Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On McClellan

You've heard some of the prominent members of the Bush administration, past or present, criticize former press secretary Scott McClellan for the revelations in his new book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

Karl Rove (former Deputy Chief of Staff and chief strategist): "First of all, this doesn't sound like Scott. It really doesn't. Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else. It sounds like a left-wing blogger. Second of all, you're right. If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them."

Dan Bartlett (former White House counselor): "Scott McClellan was not the press secretary. He was the deputy press secretary who dealt with domestic issues. So, he would not have even been really have access to the types of meetings and deliberations that the president participated in."

Dana Perino (White House spokeswoman): "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew."

Ari Fleischer (former White House press secretary): "I'm just scratching my head about this book. There are just parts of here that just do not sound like Scott McClellan. So it's got his name on it, and Scott knows that, he's said the chips will fall will they may. ... But on principle and on policy, this doesn't make any sense to me because if it did, I think Scott would have expressed it privately and repeatedly."

The attacks on McClellan have one thing in common: no one denies what he said- no one has said that it is simply not true. Fleischer comes closest- it "doesn't make any sense to me" obviously comes from someone not in a position to know one way or another. One of Rove's remarks is the most amusing: "if he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken out about them." Here the rhetorical question of MSNBC's David Shuster is appropriate: "are Administration officials trying to do with McClellan what officials did to war critic Joe Wilson?" And to the attacks upon Scott McClellan because he participated, however unwittingly, in the Administration's coverrup, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked "what's wrong with a whore escaping the whorehouse?"

But I give the Bushies some credit for their response to Scott McClellan's charges: in choosing not to deny categorically the accusations, they displayed an uncharacteristic reluctance to lie.

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