Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The mouthpiece strikes back

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From The Politico's isn't-this-exciting (?!) preview of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

And that there was a Rove-Libby conspiracy to deceive the public, and McClellan himself, over their their roles in the Plame Game (you remember, the Valerie Plame CIA leak case).

Well, fine. Guest blogger dday at Kevin Drum's place thinks we could be in for a reputation-saving "free-for-all" as more and more Bush Administration memoirs are published, and that may be true, but, in this case, McClellan's insider revelations only confirm what most people already know: of course the Iraq War has been a disaster; of course propaganda was used to sell the war; of course the media were too soft on Bush in the run-up to the war; of course Rove and Libby were in on the Plame leak. Hardly dramatic stuff.

David Corn thinks McClellan should apologize for being "an enabler." Well, maybe, and Corn makes some good points, but all he was was a mouthpiece for the warmongers and propagandists. And now he's profiting off having been such a mouthpiece, and, obviously, he wants to sell some books.

We'll see if there's more to the book than these few nuggets of obviousness, but let's keep in mind that all we have so far is a preview at a fairly friendly media outlet, one that seems to be helping him sell books. Come on, do you really think a long-time loyalist like McClellan has betrayed Bush in any meaningful way? Do you really think the book is an open and honest look at what went on in Bush's White House?

It's all just marketing. There's no good reason to read McClellan's book, let alone to pay money to buy it in the first place, and so it's being sold to us as a work of betrayal, or conscience.

Sure, maybe he's located his conscience, or decided to cleanse himself publicly, and maybe he wants to save his reputation, or whatever he thinks his reputation should be, or distance himself from some of what he did, which he may or may not know was wrong, but the mouthpiece is still a mouthpiece, now out for himself, cashing in, and one doubts that he is all that different from what he used to be, not so long ago, when he was saying what the warmongers and propagandists told him to say.


Update: Anderson Cooper made a big deal of this tonight, and, well, I suppose it is a big deal, or at least a much bigger deal that I suggest here. I still think McClellan's criticisms are obvious, but it is significant that he has made them in such a public way. And it is significant, too, that the media are making a big deal of them, though of course they are playing right into his hands (and his publisher's hands) in promoting the book and in focusing so heavily on the juicy bits.

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