Has everybody had enough of former White House spokesperson Scott McClellan? The pre-release of his tell-all book, What Happened? was the lead story on all three major networks. Later in the evening it was the main topic of the cable TV talk shows. And the following morning it was an above-the-fold headline story in every major newspaper in the U.S. â€“ and many foreign papers as well. On Sunday he was on â€œMeet the Press,â€ then gave another lengthy repetitive interview on C-SPAN.
Basically, as Scott tells it, he resigned because he was disillusioned over the cover-ups of various invasions by the U.S., the general dishonesty of the Bush administration, and the fact that he was lied to about almost everything, then had to face a phalanx of reporters every week. The media believed at the time that McClellan was forced to resign because of his inept handling of the Valerie Plame episode as well as the Hurricane Katrina tragedy.
The facts seem to indicate that McClellan was forced to resign, that he was extremely unpopular among the press corps, and had adopted a rather tight-lipped and imperious attitude toward members of the fifth estate. The current press secretary, Dana Perino, whom McClellan claims to have hand-picked, is equally distant and inscrutable, although she is known among members of the media as the â€œIcy Hot Babe,â€ referring to her good looks and aloof attitude.
It was Perino who attached the label â€œdisgruntledâ€ to McClellan and added, â€œThis is not the Scott we knew,â€ implying that McClellan lost some of his marbles and became confused and thus mangled interpretations of many White House policy decisions. Former presidential contender Bob Dole wrote a vicious letter to McClellan, calling him a â€œmiserable creatureâ€ who didnâ€™t have the guts to quit.
Some familiar with the publishing industry say the original draft of What Happened? was too bland and non-controversial to make the best-seller lists. So the publisher, it is alleged, persuaded McClellan to flesh out the book with allegations of the president lying about the reasons for invading Iraq, and target other administration officials who also employed out-and-out deceptions on a regular basis.
While McClellan potentially will make a bundle from this overly-hyped book, one wonders who will dare touch him in the future? If the Bush administration employed deceptive practices, what can be said about previous administrations who kept essential information from the public. How did Vice President Harry Truman feel when he found out about the atomic bomb only after Roosevelt died? Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury (and the American people). John F. Kennedy lied about the Bay of Pigs invasion. Lyndon Johnson lied about an â€œunprovokedâ€ attack on an American warship in the Gulf of Tonkin. And Ronald Reagan lied about trading weapons for hostages during the Contrasâ€™ war in Nicaragua.
Examples such as these can be traced to colonial times, so Scott McClellan either never cracked open a history book, or else was the most naÃ¯ve press secretary ever to serve in the White House. He apparently had few qualms about parroting the administration line as long as he collected his $168,000 annual salary and enjoyed the many perks of being one of the most recognizable inside the beltway flacks in America.
There is very little that is positive to be said of Scott McClellanâ€™s performance as the administrationâ€™s spokesperson and of the manner in which he sought retaliation for his ouster. The widespread and detailed publicity given to his book will make made the purchase of it redundant for many potential buyers. In the years ahead, after McClellan has drifted into obscurity, pundits will point to him as the poster boy for perfidy and disloyalty.