MANIPULATION, THEN AND NOW
Looks at a heartbreaking precedent
Some of you old-timers may recall that the senior partner at The Political Forum – Mark Melcher – started his life on Wall Street, way back in 1973, as a drug-stock analyst. He picked up some drug-policy analysis along the way and then, eventually, delved into politics. Within a decade, he had revolutionized Washington research for Wall Street, making political analysis and forecasting an important part of any well-rounded macro-strategy research product.
Now, the junior partner at The Political Forum brings this up today because the senior partner never really got the health care/drug bug entirely out of his system. Whatever else he was – including Institutional Investor’s #1-rated Washington analyst for eight straight years – he was always a drug analyst as well. Or at least he was the last time we worked in an office together, which, admittedly, was a looooong time ago.
Anyway, on November 25, 1999 – Thanksgiving Day – a small group of fishermen found and rescued a five-year-old boy who was clinging to an innertube just off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As it turned out, the boy was the only survivor of twelve Cuban refugees trying to reach Florida in pursuit of asylum. The eleven others – including the boy’s mother – had all drown.
Over the next several months, the boy – Elian Gonzalez – was the subject of an intense international custody dispute. The boy’s father wanted him returned to his custody and to Cuba. The boy’s relatives in Florida – who were awaiting his and his mother’s arrival and who had taken custody of young Elian in the meantime – wanted him granted asylum and placed in their care permanently.
As the battle unfolded, one person in particular played the central role for the U.S. federal government. Attorney General Janet Reno fought tooth and nail to deny Elian Gonzalez asylum and to ensure that he was returned to his father and to Cuba.
When Florida courts granted emergency custody to Elian’s Florida relatives, Reno denied their authority. Reno made herself the primary negotiator between the two sides in the dispute, encamping in Florida to serve as a physical go-between and as Elian’s father’s primary advocate.
On April 19, 2000, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals officially blocked Elian’s return to Cuba, a clear victory for his family in Florida. Nevertheless, four days later, on Easter Sunday, Reno ordered federal agents – in full tactical gear, with guns drawn – to raid the home of Elian’s Florida relatives and to seize the boy, which, as seen below, they did.
The next morning, Melcher showed up to the office with his big book of pharmaceuticals and a half-written piece. He was agitated. “Come here,” he said, opening his book to the page on a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease. “Look at this. It’s the drug she takes.” “She,” of course, was Janet Reno, and the drug’s common effects and side-effects included delusions, hearing voices, impaired judgment, increased susceptibility to suggestion/persuasion, and so on. “That’s the drug she’s on. And that’s why they put her in charge of this. That’s why they had her handle this, despite the fact that her entire department has recused itself. [The Justice Department had, indeed, recused itself from the dispute on November 29, 1999.] They know she’s impaired, and they’re taking advantage of it and of her to kiss up to Castro.”
“Is that what you wrote?”
“OK. So, you want to say that Janet Reno, the Attorney general of the United States, ordered the raid yesterday because of her meds, meds she takes for Parkinson’s? You want to say she’s messed up and incompetent because of her disease and the treatment she takes for it?”
“C’mon! You know better than that. That’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s not about her. It’s about them! They’re manipulating that poor, sick woman to get what they want.”
“Bill, Hillary. Probably Gore. Eric Holder. I don’t know who else. All the doofuses in the party who want to end the blockade and normalize relations with Cuba.”
“You’re probably right. But you can’t write that.”
“Well, first of all, you know your editor will throw a fit, and so will compliance. And if you go over their heads and get it published, when they get complaints from retail brokers, they’ll crucify you. ‘Melcher’s gone too far this time,’ they’ll say. ‘Attacking a poor sick woman for the drugs she takes to control her terrible disease!’”
“I’m not attacking HER. I’m defending her – from…them! I KNOW this drug. I know what it does to people. And I know that they’re manipulating her because of it. Heck, it’s probably the reason they won’t let her resign and go home to Florida. This IS a story, and it’s a GOOD story. It explains so much.”
“I know that. And you know that. And anyone with any sense knows that. But we’re talking about the people in New York [Prudential Securities’ headquarters] and, worse still, in Newark [Prudential’s headquarters], NOT people with any sense.”
“I’m telling you. This is important. The powers that be in the party are stage-managing an old, unhealthy woman to enact stupid policies and to make her the public face of those stupid policies, in case the public realizes that they’re stupid policies. But…fine. If you’re afraid to stand up to my editor; if you’re too scared of our buddy [name of a retail broker who shared a name with a famous serial killer and who wrote us half-crazy hand-scrawled hate-mail]; if you want to let them get away with this now so that they’ll try it again in the future, then that’s OK with me. You and I will always know the truth, that I could have saved the world, but you stopped me because big, strong you were scared. That’s… fine….”
In retrospect, I was right. The piece would have gone over like a lead balloon (to coin a phrase).
But Mark was right too. The Clintons and heaven-knows who else were manipulating Reno, her illness, and the effects of her medication to make her be the public face of policies they favored but that they knew the public might detest. She was the designated fall guy. SHE’S the one who ordered a gun to be pointed at a screaming five-year-old boy, as federal agents kidnapped him, all to make Fidel Castro happy.
We’re not sure who the puppet-master is today, but as you may have guessed, we are sure that it’s happening again but on a much bigger and more shocking level.
Joe Biden should never have entered the 2020 presidential race. He should have gone home to enjoy his dotage. He should not be in the White House. He should be at his big beach house in Rehoboth. He is NOT well. And there is really no way to pretend otherwise any longer.
This is sad. It’s frustrating. It’s disgusting. And it’s not new.
What is happening in Afghanistan is shameful. What is happening in Washington is even more so.