Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week, says that President Bush “veered terribly off course” and relied on “propaganda” to sell the Iraq war. In the book—What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception—McClellan also says that some of the things he told the press in the White House briefing room turned out to be “badly misguided.” (Politico)
What the commentators said
The only surprising thing about McClellan’s assertions is that he “chose to reveal them,” said Jason Zengerle in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. At this point, it’s not really news that “Bush displayed a ‘lack of inquisitiveness’; the administration operated in a ‘permanent campaign mode,’” or that “the Iraq war ‘was not necessary.’” McClellan was once considered a Bush loyalist, but “writing a harsh tell-all memoir of the Bush years is just good business sense at this point.” Maybe McClellan really has a more “calculating mind” than he displayed in the White House press room.
Thus begins the Bush-bashing press corps’ rehabilitation of Scott McClellan, said Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard’s The Blog. When he was just another faithful young Bushie, Washington reporters wrote him off as “a nice guy who was in way over his head,” and they weren’t quite as kind “in their analysis of his intellect.” Now that he has turned on his old boss, “expect him to be praised as insightful and wise beyond his years in the coming weeks.”
This is only the beginning of a “the spate of memoirs that always roll out near the end of an administration,” said CBS News’ Political Animal blog. But this one “will take on an even greater ‘every-man-for-himself’ quality,” as “Bush will see half of his underlings or more trash him to every publisher in the country. If someone like McClellan, who was at Bush's side from the Texas days, is willing to go nuclear to preserve his own reputation, it'll be a free-for-all."