Now, McClellan a harsh critic of Bush

In a memoir that will be published next week, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan hits out at the president and the administration he once served.


Alex Koppelman
May 28, 2008 4:22AM (UTC)

Once, Scott McClellan was the White House press secretary. From that perch, he helped the Bush administration get out its message. Now he's on the other side; his memoir, which will be published next week, reportedly contains some particularly damning criticisms of President George W. Bush and his administration.

The Politico obtained a copy of McClellan's book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" at a Washington, D.C. bookstore. The paper's Mike Allen has a look at the book's contents -- it includes, among other things, a sharp take on the selling of the war in Iraq (and the way the media bought into it), suggestions about what was going on in the White House during the Valerie Plame scandal and criticism of the handling of Bush's public response to Hurricane Katrina.

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"[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," McClellan writes. "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."

McClellan became a figure in the Plame scandal because his public denials that Karl Rove or Scooter Libby played a role in the revelation of the former CIA agent's outing were later shown to be untrue. "I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood," McClellan writes. "It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively. I didn't learn that what I'd said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later."

McClellan also writes about a 2005 meeting between Rove and Libby. The two, McClellan suggests, may have been trying to determine their stories as attention focused on them for the Plame outing:

Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], ... Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. 'You have time to visit?' Karl asked. 'Yeah,' replied Libby.

I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately... I don't know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic? Like the whole truth of people's involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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