Former Press Secretary to George Bush Scott McClellan has written a new book, due out in June, titled What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. Scott McClellan was deputy press secretary for George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas, and served as his traveling press secretary during Bush’s 2000 Presidential campaign before taking over as White House Press Secretary after Ari Fletcher left in 2003, so you could say he is a “loyal Bushie.”
It is not kind.
According to the Washington Post, “Bush is depicted as an out-of-touch leader, operating in a political bubble, who has stubbornly refused to admit mistakes,” and “able to convince himself of his own spin.”
The New York Times sums it up by stating “President Bush ‘convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,’ and has engaged in ‘self-deception’ to justify his political ends.
The White House said McClellan is “obviously disgruntled,” although they didn’t actually take the time to deny the claims in the book were factual. (hmmmm . . . )
He criticizes much of the Bush Administration, from Hurricane Katrina (the Bush administration “spent most of the first week in a state of denial” and “allowed our institutional response to go on autopilot.”) to the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame for political purposes (“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.”)
But based upon news sources, much of the book seems to be centered on the lies and misinformation the Bush administration used to lead us into an unjustifiable war in Iraq. He accuses the administration of staging a “political propaganda campaign” designed for “manipulating sources of public opinion” to “downplay the major reason for going to war.”
Ultimately, even McClellan himself admits the Iraq War was a “fateful misstep” and a “serious strategic blunder.” Although he doesn’t lay blame squarely on Bush’s shoulders. He also (justifiably) criticizes the media for going along with the story too easily, claiming they “become complicit enablers of [Washington’s] polarizing effects . . . If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq . . . 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.”
“Over that summer of 2002,” he writes, “top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the President’s advantage.”
The effect was the White House “almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.” They “allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie . . . What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”
“[Bush] 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. The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise.”
Well no shit.