Before there was Dana Perino, before Tony Snow, was the sublime Ari Fleischer's replacement, Scott McClellan. As a sort of press secretary groupie, I have to say he never really did it for me. He was the young-looking, usually grumpy, never quite comfortable press secretary for George W. Bush from July 2003 to April 2006. But he's got a new book out, detailing perhaps what exactly was making him so crabby and shifty — and it might not be such a good news cycle for Bush.
It's called, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception and it's the first critical account from a member of the tight circle of Texans that have surround Bush from the beginning. As the voice for the administration during the turn of public perception on the Iraq war, as well as Hurricane Katrina, McClellan's criticism is pegged pointedly to the truth and honesty factor. To see what he has to say, read more.
McClellan calls the decision to invade Iraq a “serious strategic blunder,” but not the biggest mistake the Bush White House made. He awards that to “a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.” He says Bush “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,” and has engaged in “self-deception.”
As for the time surrounding the Valerie Plame leak, McClellan says of Bush:
He too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.
For his role, McClellan criticizes himself too saying, "I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be." The book is out next Tuesday. As McClellan's departure from the White House seemed not wholly his idea, could the book be revenge — or just the dose of reality we need? Do you want to read the book?