When Thirty Pieces of Silver Isn’t Enough
Vol: 80 Issue: 29 Thursday, May 29, 2008
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is a millionaire. He wasn’t a millionaire when he woke up Monday morning, but that was before his book debuted at #1 at Amazon.com.
Scott McClellan worked for Bush from 1999, when he signed on as a deputy in the governor’s press office, until he left in 2006 to “pursue a career in the private sector,” the standard Washington euphemism for “clean out your desk, you’re outta here.”
McClelland’s ‘new career path’ made him an overnight millionaire — and all he had to do was sell out the people who made it possible.
McClellan wrote a ‘tell-all’ book about his seven years with the Bush administration, one that, if true, nullifies his own credibility.
If the Bush administration was as crooked as his book makes them out to be, then the fact he spent seven years as its mouthpiece paints him as a self-serving opportunist at best, or a co-conspirator at worst.
“History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder,” McClellan wrote in “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington s Culture of Deception.”
“No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact,” he wrote in the preface, before contradicting himself by asserting confidently, “What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”
Either McClellan doesn’t know with absolute certainty, or he does — and somehow, he manages to make both claims in the same breath. But McClellan’s book found many friends among the liberal mainstream media.
Noted the uber-liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution; “It is an extraordinarily critical book that questions Bush’s intellectual curiosity, his candor in leading the nation to war, his pattern of self-deception and the quality of his advisers.”
McClellan said that Bush’s top advisers, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “played right into his thinking, doing little to question it or cause him to pause long enough to fully consider the consequences before moving forward,” according to McClellan. “Contradictory intelligence was largely ignored or simply disregarded,” he wrote.
A reasonable person would recall that the alleged “contradictory evidence” was equally ‘ignored’ by every major intelligence service in the Western world. Which begs the question, were they all crooks, too? The Clinton administration believed Saddam had WMD.
A peek at the Congressional record reveals that so did John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, etc., etc. — BEFORE George Bush even came to office. Were they all liars? Co-conspirators?
Or were they deceived? If so, by whom?
In announcing the beginning of 1998’s “Operation Desert Fox” in which the US conducted a four-day sustained aerial bombardment of Baghdad, President Clinton told the nation;
“Saddam (Hussein) must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.”
Secretary of State Madeline Albright explained the objectives of the mission, saying;
“I don’t think we’re pretending that we can get everything, so this is – I think – we are being very honest about what our ability is. We are lessening, degrading his ability to use this. The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future. I think the president explained very clearly to the American people that this is the threat of the 21st century. [. . .] [W]hat it means is that we know we can’t get everything, but degrading is the right word.”
Did Bush convince them that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? If Bush didn’t deceive them, who did? McClellan doesn’t say, because if they weren’t equally deceived by the same evidence, his whole scenario collapses and Bush is simply one among many — not the mastermind McClellan makes him out to be.
The Iraq War didn’t take place in a vacuum — it began with the invasion of Kuwait, continued as an air war for another dozen years, and, barring the 2003 invasion and deposition of Saddam Hussein, would probably still be ongoing. In conjunction with the activities of Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and al-Qaeda, AND while US forces were fighting in Afghanistan.
How THAT could be a more desirable foreign policy situation than the one that now exists — with Iran flanked on both sides by US forces — instead of US forces in Afghanistan being surrounded by Iran, Pakistan and Saddam’s Iraq — is unfathomable to me. But it is evidently a dead-bang certainty to Scott McClellan.
“Rather than open this Pandora’s Box, the administration chose a different path not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth,” he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used “innuendo and implication” and “intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary.”
Invariably, the reviewers of the book assessed the truthfulness of the book’s allegations based on their own biases.
The Left embraced every word as gospel, right down to McClellan’s innuendos about Bush’s cocaine use, in which he recounts an overheard conversation in which Bush allegedly denied ‘remembering’ using cocaine.
(I don’t know where to begin to sort THAT one out. Not remembering something one claims didn’t happen in the first place is evidence of guilt?)
The Right ignored the contents of the book and focused their attacks on the author, whom they regard as a back-stabbing traitor, rather than, ummm, what’s the word I’m looking for. . . ?
The facts of the matter, as they really are, would be pretty hard to determine from McClellan’s account.
Much of what McClellan alleges involves McClellan engaging in speculation that he elevates to a level of certainty based on what he “knew” was in the minds of the various individuals in the Bush administration at the time.
It’s a kind of “reverse far-sightedness” that would have served him better had he exercised it by resigning in protest, which he mysteriously did not.
Instead, he stayed on for years, crafting the ‘propaganda’ he now accuses Bush of ‘manufacturing’ and dutifully delivering it up to the press corps every day.
There are those who would defend Bush no matter what the allegation, and there are those who would believe Osama bin Laden if he accused George Bush of sacrificing infants to the god Kronos. The truth lies somewhere in between.
McClellan’s book will have the Bush-haters dancing in the streets and has handed al-Qaeda another recruiting tool useful for indoctrinating jihadis on why America is the Great Satan, but one doesn’t have to be a blind Bush-supporter to read through the lines, here.
This isn’t a tell-all, it’s a sell-out. And McClellan got a lot more than the standard thirty pieces of silver for it, as well.
Look for “The Scott McClellan Show” — coming to MSNBC this fall.