The Scott McClellan Confessional

Former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, has joined the ranks of Bush administration castoffs to write a tell-all book illuminating their role in degrading our Democracy. While this book is a particularly damning reminiscence, it is also a stab at absolution. Here a few of the atrocities that McClellan is revealing while asserting he had little to do with them:

  • McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
  • He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
  • He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”
  • He asserts Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
  • He opines that “the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder […] war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”
  • He admits that “the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

Much of McClellan’s revelations are couched in his insistence that he was as much a victim as the nation. He asserts that Rove, Cheney, and Libby, were allowing him to go before the press corps and dispense information that they knew was false. In the big picture it doesn’t matter all that much if he is telling the truth now. His complicity is irrevocable whether it was due to intention or stupidity. And his superiors in the White House are still just as guilty.

The response from the White House is the predictable refrain that McClellan is:

  • untrustworthy and disloyal.
  • just trying to sell a book.
  • ignorant and out of the loop.
  • a liar.
  • to blame for not having spoken up sooner.

But the response from the media is somewhat more nuanced. Considering that it was the media that dropped the ball and allowed BushCo to peddle lies, you would think that they might be more repentant. But only Katie Couric, amongst the network anchors, seems to acknowledge any responsibility. Couric called it “one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. Our responsibility is sometimes to go against the mood of the country and ask hard questions.” By contrast, Charlie Gibson said he thinks “the media did a pretty good job.” and that “it’s convenient now to blame the media.” Brian Williams said that you have to take into account the “post-9/11” mindset. No, Brian … You don’t! You only have to do your job responsibly and ethically. Anything less is (and was) a disservice to your viewers, the nation, and the world.

Another member of the media, as of this year, Karl Rove had his say about McClellan as well:

“This doesn’t sound like Scott. It really doesn’t — not the Scott McClellan I’ve known for a long time. … It sounds like a left-wing blogger. …If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them. And frankly, I don’t remember him speaking up about these. I don’t remember a single word.”

I think we can expect Rove’s memory to be equally faulty in the months to come as he battles congressional subpoenas and the other legal hazards hovering around him. And if there is something we can be assured that Rove would forget, it is anything having to do with “moral qualms.” However, it was thoughtful of Rove to praise McClellan’s writing as sounding like “a left-wing blogger.”

The book will be released next week, and there is likely to be a lot more discussion in the days to come. It must be considered a net positive that an insider like McClellan is blowing the whistle on the criminals in the White House. But it would be going to far to buy into his claims of victimhood. I would support a grant of immunity if he spilled all he knows before a grand jury, but short of that, he is just another member of the gang.


6 thoughts on “The Scott McClellan Confessional

  1. Even before the Iraq war, many people knew that Bush was manipulating the information concerning WMDs but to add on to what McCellan had shared, there was a conspiracy.. Bush was only part as well as the media and FCC.. The Iraq war wasn’t about WMDs, spread of democracy, not even about oil…but according to Phillip Zelikow who was on the 911 commission “It was all about Israel” and the NWO agenda.
    New World Order
    Beware of the Beast

  2. It was a different time immediately post-9/11, of course. Bush was untouchable with approval ratings through the roof surrounded by flag wavers eager to attack the patriotism of anyone who questioned the policies of our terrorist fighting president.

    The sad thing is the press knew Bush’s weapons of mass destruction sales pitch was a load. I saw both NPR and Newsweek stick their necks out to poke holes in Bush’s evidence.

    However, NPR didn’t stick their neck out too far. The story I heard was late night coverage of Colin Powell’s presentation before the UN, not prime time Morning Edition or All Things Considered coverage. Newsweek got the you-know-what stomped out of them for not not waving the flag in sync with everyone else.

    It was a time when I had red-faced conservatives shout me down as “al Qaeda” for daring to question Bush during the lead-in to the war. Even friends got so mad at me they couldn’t see straight.

    The media is about ratings. Is there any percentage in being right? Is Newsweek seeing a big payoff? NPR?

    Anyone who stuck their neck out to point out Emperor Bush had no cloths shouldn’t hold their breath waiting to receive any dividends. They’re punishing Bush in the polls for the embarrassment but, otherwise, would prefer not deal with it.

    So let’s get to some real hard news like Angelina Jolie giving birth to twins. 😉

    • “…surrounded by flag wavers eager to attack the patriotism of anyone who questioned the policies of our terrorist fighting president.”

      That describes the media perfectly. The same sentiment was expressed by CNN’s Jessica Yellin:

      “The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.”

  3. Speaking of flag-wavers, it’s fun to watch the proud flag pin wearers over at Fox News flak for Bush on McClellan’s book. O’Reilly’s softball interview of Foxie contributor Karl Rove on the topic is a must-see classic.

  4. McClellan doesn’t get any points from me for this book. It’s sad that I have to agree with Repuglicans that if he had issues he should have came out with them years ago.

    However, I am glad that he’s confirming a lot of our suspicions. Now if we can get those cowards in congress to subpoena his ass and get some testimony out of him that we can use to start impeachments.

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