victim or perp?

Posted on Wednesday 28 May 2008

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."

McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception," that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president’s inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative’s name.

The book, coming from a man who was a tight-lipped defender of administration aides and policy, is certain to give fuel to critics of the administration, and McClellan has harsh words for many of his past colleagues. He accuses former White House adviser Karl Rove of misleading him about his role in the CIA case. He describes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being deft at deflecting blame, and he calls Vice President Cheney "the magic man" who steered policy behind the scenes while leaving no fingerprints
What I want to feel is glad that Scott McClellan is coming clean. From the previews, it seems as though he’s written a candid book that might awaken a few more Americans to the long absent truth. He’s a familiar face, and even during the endless days of lying like a sailor, he projected the persona of a fundamentally decent person. He apparently takes the position that he was deceived by Bush and company – a victim of Washington’s Culture of Deception.

What I actually do feel is something different than glad. I’m an old guy living in a log cabin in rural Georgia. I haven’t been to Washington in years except to change planes. And I knew what Scott McClellan was saying was baloney from the start. It’s not something I thought. It’s something I knew. So I’m pretty sure that Scott McClellan [who is no fool] had more than an inkling that what he was saying was evasion at best, and usually simply untrue.

I’m balking at full victim status for Scotty. But I’ll wait until the book is available for a full judgment. Who knows? Maybe there’s a line in it that says, "I know I was part of Washington’s Culture of Deception and I’m in intensive psychotherapy to fully explore how I deluded myself into telling those obvious lies day after day. I know that those lies I told helped support a system that has resulted in massive human suffering and countless deaths. I’m very sorry for what I’ve done and I hope this book makes a partial amends for my participation in this debacle."

Those pictures up there are how I’ll remember Scott McClellan.

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