Scott McClellan Cashes In
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has published a tell-all book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, taking swipes at the Bush administration. Politico’s Mike Allen has an extensive review and summary. The upshot of the book:
“I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”
Since that’s been my assessment for the last several years, it strikes me as exactly right. As to the specific charges thrown out by the book, though, I’m rather less interested. Has was a Bush confidante, dutifully passed on the administration’s talking points, and participated in all the things he’s now saying were so awful. So he was either lying to us then or he’s lying to us now. Why should we take him at his word? Either a man has integrity or he doesn’t.
Apparently McClellan has seen the light. Well, where’s his plea for forgiveness? If he were truly contrite about his involvement in a deceptive, propaganda-wielding administration, McClellan could demonstrate his sincerity by pledging that all profits from his belated truth-telling will go to charities supporting the families of American soldiers killed or injured in Iraq. For history’s sake, it is good that McClellan is confirming what most Americans (according to polls) have long known: the Bush administration trampled the truth to win public backing for the Iraq war. But as an enabler (witting or not) of that process, McClellan owes the public more than a for-sale account. He should not profit from this book, making bucks for correcting war-supporting falsehoods that he defended. He ought to be doing penance. True heart-felt confessions come free.
Jason Zengerle is also rather harsh:
Put aside the fact that McClellan has ample personal reasons for writing a harsh book about the Bush White Hosue (two of those reasons are named Rove and Libby). Writing a harsh tell-all memoir of the Bush years is just good business sense at this point. You only need to look back at the anemic sales of Ari Fleischer’s rosy, no-tell memoir of his White House years to realize that–and Fleischer’s low-seller came out at a time when Bush’s approval rating was higher than 28 percent.
So kudos to McClellan. His book displays a calculating mind that was never much in evidence in the White House press room.
McClellan is, at best, as prostitute. If he thought these things were wrong at the time, he had a duty to fight to stop it and, if overruled, resign in protest and inform Congress. He didn’t do that. He gladly enjoyed the perquisites of power and is now cashing in by betraying the confidence of his former bosses and colleagues. He’s possessed of all the moral fiber of a jailhouse snitch.