Sunday, June 1, 2008
Scott McClellan's memoir of his years as a White House insider is the most wounding book yet on the President
By Rupert Cornwell
".....Most recent presidential spokesmen have burst into print after leaving office. Some are bent on settling scores, others indulge in unrestrained hero worship. But none has ever turned on his former boss as comprehensively as McClellan, saddened but, he says, at last wiser as he takes apart the Iraq war and "a presidency that veered terribly off course".
Democrats have been delighted, Republicans and the Bush administration have been enraged and appalled. But their fury, and the sensation the book has caused, arises not so much from what is in the book – its critique basically merely confirms what has become conventional wisdom about Bush and his war – but from the identity of the author.
For Scott McClellan is no outsider. Like Bush's closest advisers Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, he was part of a Texan praetorian guard that accompanied the 43rd President from the Governor's mansion in Austin to the most powerful job in the world......
Now, he describes the war as "unnecessary" and a "strategic blunder". Bush had made up his mind to attack Saddam Hussein early on. He and his team (including McClellan) sold it by "propaganda", abandoning "candour and honesty" for the distortions of the permanent political campaign. Indeed one of Bush's hallmarks, according to his former spokesman, is an ability to deceive himself – in the case of Iraq, to convince himself that the case for war was far stronger than it was......
The vicious attacks from Bush loyalists and others who worked with McClellan that he was out of the loop and thus doesn't know what he's talking about, only confirm the obsession. For if the very spokesman of the President is not told what the President is thinking and doing, then how on earth is the country to be told the truth?.....
Two individuals in particular will not be happy with this "clear-eyed view". One is Condoleezza Rice, who occupied the crucial post of national security adviser in the run-up to the war. Rice, says McClellan, was "more interested in accommodating the President's instincts and ideas than in questioning them or educating him"......."