"Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book."
Scott McClellan, March 22, 2004, speaking of Richard Clarke who had just written a book blasting the Bush administration.
HT: Michelle Malkin
With all the sturm und drang today about McClellan's perfidy and hypocrisy, which shortcomings in his character he seems to have left little reason to doubt, the chief questions about his book have gone unanswered. To wit: To what extent, exactly, is George Bush actually guilty of the malfeasances his former friend implicitly accuses him of and what evidence does he offer in support of the charges?
This is from the link:
McClellan issues this disclaimer about Bush: "I do not believe he or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people."
But most everything else he writes comes awfully close to making just this assertion, all the more stunning coming from someone who had been one of the longest-serving of the band of loyalists to come to Washington with Bush from Texas.
The heart of the book concerns Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, a determination McClellan says the president had made by early 2002 - at least a full year before the invasion - if not even earlier.
"He signed off on a strategy for selling the war that was less than candid and honest," McClellan writes in What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception.
McClellan says Bush's main reason for war always was "an ambitious and idealistic post-9/11 vision of transforming the Middle East through the spread of freedom." But Bush and his advisers made "a marketing choice" to downplay this rationale in favor of one focused on increasingly trumped-up portrayals of the threat posed by the weapons of mass destruction.
During the "political propaganda campaign to sell the war to the American people," Bush and his team tried to make the "WMD threat and the Iraqi connection to terrorism appear just a little more certain, a little less questionable than they were." Something else was downplayed as well, McClellan says: any discussion of "the possible unpleasant consequences of war - casualties, economic effects, geopolitical risks, diplomatic repercussions."
Did the administration really make a conscious "marketing choice" or were they simply predisposed to see in Iraq what they expected to see? What evidence does McClellan offer that the administration deliberately manipulated facts to deceive the American public? Given what was known at the time and in the wake of 9/11, was the administration trying to enact an idealistic geo-political agenda by invading Iraq or were they following a policy of "better safe than sorry" in toppling one of the most evil men since Adolf Hitler? Or were they doing both?
I'm sure Mr. McClellan will be asked to answer these questions and others like them before more than one Congressional committee.
Meanwhile, we may reflect on how sad it is that people who feel that trashing one's benefactor in print after declining the opportunity to honorably leave the service of the benefactor, is an act of personal betrayal when done by others, but who will themselves indulge in the same ignoble behavior when the opportunity presents itself to them.RLC