So you want to be a fall guy. Do you have the skills and the knowledge to paint that bull's-eye onto your back? Take this simple quiz.
1. How does a president signal that Cabinet Secretary Jones is about to lose his job?
A. "I will consider the charges against Jones and then recommend a course of action."
B. "Frankly, I have my reservations about Jones, but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt."
C. "Jones and I have had a full and frank discussion. I'll have more to say about that later."
D. "Jones has my full faith and confidence."
2.What were the two events in American history for which E. Howard Hunt took the fall?
A. Watergate and the Vietnam War
B. Watergate and Iran-Contra
C. Watergate and the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile
D. Watergate and the Bay of Pigs
3. St. Thomas à Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four perfidious knights. King Henry II punished these knights by banishing them and seizing their lands. What did King Henry say to the knights prior to Becket's murder?
A. "See that nothing happens to my good pal the Archbishop of Canterbury."
B. "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"
C. "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
D. "I don't want anything to happen to him while my mother's alive."
4. Name George W. Bush's first fall guy.
A. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
B. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld
C. Vice-presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby
D. John Sununu, chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush
5. Which high-ranking official took the fall for the Bay of Pigs?
A. John Foster Dulles
B. Allen Dulles
C. Charles Foster Kane
D. Stella Dallas
6. Why did Joshua Steiner, Treasury chief of staff during President Clinton's first term, lose his job?
A. Because he permitted Jay Stephens, a Republican, to be appointed to investigate Madison Guaranty, a failed Arkansas savings and loan
B. Because he permitted Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman to recuse himself from the investigation of Madison Guaranty
C. Because he kept a diary
D. All of the above
7. Which current TV-news personality was reported to have chewed Steiner out over the handling of Madison Guaranty?
A. Tim Russert
B. Charles Gibson
C. George Stephanopoulos
D. Stephen Colbert
8. What is President Bush's nickname for Alberto Gonzales, attorney general of the United States?
A. "Lawyer guy"
B. "The judge"
D. "Al Pal"
9. When Robert McFarlane, an early Iran-Contra fall guy, swallowed a bottleful of Valium, to which Washington Post employee did he leave a self-justifying note?
A. Ben Bradlee
B. Bob Woodward
C. Katharine Graham
D. Meg Greenfield
10. What is President Bush's preferred method of punishment for the fall guys of the current war in Iraq?
A. Harsh public words
B. Private ostracization
C. Blue-ribbon panel investigations
D. Presidential medal of freedom
Mix and match: Pair the fall guy with what he/she took the fall for.
|1. Joseph Califano||A. Pearl Harbor|
|2. Bernie Nussbaum||B. FDR's court-packing scheme|
|3. Husband Kimmel||C. "Who lost China?"|
|4. Roger Altman||D. Hurricane Katrina|
|5. John Sununu||E. Jimmy Carter's malaise|
|6. Joseph Robinson||F. Tipped Clinton White House to criminal referral|
|7. Michael Brown||G. Filegate|
|8. Walter Short||H. Jimmy Carter's malaise|
|9. John Paton Davies||I. Pearl Harbor|
|10. James Schlesinger||J. George H.W. Bush's unpopularity|
Answers: 1) d; 2) d; 3) b or c; 4) d; 5) b; 6) d; 7) c; 8) c; 9) d; 10) d
Bonus Question Answers: 1) e or h; 2) g; 3) a or i; 4) f; 5) j; 6) b; 7) d; 8) a or i; 9) c; 10) e or h
If you got more than six out of 10 correct on either the multiple choice or the mix and match, you've probably got too much on the ball to make a good fall guy. But don't lose heart! As I noted in an earlier column, you can be a good fall guy by making up in zealotry what you lack in dimwittedness.