McClellan's Book Club
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, set the tone with his first words:
"Welcome, everyone, to the Judiciary Committee's first Book of the Month Club meeting," he declared. "Today, it's Scott McClellan's 'What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception.' I propose that next time we consider Ann Coulter's book, 'How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).'"
Throughout the hearing, Republicans worked feverishly to discredit the former White House press secretary who had turned against his patron and former boss, President Bush. Liberal Democrats tried to use him as a pawn in their bid to impeach Bush. Thus did the hearing serve to prove the very point McClellan makes in his book.
"The larger message of my book is bigger than any person or party," McClellan said in his opening statement. "It is about restoring civility and bipartisanship and candor to our national political discourse. It is about putting our nation's interest above partisan goals."
But rising above party was anathema to the lawmakers on the panel. Putting the nation's interest above partisan goals? Yeah, right.
"Do you recall if you've ever used illegal drugs?" inquired Ric Keller (R-Fla.).
"Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver," lectured Smith.
Among Smith's many complaints: that one of McClellan's editors "has written venomous statements about the president, for example, calling him a, quote, 'clearly horrible person.'"
Turns out it was the editor's daughter who wrote that.
"A political book launched in a most political time!" thundered Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
"Couldn't you have taken this to the grave with you and done this country a favor?" complained Steve King (R-Iowa).
"Can you give me a rough estimate of the number of TV shows that you appeared on?" demanded Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.). "Did this particular publisher offer you the most money?"
The attacks on McClellan were conspicuously short on substance. And the lawmakers proved no match for the former press secretary, who had handled worse than this in his years behind the lectern in the White House briefing room.
When Goodlatte charged that McClellan's allegations were "hyped to sell this book," McClellan's reply was calm.
"Which specific allegations?" he inquired.
Goodlatte was stumped. "Well, there are many allegations," was his weak reply.
McClellan simply smiled.
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