We're getting fucked up the ass on this budget thing and I need you to come in here and lay out the whole picture to some of these bastards—like Gingrich."
I expected Baker to remain seated, maybe even lean back, but no—he stood up!
"I understand, and I will help you there, but I really came here to ask you for your help with the Security Council resolution. They've got us over a barrel with our pants down and the hairbrush out."
Baker started to pace, and so did I. He walked to the window, then shuffled over to the fireplace, and then back to the window again. And then, just when it seemed like he was going to reach into his pocket and take out those pork rinds, he fooled me—he pulled out a toothpick and sat down—right on the pork rinds! (And they say it's a dog's life!)
"The problem is complicated," Baker continued. "Did you hear Pat Buchanan the other day? Practically wrote off Israel with that 'Amen corner' shit. Jesus Christ, with friends like that... "
"With friends like that, who needs Saddam Hussein?" giggled Sununu. (As far as I'm concerned, they should dump Sununu. He's become a political liability. Bar thinks he's an opportunistic little gnome who'd sell his own mother if he had to. I wouldn't go quite that far.)
Then Dick Cheney entered, his pockets empty and a chip on his shoulder.
"We're gettin' fucked all over on this 'hurry up and wait' strategy with Hussein, sir," he blurted out, not realizing that Jim Baker, the architect of that strategy, was sitting right there.
"Uh, Dick, uh, Jim is here," the Prez pointed out, diplomatically.
"I know," Cheney lied. (A dog can tell.) "But I've got three hundred thousand men sittin' out there in that fuckin' sandtrap twiddlin' their thumbs and tellin' me to shit or get off the pot. And I can't do shit until I hear from the goddamn State Department." I've never seen the Secretary of Defense so angry. The Prez turned to Jim Baker.
"Whaddaya say, Jim? Should we go in there and waste the fucker?" The Prez trusts Jim Baker more than anyone. More than Bar. More than me.
Baker, pork rind crumbs shifting around in his pocket, stood up and faced Cheney and looked him directly in the eye.
"Dick... " He paused, searching for the perfect put-down. But, before he could speak, the Vice President entered, something strange in his pants pocket. Something with menthol in it.
"Dan, you're early," Sununu joked, for the nine thousandth time. (No matter where or when he sees Quayle, Sununu always says, "Dan, you're early." Is that supposed to be funny?)
"I did an interview for CBS," the Veep announced. Suddenly, there was an eerie silence—as if we'd just learned that Iraqi missiles were on the way.
"Who... did... you... talk... to?" Baker asked, enunciating each word carefully.
"John Madden?" Sununu cracked. Not bad, I thought. (Well, I can't really think, but you get the idea.)
"Close... Frank Gifford," Quayle retorted, proudly. Now everyone broke out in laughter. Big laughter. I laughed, er—barked so hard I had to pee. (Get me to the horseshoe pit!)
"First of all, Dan," the Prez began, "Frank Gifford's on ABC." (The Prez is always good-natured, understanding, in control—except when you bring up the CIA, or windfall oil taxes, or Geraldine Ferraro, or Dan Rather, or his son Neil, or—well, he's usually a saint).
"Secondly, aren't you supposed to be getting ready for that trip to the Far East?"
"I'm all packed," answered the youthful Quayle. (He's only six—in dog years.)
"Well, aren't you supposed to be somewhere, Dan?" Baker hinted, with very little subtlety.
"Can't I stay? What are you discussing? Maybe I can help."
There was that eerie silence again. Then, as if on cue, the door creaked open and Bar entered. I perked up, knowing this could be my chance for some relief. The Prez was glad to see her and he gave her a knowing wink, as if to say, "Get the dog out of here." She winked back, knowingly.
"Get him out of here," The Prez said, indicating the Vice President. "And take the dog with you."
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