I was stunned this week when the news came out about Scott McClellan's tell-all book about his days as George W. Bush's chief spokesman. Of all the Bush press spokesmen, first Ari Fleisher, then McClellan, Tony Snow and now Dana Perino, McClellan seemed the least likable, but also the least likely to turn on Bush. His dogged repetition of talking points that were obviously slanted, if not outright lies, got very tiresome. After the news this week, I now believe that McClellan's problem was that he has a conscience. His internal discomfort about the lies he was asked to spread about the Bush White House was displayed with every muscle in his face.
Those who claim that McClellan turned on Bush to further his own career, have not paid much attention to what happens to whistle blowers. Nobody likes a snitch, and after some short term publicity, most wind up wishing they had kept their mouths shut. In this case, the mainstream press does not like McClellan stating that it should have asked more hard questions. While a weasel will always be a weasel, the revelations by McClellan ring true. The Bush Administration had an advance look at the book so they have had plenty of time to come forward with evidence to rebut McClellan's book. By and large, their counter attack has consisted of fake sorrow ("This isn't the Scott McClellan we knew") but little, if any, demonstration that what he has said is untrue.
Another interesting point I have been pondering is how McClellan is only the latest of a long line of Bush insiders to come clean with what has been happening in the White House for the last eight years. I had not read any of their books, but decided I need to educate myself, so I put my name in the queue for the McClellan book at the library. I am number 13 on the list, so in the meantime, I decided to check out some of the other books.
The first one, which I am actually listening to as a book-on-tape, is Richard A. Clarke's book, Against All Enemies. Clarke, you may or may not recall, had a long career, starting with Ronald Reagan's administration. He was named as the chief counter-terrorism adviser under Bill Clinton's administration and continued in that post at the beginning of the Bush Administration, although Bush came into office paying little attention to terrorism and downgraded his position from cabinet level. Clarke says in the first chapter that it took from January, 2001, when Bush was inaugurated until the week before the 9/11 attacks to even get a cabinet level meeting about terrorist threats.
Clarke was in charge of coordinating the response to the 9/11 attacks and determining what needed to be done to make sure such attacks were not successful again. This is what he says in Chapter One happened the day after 9/11:
"I expected to go back to the (White House) to a round of meetings examining what the next attack could be; what our vulnerabilities were; what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than going after Al Queda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to try to promote their agenda about Iraq."
Here we are, five years after the invasion, more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost; hundreds of billions of dollars spent and no end in sight, and the best the defenders of the invasion can come up with is that "everyone" thought we should go into Iraq. No, "everyone" didn't think that. Richard A. Clarke didn't. Barack Obama didn't. Hillary Clinton did. John McCain did.
When I get to McClellan's book, I'll quote directly from the book, but my understanding from the news reports is that he admits that the truth was misrepresented to the American public. How much more evidence do we need until the American public will demand some accountability for the lies?