Friday, May 30, 2008

The Swiftboating of Scott McClellan

I admit, I have yet to read Scott McClellan's scathing memoir What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, which is highly critical of President George W. Bush's administration -- especially its handling of the Iraq War. As former White House Press Secretary McClellan (right) put it: "This was a presidency that veered badly off course. It was something that all of us would have preferred didn't happen." I've only read selected snippets published in newspapers across America. But I'm rushing out to buy my copy today (I promise I'll weigh in on it as soon as I read it). It's clear that McClellan has stirred up a hornets' nest and already the neocons are doing their best to swiftboat him.

Bush Loyalists launched a counter-attack while the printing press that churned out McClellan's book was still hot. Some asked why McClellan didn't voice criticisms while he was still the White House press secretary. Others insisted he's just trying to sell books and all he cares about is the almighty buck. And there are certain Bushites -- like Karl Rove -- who believe liberal book editors in New York hijacked his manuscript and ghost wrote it for him. Finally, some of McClellan's critics, such as Newt Gingrich, questioned the veracity of his claims. As Gingrich told FoxNews' Hannity and Colmes, "
I don't have a great deal of faith that he is telling you and me the truth tonight any more than he apparently was telling us the truth back when he was saying things that he now says weren't true." Notice that Gingrich cannot pinpoint any lies or distortions or even half-truths in the book (who knows if he has even read it?). It's loads of fun to watch the Bushites squirming. Failing to locate any skeletons in McClellan's closet (other than serving in the Bush administration), they're now scrambling to find whatever damning little tidbit they can in a pathetic effort to discredit the book.

Easily the most ludicrous dismissal of McClellan came from the Wall Street Journal, which -- instead of countering McClellan's claims (like the White House, it can't) -- ripped into the book's publisher, PublicAffairs:
"You can tell the Democratic presidential race is all but over. Cable television has returned to 24/7 coverage of whether President Bush lied us into war in Iraq. The latest peg is the Texan-bites-Bush story of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's memoir. ... We'd merely note that the book's publisher is PublicAffairs, an imprint founded by left-wing editor Peter Osnos and which has published six books by George Soros. PublicAffairs is owned by Perseus Books, which is owned by Perseus LLC, a merchant bank whose board includes Democrats Richard Holbrooke and Jim Johnson, who is now doing Barack Obama's vice presidential vetting. One of Perseus's investment funds, Perseus-Soros Biopharmaceutical, is co-managed with Mr. Soros."

If that's the best these sorry Bushites can come up with, then maybe they'd better set up a real-estate office down in Florida and start selling some of that prime Everglades land for new houses. It makes about as much sense to build luxury condos in the marshland as it does to perpetuate the horrific war that drags on day after day in Iraq. From where I'm sitting, this is yet another reason to hope for an Obama Victory come November.

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