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McClellan's Dish and Tell: Required Reading for Campaign Aides

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book "What Happened" is seen at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 29, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Dan Balz
The people who should sit down and read Scott McClellan's blockbuster new book are the people least likely to take the time to do so right now. They are the aides to Barack Obama and John McCain -- and perhaps the two candidates themselves.

The Washington buzz over the book is predictable. Few things are juicier than a relentlessly critical portrait of a president and his administration by a supposedly loyal ex-adviser, and McClellan has delivered the goods in stunning fashion. "What Happened" is indeed the question people are asking about the man who seemed least likely to dish and tell.

The former White House press secretary is now under attack from those with whom he served -- for his disloyalty to the president, his failure to speak up in a timely fashion, his failure to share his doubts with others as events were unfolding, his decision to give Bush's enemies new ammunition and his apparent personality change since being pushed out of the White House.

They, of course, overlook or underplay what the Valerie Plame episode did to McClellan. His boiling anger at being hung out to lie about the incident is understandable. One wonders whether this book would have been written at all were it not for the deep, deep resentment he harbors toward those involved, particularly Karl Rove and Scooter Libby but also the president and vice president, for allowing -- even encouraging -- him to stand in the White House briefing room and unknowingly give out false information.

That painful affair is the spine of this tale, but the book is much, much more, though in many ways it is more surprising than revelatory. McClellan's portrayal of President Bush as intellectually incurious, politically shrewd, occasionally dense, sometimes disingenuous, often charming and always cocksure matches that of other critics, including a few ex-administration officials like former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill. But it is devastating nonetheless.

His critique of how the administration went to war in Iraq squares with what is now a widely accepted analysis, which is that there was a rush to war and that the administration marshaled the evidence based on faulty intelligence. What makes it sting is that McClellan attaches words and phrases such as "propaganda" and "manipulate" and "cycle of deception" to describe the public relations campaign of which he was a part.

But at heart, McClellan's book is the story of a modest and perhaps naïve political operative caught between personal loyalty and ambition on the one hand and a crisis of conscience that did not fully flower until after he put distance between himself and his White House days. Critics will easily see this as a combination of cowardice and cashing in, but McClellan offers an explanation that, if not fully plausible, goes some way in accounting for what he has written.

As he writes at one point, his views, particularly on Iraq, reflect those of many, many Americans, who might have had some initial doubts about how anxious the administration seemed about going to war but who trusted the wisdom and judgment of the president and an experienced team of advisers. Over time, his -- and the country's -- trust and confidence in Bush and his team was shattered by what has happened in Iraq.

McClellan is honest enough to admit that. If only others in the administration, in real time, had stepped back to ask, and answer, the question: What happened?

Why should this book be required reading in the Chicago and Crystal City headquarters of the Obama and McCain campaigns? The simple reason is that many of the people now staffing the two candidates share the same qualities and traits of a younger McClellan, caught up in the excitement of a great cause (to elect their candidate president) and not fully knowing what will await them if they end up in the next White House as aides to the 44th president of the United States.

McClellan's subtext is how the permanent campaign continues to define and sometimes destroy the governing process. His warning is that, having gone through the experience of a hard-fought campaign (and he admits that he has no reservations about the way campaigns are waged), it is virtually impossible for a new administration to set aside those tactics in the White House.

This will be a particular challenge if either Obama or McCain becomes president. Both have preached a new style of politics (albeit from different perspectives), but can either of them and their advisers break out of campaign mode if they end up in the White House?

McClellan points to the critical early decisions of the Bush team, in which the organization and techniques of the campaign were transferred into setting up the White House. Over the next five months, the Obama and McCain campaigns will be organized for combat, with war rooms, rapid response teams, over-the-top rhetoric and the magnification of sometimes trivial mistakes or differences. Will they not adopt similar techniques for selling the next administration's initiatives?

The other reason these advisers can profit from McClellan's book is by recognizing that a White House post means serving both the president and the public, and that the two sometimes come into conflict.

No president is without flaws. Bush's are, by now, well known, but so were those of his predecessors and so too will those of his successor. Certainly McCain and Obama have them. How do those around a president confront those flaws -- or compensate for them? Where is their loyalty owed?

The easy answer is to say that when the two come into conflict, resignation is the only answer. But that is generally for extreme cases, when an adviser fundamentally disagrees with a major policy decision. How will those around a president McCain or Obama (or Clinton in the remote chance that she wins) organize themselves to protect against the very things McClellan admits that he and others failed to do?

The euphoria of winning in November will cloud the minds of those heading into the next White House. They will feel like Masters of the Universe. Instead, they should remember the McClellan experience and the very human story he tells.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 29, 2008; 1:28 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Dan Balz's Take  
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Why in the world would Bush EVER admit to the truth when he has corporations and media covering his back and spinning lies and deception EVERY SINGLE DAY? They can't even spit out the word RECESSION...and believe me every American (albeit the top 1%)are feeling poorer, squeezed and fed up with anything to do with government - and all their daily LIES.
When will news media finally stop kissing the elephant'a backside?

Posted by: BKN | May 31, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

McClellan did the right thing in not revealing the issues he brings up in his book, while working for the administration, as it is certain that misfortune would have befallen him. Given the credulous behavior of this administration, his life would have ended prematurely. Remember the case in which a certain legal advisor to the Clinton's misteriously commited so-called suicide? That individual had knowledge that would have destroyed the Clinton White House.

Scott can rest assure that the same thing will not happen to him, because it would most definitely point to this administration as the culprits behind his death.

It took a lot of courage for him to write this book and if nothing else, we should all admire his courage in doing so.

Honesty in government has been lacking in too many administrations up to this point. We all need to rethink our views on who we really want in the White House this time around. We need change, but more importantly we need HONEST CHANGE.

Posted by: germanguy | May 30, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Bush's are, by now, not well known, that is clear, thanks in part to the Washington Post.

One - by one - the democrats are learning - the meaning of American injustice.

Posted by: Singing Senator | May 30, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Thank Bush for Obama Hussein, Mr. Sandy

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse


Scott McClellan: 90%

Bush Administration: 3%

Posted by: GET REAL | May 30, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

obama cant hide the fact that he doesnt care for america and its values...listen to his pastor and another pastor, 20 years he heard those messages of hate, now what do you expect.the terrorist do that to their children that is why this little kids grow up hating this country without realy knowing why...
american president must have unquestionable love for this country,willing and able to defend and stand alone if need be. obama cant do that not to mention his raw experience is way below---his only qualification is the media loves to build him up and put down another simply because she is a she...

Posted by: allan | May 30, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

What makes anyone think that Scott McClellan is telling the truth? He's selling a story and apparently trying to "get even" with those that removed him from his very lucrative position. For all the reasons I dislike all of those involved, including Mr. Bush, I find no reason to believe that Mr. McCellan has suddently "seen the light." And, his timing is well planned to create the most damage to the Republican Party, not that they haven't destroyed themsleves already.

Posted by: Judy | May 29, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

From: Head of State

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tactical Woundedness

I was just mulling over the response of the White House and former associated figures over the past 24 hours, and realized that there is a phenomenon, used in the past by this and other Administrations, which can be culled out, newly defined, that I shall call "Tactical Woundedness":

Tactical Woundedness: The use of an apparent sense of betrayal, often portrayed through the use of euphemistic insinuation, such as the word "puzzled" and "this isn't the ----- we knew", that is meant to serve as a form of indirection--to draw viewers of an event away from a damaging factual disclosure and towards an implication of personal disloyalty. This relies on the known effect of people to be influenced in the direction of attending to interpersonal conflict over factual inaccuracy--even when the factual inaccuracy may have a considerable impact on their own lives.

See also: Mock outrage; Captain Renault in Casablanca: "shocked, shocked".

If these individuals are indeed wounded, it is more likely an understated wounded pride at their "misunderestimation"--that such a receptive servant of the message, no doubt hired for his unquestioning fealty, would now actually remove the curtain from the proceedings that they expected that he would obediently continue to conceal.

Head of State

Posted by: Emily Stewart | May 29, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

It was coming. Scott had to let this out sooner or later like a big Bowel Movement. Can you imagine him carrying these fecal lies deep in the bowel of his soul for the rest of his life? Sure many don't like what Scott has to say but the fact is BM stinks.

Posted by: Froggie | May 29, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

The consistent message I am getting from the Loyal Bushies is that this could not be the real Scott McClellan because he was one of them, and now he's telling the truth. What more proof do you need that this is a fabrication (Propaganda Minister Rove claimed it sounded like left-wing bloggers) since everyone knows Loyal Bushies are sworn to never tell the truth?

Posted by: L Stock | May 29, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I think we all know what is really going on here. Its a known fact that Scott left the adminitration because he was sick of telling lies to the media. How long can someone with a conscience actually do this without becoming sick with themselves. Scott couldnt take the lies and cover ups so he left. I give him creds for stepping up and exposing the crooks he was working for.

Posted by: Inspector Gadget | May 29, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure this is on the way to becoming the biggest-seller ever by a WH Press Secy. (not that there's been much competition for that honorific). I once had the opportunity to turn down a proposal from Ron Ziegler. I'd have loved to have seen McClellan's.

BTW, most every public figure who writes a book has a ghost writer. Even if they don't, the mss. will be edited and copy-edited to the point of being a virtual rewrite. One guy who apparently didn't have a ghost is (surprise) Barack Obama. And BTW, one way to tell a good writer is by his publisher -- big-time houses don't take books from crummy authors (unless they have a track record of sales success, of course). Obama's publisher is Random House.

on a completely different line, anyone seen hide nor hair of svreader lately? Did he get banned from WaPo, or did he simply get laid off after the Oregon and KY primaries? Since I knew he was a GOP/Operation Chaos troll, my money's on the latter. But it is a fact he hasn't posted since May 14.

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 29, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

A bitter man who was fired and spent 2 years on unemployment. Pretty typical.

Posted by: muskrat | May 29, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

A bitter man who was fired and after two years of unemployment, needed some dough. Most, if not all, of this looks peculiarly ghost-written.

Posted by: muskrat | May 29, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

OMG!!! Does this mean that someone in this administration actually has a conscience and a soul?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Bush and the NeoCons weren't so much in a "continuous political campaign" as they were in a unilateral war campaign... with their own government and nation.

It's unlikely McCain or Obama will employ anything close to the same methods which shocked the conscience of Scott McClellan.

One last point... it's highly likely that McClellan was kept totally in the dark about the REALLY bad things.

Posted by: Paulie | May 29, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse



Why: The DNC might decide to bend the
rules back to Hillary's favor to include
Florida and exclude Michigan.

When: Saturday, May 31

Location: Mariott Washington DC


2000 The Presidential election was so close
that the Supreme Court decided who would
be our President. We got shafted with
the choice of Bush.

2004 Another close Presidential race is
decided by one state (Ohio). Questionable
voting machine practices tipped the election
towards Bush's favor.

If we stand by, and allow the DNC to
carry on this tradition of raping our
Democracy... WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE!!!

Show up in support of DEMOCRACY - SHOW UP
IN OPPOSITION OF THE Hillary Fascists!!!

Our country is a country of laws and
founded on personal and communal

We do NOT live in Russia - Our elections
deserve to be fair and balanced. Allowing
Hillary anything out of these two elections
would prove that we are now a Theocratic Corporate Fascist State!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

From: Head of State

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Et Tu, Scotty...

From the Post:

"Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."

McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president's inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative's name."

It would be utterly inconsistent to praise McClellan for his revelations, now that he needed to find something sensational from his anxiously subservient, painful-to-watch tenure as Press Secretary, which at best could only evoke sympathy for his agonized predicament. It might have helped in eliciting such praise if these revelations had emerge at some point between the end of his tenure and the beginnings of promotion for the book.

Ironically, in now falling to the likely demands of his current masters for something to add spice and sales power to an otherwise agonizing episode, one might posit that he is repeating the same pattern that occurred during his work in the Administration. Nevertheless, this is a man who has demonstrated beyond doubt his characteristic fear of censure. That he comes forward with these accusations, despite putative motive, is of considerable note.

The claims that McClellan makes have the benefit of being supported by numerous contemporary and highly confirming reports (Woodward, Suskind et al). Now, the fact that even McClellan, the truest of camp followers, endorses them, gives them an additional bottom line power--the fearful, sweaty, anxious party line stalwart, who was also among those closest to the action, now confirms what all but the most deluded now must know.

McClellan, like other Press Secretaries before him, could have downplayed, soft pedaled, or diffused these critiques--as they did, in their books, which also had sales imperatives. He does not. Instead, he emphasizes and confirms the critical through-line narrative--a war, driven and unvetted by a lack of necessary curiosity regarding likely effects on our nation, our citizens and the world; a sales campaign yoked to this poorly vetted effort in the most cynical ("one doesn't unveil new products in August") fashion, and, overall, a brutal narrowness of vision, combined with the excitedly combative anti-intellectualism, masked by a shallow pose of ideological self-certainty (i.e. half-blindness) that characterized this administration.

Now, we are seeing the counterattack, the essential message being that they are "puzzled" that this does not "seem to be the Scott" they knew.

Presumably, this "Et tu, Scotty?" translates as an attack on his unwillingness to continue to faithfully toe the party line, in the face of significant evidence to the contrary--to maintain the fantasied walls of the court dominion--a change to be welcomed.

His willingness to express, in print, Bush's tendency to convince himself of what he wanted to believe, and this Administration's embrace of secrecy is a genuinely noble and a brave act.

But, ah, Scotty. The wreckage.

Head of State

Posted by: Emily Stewart | May 29, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Balz deliberately misses the point.
Thousands are dead and dying because of the Iraq invasion to no purpose.
No one cares about McClennan anymore. Its all about how this administration lied its way into this war and how the used the media including the Post to do it.

Posted by: NYT | May 29, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Any other sage advice Dan?

Posted by: ted | May 29, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse



Why: The DNC might decide to bend the
rules back to Hillary's favor to include
Florida and exclude Michigan.

When: Saturday, May 31

Location: Mariott Washington DC


2000 The Presidential election was so close
that the Supreme Court decided who would
be our President. We got shafted with
the choice of Bush.

2004 Another close Presidential race is
decided by one state (Ohio). Questionable
voting machine practices tipped the election
towards Bush's favor.

If we stand by, and allow the DNC to
carry on this tradition of raping our
Democracy... WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE!!!

Show up in support of DEMOCRACY - SHOW UP
IN OPPOSITION OF THE Hillary Fascists!!!

Our country is a country of laws and
founded on personal and communal

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Scotty's has a conscience after all or maybe it was just money. I tend to think it was more that he needed to come clean with the weight of the lies he was bearing.

I do have to respond to the below post which I found very offensive...

Posted by: Black Saint | May 29, 2008 6:06 PM

"Latinos are very racist and hate blacks."

I am a Latino and your characterization of them is completely inaccurate. The distinction between blacks and black latino's is alot less then the distinction between White Americans and Black Americans. Many Black Latinos find themselves with an identity crises when Black Americans can not relate or they can not relate because they are Latino Blacks and not American Blacks.

The largest source for racism among Latinos is towards the Native American Indian populations of South America. Now there is a long and embarassing history of that.

Posted by: ImpeachBushCheney | May 29, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Dan, don't you think the writers at the Post ought to sit down and read it too? Because you never know, if Obama and McCain read the book, they might well conclude that the White House press corps will do anything to advance their careers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Blacks had better recognize the facts & wake up ..Latinos are the new Blacks for Democrats politicians & they are deserting Blacks & pandering for the Latinos vote. . Obama would have a better chance of getting Independents & Republicans to vote for him than pandering for the Illegal Latino vote! We have let them Hi-Jack Blacks civil rights by equating walking across the border to the welfare office as the same as blacks struggle in slavery. Open borders and Amnesty will be the end of Blacks Civil rights and progress! Do not deceive yourself that Blacks and Latinos can make common cause because Latinos are very racist and hate blacks. As La Raza (the race) says everything for the race nothing for the rest! Check out the Racist hate organization La Raza manifesto! Then if further proof is required Google the Ethic cleansing of Blacks in LA by illegal Hispanics soon to be extended Nation wide!

Posted by: Black Saint | May 29, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Did George Washington carver invent the peanut? LOL!

Posted by: Shawanda | May 29, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

There is no way Scott McClellan could have written the book about President Bush. Haven't we been force fed to believe that there is no way anyone can remain in the presence of someone as influential as President Bush and not coming away believing as President Bush does. Are we to believe that McClellan had the free will to withstand the propaganda President Bush used to convince the American people to go to war. McClellan wasn't in President Bush's presence for twenty years, but influence is influence. Either you buy it or you don't. It appears by writing the book McClellan didn't buy what he calls President Bush's propaganda. If McClellan can come away and say he withstood the propaganda of President Bush's, why can't Obama say the same thing about Reverend Wright. We can't have it both ways. There is no one more influential then the President, and yet McClellan walked away without being brainwashed. Why is it so hard for Obama's attackers to believe the same thing about Obama.

Posted by: houstonian | May 29, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Bush/McCain is more of the same.

The usual problem Republicans in a Job over their pay grade.

Posted by: walker1 | May 29, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Ari Fleischer (sp?) already wrote a book. Needless to say, it was much better than Scott's book ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

white folks need to realize that they have ruined our govenment. it will take a strong black man to fix our country. just like the inventor of the peanut said, george washington carver, the negro can never be free until he is living in the white house.

Posted by: Lakisha | May 29, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I think its time to put pressure on Fleisher and Snow to come clean rather than have their consciences eat away at them over the years.

Posted by: Hebephrene | May 29, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

No surprise...typical Bush administration response...shoot the messenger.

Posted by: naomike | May 29, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse


Dan Bartlett stated this morning on "The TODAY Show" that McClellan never stated any of these concerns to him and as Deputy Press Secretary for DOMESTIC affairs prior to the Iraq invasion.

P.S. to WaPo -- I am curious as to the caption (above): who is holding that copy of the book "at the White House in Washington"?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

" hung out to lie".....Good line1

Posted by: rj2z J. Tewes | May 29, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Barry Hussein for Muslim President of the United States

Posted by: Ahmed | May 29, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Aren't Press Secretaries kept out-of-the-loop intentionally? So that they do not spill sensitive info inadvertently?

I think of Pierre Salinger during the Cuban Missile Crisis: he knew squat. And that was the correct way to play it.

So, that McClellan was duped, should come as no surprise.

What I am still not certain of is this: are Bush and Cheney and their gaggle of neo-cons really this stupid (and ignorant of world history and cultures) or are they extreme Machiavellians who do not care how many tens of thousands die and how much utter destruction they've done to the American Economy (and thus, our National Security)?

Which is it for Bush/Cheney: incompetence, ignorance and stupidity of an order we've not seen in American History or an abject greed blended with a bloodlust into a satanic cocktail?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | May 29, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse


Most thoughtful comment on this affair that I have read.

Anyone who thinks they can switch from campaign mode into "governing" mode easily is delusional.

Why would a "mole rat for Bush" resign about policy? He simply didn't have the time to reach sensible judgments about anything,

Those of us who saw the Iraq disaster had the time ( and skepticism ) to read the few negative press accounts and see the propaganda campaign.

It all comes down from the top. If the guy you have been working for 20 hours a day for the last several years is a self absorbed puppet, what is a mole rat to do?

Posted by: adragonperhaps | May 29, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Why do Republicans call Democrats wimps? It seems like they are showing the characteristics of such adjective. Many people who are well verse in the constitution of the U.S., even Reagan's lawyer, Mr. Fein, Nixon's legal aide, John Dean, Congressman Kucinich, and Nader, called for the impeachment of President Bush. Now that there is one of Bush confidants who is now telling the truth because his conscience could not hold any longer, what do we get from the Democrats? "Outlandish!" Is that all they can do? Just say something and do nothing? If there is a change that should be done in our government, it is not an Obama kind of change - reaching out to Republicans by praising Reagan and downgrading Bill Clinton. Change the composition of the Senate and House of Representatives by weaning both houses of the old ones who are just good on words, just like the one they anointed to be the candidate for the Democratic Party. They become scary cats even at the mention of the word, impeachment. Obama should be asked now if he is for the impeachment of Bush. But no, it looks like many of them are hiding behind the back of Obama, who said the "fairy tale" when we did not even know who he was. It is one thing to tell the truth even at theat expense of a boss but it is another if someone forsakes and degigrates a boss for some ulterior motive.

Posted by: Cabby | May 29, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps not to worry about the Clintons

learning any new bad tricks. They and their New York calque know everything
there is to know about all that is and ruinous and greedy. No dictator would be more ruinous than those two experienced power hungry crooks. Health care? Little children's needs. Oh right.

And should they ever apply their treachery to anything but money grubbing, as usual, think of the damage they could do. Would do.

Clintins in the WH would make it rot it to the floor boards.

Posted by: Hal | May 29, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"Critics will easily see this as a combination of cowardice and cashing in,"

Gee, ya think? Let's see, a mediocre former cabinet member with ties to an unpopular administration suddenly takes a position that is the exact opposite of everything that he has said or done both during and after he left office, and, guesss what, the position in question just happens to be the one that will allow him to make a killing on book sales!

" but McClellan offers an explanation that, if not fully plausible, goes some way in accounting for what he has written."

But, if he wants plausibility, why doesn't he just donate his book proceeds to charity?

Posted by: J. Brenner | May 29, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Thank God...Only about 25% of the American people seem to still be puzzled.

Posted by: willandjansdad | May 29, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I've seen a lot of people attack the messenger. The closest I've seen to a denial of the facts is Karl Roves "I don't remeber that."

That comment speaks volumes.

Posted by: willandjansdad | May 29, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Balz, the other people who should really read this book are those of you in the media who actually still think you did a good job covering this administration. It's pretty bad when even the president's mouthpiece thinks you guys dropped the ball by believing the WH propaganda and then spreading it to the public.

Posted by: pmorlan | May 29, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Bush is Evil

Posted by: Bill | May 29, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This is really a moronic article. McClellan is just another opportunistic rat leaving a sinking ship.

If Baltz really believes that McClellan has suddenly gotten religion, he is unfit to write for anything but a rag. Gee! I forgot! WaPo has become a rag over the past eight years.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

No, the EASY answer is making sure that decent people, instead of the same old slag, people the new administration. A very clean sweep.

FOR HORRID EXAMPLE: Paul Wolfowitz, who was in policy at DOS in the early '80s and hot on his agenda, (which has not changed at all), (he wrote someing into Reagan's first speech that was clearly against Reagan policy--and when questioned about it one of his aides noted the WH was too stupid to catch it.) Then he was was GWBush's foreign policy advisor in the 2000 transition, then to DOD. Pushed out, to the World Bank, pushed out...and now is at STATE, again, working on things Iran.

Same old revolving door of
neocons, go ahead name them...pushed out of one place, and put right back in some
sensitive spot by one their own.

They've finally managed the Iraq war..., which Wolfiwitz wrote for and handed to Netanyahu years was to be only the staging ground for Syria and Iran wars.

AND THEY'LL GET THEIR WAY..unless someone stops it. The censured book by Walt and Merschiemer would be a good place to start.

McCain is in particular danger, if you note his shadow and his constant calls for war.

Probably this isn't what the WaPo's Balz had in mind.

Posted by: Reality | May 29, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Where was this patriotism during his service?

Posted by: Angry Liberaltarian | May 29, 2008 4:27 PM


As I recall, Bush would compare anyone who had differnt ideas about "Patriotism" to terrorists during that time.

The Republican administration would not allow true patriots to be heard over the the Bush lies.

Thankfully the Bush era seems to be coming to a end.

Posted by: Sally | May 29, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting article. I dislike the fact that Mr. McClellan had to witness, or be a part of the famous poor events under Bush's administration. I may very well check out his book.

I must say, however, that we should have had Gore for president to begin with from the 2000 election. Although we'll never find out, I do believe Gore's administration would have done a better job. That is why, we should have been given who we picked, the winner fair and square. That was Gore. Now look at where we are. I hope the lesson has been learned.

We see how Bill Clinton's presidency was noted on the official website. It will be interesting to see how Bush Jr's is written.

Posted by: Obama2008 | May 29, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Where was this patriotism during his service? Why didn't he ask these questions publicly then, as opposed to now? Could it be the royalties and financial incentive he received by waiting? If he loves America so much, that he can call into question his friend, the President, why did he wait?

Posted by: Angry Liberaltarian | May 29, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Balz, If you manage to wade through the trolls to read this comment, I ask you to consider and write about an aspect of McClellan's book that is being mostly ignored.

He allocates part of the blame for What Happened to a compliant media that did not do its job, with few exceptions. Walter Pincus and the guys now at McClatchy come to mind. The front pages of many papers, and the airwaves, were full of propaganda about the glorious war to be launched against Iraq.

Some of us ordinary citizens thought that the doubts about aluminum tubes and other topics that were written about in the back pages should have at least delayed the rush to war. But your profession failed us. And McClellan says that clearly.

We know what George Bush is. That he is what McClellan says he is is not news. But the role of the press as seen by the Press Secretary is news. I'm sure it would be uncomfortable to write about, but you owe it to us.

Posted by: snelson648 | May 29, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

All I want is justice.

And this country back in the hands of the people - after about 60 years of rogue government.

Doubt it? Look at the mess we're in. Only an uncaring populace could have created these monsters we call our leadership.

Shame on US.

Posted by: chauncykat | May 29, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Hillary Clinton's staffers will be thrilled that Dan Balz has decided that her candidate is no longer in the running and therefore this article no longer applies to them. Less reading, and all that.

Posted by: Alan C. | May 29, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

P.S. -- you can read all about the WaPo "falling on its sword" for failing to trip up the war on terrorism:

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

If the next President is honest, has integrity and does not lie, none of the problems forecast in the article will exist.

After the seven year plague of serial catastrophes, the MSM still spends too much time treating this outlaw administration with kid gloves. The MSM is so dainty it won't call any of the main players liars.

If a Democratic president had done one percent of the bad acts and omissions that this president and his operatives did, the Republicans in congress, with the full support of the MSM, would have had that president in prison for several years by now, not going out dancing and chestbumping.

But you can only say Bush has some flaws, no big deal, get over it. Geez! Worst President and Administration Ever. Medal of Freedom for you.

Posted by: Patriot3 | May 29, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ron M.:

I'm not interested in smoking crack cocaine either ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse


Rather than buying the book, you can easily get the point / counter-point on-line for "free" ...

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me from reading these posts that McCain supporters are disturbed by this book. Just like friends of mine who support McCain they have no interest in reading it.

Bush was fanatical about loyalty and believed McClellan to be loyal over a multiyear relationship. McClellan was loyal because Bush would have been smart enough to have gotten rid of Scott sooner if he were not. McClellan re-evaluated his entire service in the WH after he found Bush personally lied to him and Scott suffered profession repercussions as a result.

While he was in the WH, he viewed life as part of the campaign Bush ran, when out of the WH he viewed it with detachment. this scenario seems plausible.

Why doesn't Dan discuss the portion of the book that deals with the failings of the MSM in the run up to the war. The issue is what can MSM do to combat the intimidation by the WH to protect itself from scrutiny.

Posted by: Ron M | May 29, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

One thing's fer sure about the Bush presidency, that should go into the history books: it was all about HIM.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | May 29, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

We have italics and bold, too?

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | May 29, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Not a word in this analysis about McClellan's stinging accusations of press complicity.
How does Mr. Balz ignore that? Oh right, if you ignore it maybe the idea will go away.

Posted by: Bill Dunn | May 29, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for a reasoned, thoughtful essay, but especially for breaking from the all too convenient "disgruntled, or disillusioned?" but generally irrelevant, frame.

Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I think you make a very good point. Although I would also recommend that most of the people who have made comments on this article read the book too. Because it was their kind of unquestioned loyalty to the Bush Administration's policies and the Republican Party and a willingness to attack anyone who veered from the Party line and talking points that has gotten us into the mess we now find ourselves in.

Posted by: Rebekah | May 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

So this is the 20th book by former administration folks who got disillusioned by the idiot(s) occupying the White House? Even Billy didn't have that many? What does it take for these Republicans to realise that they voted for a 2-faced, lying, manipulative loser? Well, there's a reason you call'em "nut-jobs". 8 years of lying and deception is more than enough. I can't believe I voted for this idiot in 2000!!!

Posted by: Chris, Atlanta, GA | May 29, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Can you guys do italics as well?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

now maybe our do nothing congress will do more than just hold "hearings" and bring some of those responsible for this terrible war to task for their actions

Posted by: lucci8 | May 29, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Condi says Scotty should have "spoken up".

The press secretary is supposed to speak up against Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitzt, David Addington, John Yoo, Scooter Libnby and Karl Rove!?!?!?!?!?!

That's YOUR JOB Condi!

These Bushco Neo-Cons always throw the little guy, and the truth-speakers to the wolves... Soldiers, voters, middle class wage earners, AND their own press secretary included!

It is HIGH TIME that CRIMINAL proceedings began against this administration.

Posted by: JBE | May 29, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The most important point McClellan makes for either of the three candidates still in the race, Clinton, Obama, and McCain, is this: there's a huge difference between campaigning and governing. All the Obamaphiles boasting that their guy should be elected president because he ran a good campaign ought to wake up and face the reality of the failed Bush administration.

Obamaphiles would also do well to remember that like Obama, Bush was unqualified to be president but got elected because of his "likeability," and his pledge to clean up Washington and save the world.

Here we go again, folks.

Posted by: ichief | May 29, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Scott McClellan has done all Americans a great service by revealing the depth of corruption and dishonesty in GWBush's administration. You can tell he is right on the mark because Bush's White House thugs are in full attack mode now. It is too bad the book wasn't published a bit sooner, but now is fine. I very much doubt anyone in McCain's headquarters, including McCain himself, will bother to read it since they intend to use the same play book GWBush and Dick Cheney have used these past 7 and 1/2 years. I would expect that Barack Obama will read it and encourage his aides to do the same. Let us also hope that Congress.. particularly you, Nancy Pelosi.... finally gets off its well upholstered duff and establishes a Special Commission to investigate the full extent of Bush administration lies and crimes, including war crimes. America cannot redeem itself and its sould from Bush's actions both at home and abroad unless this is done.

Posted by: David S. Robins | May 29, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I am more than concerned about all the Nazi references recently conjured by the Bush campaign and by Kevin Schmidt ;)'s Mein Kampf comment below. How low will they go to demonize their opposition? How low will they go to trash people who speak a truth? I'm counting down the days.

Posted by: Steve | May 29, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps if Bush hadn't been under relentless attack and subjected to demonization,outright ridicule and spurious charges of treason , drug use and desertion from Day 1 of the campaign he wouldn't have felt the need to bring the campaign mode to, and develop an insular bubble in, the WH. I mean, if everytime you venture out or open your mouth you get a s**tstorm . . . ?

Posted by: Stick | May 29, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey, how come we don't have bold text over at the Achenblog? Makes me mad that we are treated like second class readers.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Scotty is an admitted traitor and Domestic Terrorist. His book should be dumped in with Mein Kampf.

All proceeds from sales should go to Iraq.

Posted by: Kevin Schmidt | May 29, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If these guys would contribute a significant portion of the proceeds from their book to charity, they'd neutralize some of these "he's-in-it-for-the-money" attacks.

Posted by: T. Owens | May 29, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Overlooked - again - by this otherwise pretty good summary of Scott's book is Scott's observation that the Main Stream Media were intellectually lazy patsies to the administrations claims for war.

Did any news organizations send reporters into Iraq ahead of the invasion for their own look? Was any attempt made to contact the Iraqi government for their side of the story?

What about Israel? Isn't this mess in Iraq a problem for the Jewish state? That seems to get played down, too.

Oh, by the way, just for fun, check out Liz Trotta's hilarious youtube videos! She jokes about mixin' up the names "Osama" and "Obama" and then killin' 'em both. Then she says I'm sorry, y'all. Funny stuff. Also not reported by the Washington Post. They're wayyy too classy for that.

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter | May 29, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My bad. I just get so upset when they pick on my boy Barry Hussein.

Posted by: curious | May 29, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

When will people wake up to the fact that Barry Hussein Obama is all style and no substance.

Posted by: Nadeem Zakaria | May 29, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

The quality of your boards has gone significantly downhill and is compromising the image of the Washington Post. I recommend a more thorough monitoring system and perhaps having "editor picks" for these postings. There are at least ten comments here that are off topic, and several comments that are both off topic and bigoted. There is a lot of space in the world wide web for this crap; The Washington Post should not be one of those spaces.

Posted by: curious | May 29, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Rahiq Syed:

I am right here.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Did Michelle Obama baptise Barry Hussein?

Posted by: Sandy | May 29, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Trolls for McCain:

From what I've seen so far, it doesn't seem so.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

This was Scotts equivalent to the blind groin kick - just when you are not expecting it. Not that expecting it makes it any less painful, just teh blind one has a slight bit more eye ball turning oooomph to it.

You know the kind, where if someone sees it, they bend and turn the other direction like they felt it too. Oh, thats gotta feel GREAT

Posted by: Really | May 29, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Does Barry Hussein still smoke? I hear they released the results of his physical today. He's "adequately" fit to hold office.

Posted by: Sandy | May 29, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I cannot vote for barry Hussein because he has renounced his muslim religion. How can you trust anyone who has no core belief system.

Posted by: Rahiq Syed | May 29, 2008 2:48 PM

Mr Obama was baptised a Christian.

Around here -- Christianity is considered a core belief system.

Deal with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Does Barry Hussein still smoke? I hear they released the results of his physical today. He's "adequately" fit to hold office.

Posted by: Sandy | May 29, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how one's morality and judgement become clear once they are out of the spotlight.

Posted by: JT | May 29, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Where is that hottie, JakeD? He sounds like the cream for my coffee...

Posted by: Rahiq Syed | May 29, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

McClellan knew full well that his book was going to unleash a brutal wave of attacks from the WH and the media.

He knew he was going to be a prominent Republican target for writing the book.

He knew he was going to be called to testify under oath to a variety of Congressional committees.

I can't imagine doing that jsut for the $$.

Posted by: Wake Up | May 29, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I cannot vote for barry Hussein because he has renounced his muslim religion. How can you trust anyone who has no core belief system.

Posted by: Rahiq Syed | May 29, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse


As I said, I don't have to smoke crack cocaine to know it's bad for me either. Again, I hope, for the country's sake, that Barack HUSSEIN Obama has at least grown up since high school.

Posted by: JakeD
Apparently more than somebody currently sitting in white house who stopped partying at 40 because his family was fed up with it, JakeDUMB...

Posted by: Trollls for McCain | May 29, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

white folks better wake up cause african american are taking what is theres in november. just like the inventor of the peanut said, george washington carver, black people can't be free until they occupy the white house.

Posted by: Lakisha | May 29, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse


Please be sure to tell us what specific NEW evidence he had about the decision to go into Iraq when he was only Deputy Press Secretary for DOMESTIC matters ...

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse


As I said, I don't have to smoke crack cocaine to know it's bad for me either. Again, I hope, for the country's sake, that Barack HUSSEIN Obama has at least grown up since high school.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

You are NOT suggesting political cover-ups as ACCEPTABLE, are you?

As for me, of course, there is NO doubt in my mind Scott is telling the truth.

While I don't know about any of you commenting on this site or reading from home or work, I can tell you that I CANNOT WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON THAT BOOK to find out "what happened" to the idealist George Bush I voted for in 2000 (notice there is NO mention of 2004).

Posted by: KYJurisDoctor | May 29, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Scott McClelland renounces Good Busheism and reveals the truths we've known for a long, long time.

George W. Bush and his cronies have lost all credibility in the eyes of the world and that, for the so called leader of the free world, is sad and pathetic.

Posted by: Amazed | May 29, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Look, if Dan Balz is saying how everyone should buy the book -- especially anyone directly connected to the campaigns -- I think it's relevant to the thread topic to at least point out the major allegations, lack of specific evidence backing those allegations, and point-by-point rebuttals are available for FREE and EASIER than buying the book and reading it yourself. Nothing personal against Scott, really.

As always, YMMV : )

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:06 PM


Until you walk in their shoes,don't speculate about someone. Maybe he got tired of being called traitor,and probably worse,while out in public. These criminals are going to have to live in a gated(heavily)community due to the public outrage. To some,Scott is now on the right track to true patriotism,not hiding behind a flag while secretly burning it. It's funny how no one denies what's in the book,they just try to discredit the writer. When Obama becomes President,maybe he should make Scott his press secretary. He won't have him telling lie after lie to the public that's for sure.

Better late than never!

Posted by: jime | May 29, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, I was wondering who bought that book.

Posted by: Matt Cvetic | May 29, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Fake JakeD:

I don't have to smoke crack cocaine to know it's bad for me either. I hope, for the country's sake, that Barack HUSSEIN Obama has at least grown up since high school.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

And the results from this poll say everything. You won't believe these results!

Posted by: Huck | May 29, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

A well written and thoughtful analysis, Dan!

Posted by: DesertLeap | May 29, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Bush supporters, say it after me: "Ewwww, the truth is so icky - yucky!!"

Posted by: JakeD will not be buying the book - the nation is on high BFD alert! | May 29, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Before he wrote his own memoir, White House press secretary Scott McClellan was rather critical of those who did the same.

In fact, some of the same language now being used to trash McClellan he himself used to trash previous administration authors.

On the book critical of the Bush White House written in cooperation with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," McClellan said on January 12, 2004:

McCLELLAN: "It appears to be more about trying to justify personal views and opinions than it does about looking at the results that we are achieving on behalf of the American people."

McClellan also took issue with the book by former Bush White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," on March 22, 2004:

McCLELLAN: 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. Certainly let's look at the politics of it. His best buddy is Rand Beers, who is the principal foreign policy advisor to Senator Kerry's campaign. The Kerry campaign went out and immediately put these comments up on their website that Mr. Clarke made. ...

Q: Scott, the whole point of his book is he says that he did raise these concerns and he was not listened to by his superiors.

McCLELLAN: Yes, and that's just flat-out wrong. ...When someone uses such charged rhetoric that is just not matched by the facts, it's important that we set the record straight. And that's what we're doing. If you look back at his past comments and his past actions, they contradict his current rhetoric. I talked to you all a little bit about that earlier today. Go back and look at exactly what he has said in the past and compare that with what he is saying today."

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the Hillary campaign will study it to learn more dirty tricks from.

Posted by: Dave | May 29, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to shell out $27.95 just to read another "tell-all" 400-page book (the kind Scott denounced once upon a time). I am curious why the publication date was pushed back from April 21st though.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yuck that---Bob Barr 2008!!

Posted by: hater too | May 29, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul '08!

Posted by: rajjj hater | May 29, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

A pox on both political party's houses. This is not some high school football game where you blindly cheer for your side even if their record is questionable. As for Scottie and anyone else, their loyalty is to the country, not just the president, or a particular party.

Posted by: hater too | May 29, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Something you don't want to know, JakeD?

Posted by: rajjj hater | May 29, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Benedict Arnold was a "supposedly loyal adviser" to General Washington, once upon a time too.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I bought the book by Ari Fliescher (sp?) last year, but I won't buy Scott's book.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

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