The Politico has a review of Scott McClellan’s scathing memoir “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.” The story of how Politico got the book before its publication date is a little bit of a mystery. Apparently, they purchased it from a Washington bookstore. What was said store doing selling the book before its publication date? I imagine the publisher is pissed. Regardless, McClellan apparently gives his insights into the Plame leak, the run up to the war, and his general feeling about the administration.
McClellan said that Bush ran his administration like a campaign. As the Politico notes:
McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush’s liberal critics and even charges: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.
“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.”
It is one thing for the disenfranchised left to complain about the lack of anti-war voices in the run up to the war and how the mainstream media left many of the administration claims about Iraq go unchallenged. Coming from McClellan, it is hard to call his endorsement of such views anything other than “blame the victim.”
We sometimes forget the incredible amount of national unity the United States had in the wake of 9/11. The need for unity; the need to put disagreements aside and work together for a common purpose in the name of our collective safety was real, is real. Like McClellan, I have no doubt Bush is an “authentic” and “sincere” man. I have no doubt he believed he was doing the right thing and felt he had a messianic purpose to lead this nation. However, he did something that was unforgivable. He cooked the books, excluded those who disagreed, kept the whole story secret and filtered facts to build the case for his desired purpose.
In short, he used us. He didn’t rule by consensus. He ruled by marginalizing all those who disagreed. He never started administrating. He just continued campaigning. Anyone who dared question his proposed course of action stood accused of helping the terrorists. The disaster he caused, with his war of choice, is larger than that caused by the terrorists he demonized. Despite Bush’s views on the matter, criticism and informed public debate is essential. It helps vet the thinking and ferrets out the bad ideas and mistaken assumptions. Bush wanted none of it. Of course, what should we expect from a failed oil man?
Bush was also helped by Fox News. If the “liberal” media failed to report something, they risked being scooped by Fox and the only thing worse in mainstream media than being wrong, is getting beat to a story.
Bush remains sure that history will vindicate him. I highly doubt that it will. The Iraq War will forever be Bush’s War in much the same way Vietnam was President Johnson’s. If Bush doesn’t have his foreign policy record to hang his hat on, it is hard to imagine the range of domestic crises throughout his presidency would bolster his record. Years from now, I think will be to pull a McClellan, blame others in the administration and ultimately those who elected him. He may have a point, although it doesn’t change the fact we were betrayed.