Shorter Scott McClellan: I’m shocked, shocked that the Bush White House was filled with scheming, dishonest people, which I never figured out ’till later, and I’m really upset Rove and Libby put me out in front to mislead the American people while I was confused. Still, Bush was a good guy but his advisers and the media served him badly.
At her emptywheel blog, Marcy has already dissected and put in detailed context McClellan’s titillating story about Karl Rove pulling Scooter Libby aside, possibly to get their Plame stories straight while both were being investigated by Fitzgerald. McClellan is only speculating on what happened at that "unusual" meeting, but be sure to check out emptywheel’s analysis of McClellan’s hints of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
For three years, Scott McClellan stood before the White House press corp and humiliated himself, saying things he knew were probably false or misleading, while pretending that by dissembling for his President he was serving his country. In now confessing his sins and spins, he still clings to the hope of redemption by saying, gosh, they meant well, even if they were all lying about everything.
Among other tidbits from yesterday, I was struck by this classic example of still loyal advisers protecting the President by attributing most of what went wrong to the advisers and never the President. But are we really expected to believe this (via Politico)?
“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.”
Confused? One wonders how a President could confuse a propaganda campaign with telling the American people the truth about whether we need to go to war. Presidents are supposed to know the difference, even if they feel they have to throw in a little propaganda to get support for a war they honestly believe cannot be avoided. FDR did that, but he knew the difference and the public later validated his judgment about the need to stop Hitler. But McClellan suggests Bush didn’t know the difference because his advisers served him badly.
If that is true, I frankly don’t know why we’re spending so much time vetting the personal experiences and judgment of Presidential candidates, since none of them will be the responsible parties. We obviously need a process to vet their advisers, and it doesn’t matter who we elect as President.
But of course, it’s not true. By describing a White House overflowing with liars, schemers and ideological propagandists who not only lied to poor Scottie but also propagandized — lied to — the public about everything, McClellan makes it impossible to absolve Bush. Bush certainly understood the difference between propaganda and truth, just as he understood the deliberate choice to govern in "permanent campaign mode" from day one, because that’s what he and everyone he chose to surround him knew how to do. Continual lying to win an election fit the President’s style.
As much as we might agree about how badly the media failed the country by not questioning the White House claims about the war (or anything else), it’s disingenuous for McClellan to blame the Administration’s appalling dishonesty on a lax "liberal" media.
“The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”
Yes, but McClellan seems to be arguing that the regime would have stopped lying if only the media had called them on it. We know from the last two or three years that after hundreds of stories revealing this Administration’s endless scandals, its subversion of the Justice Department and its astonishing mendacity, the dishonesty hasn’t abated one bit.
The only remedy for an unaccountable, out of control Presidency is in the Constitution, put there expressly for this purpose, but Congress foolishly left that off the table. So even if Scottie were completely honest and spilled the beans on the whole rotten crew, we can’t assume it would’ve changed a thing.