Former Bush aide makes media waves: Snitch or whistleblower?

May 31st, 2008 - 11:13 am ICT by admin  

By Andy Goldberg
San Francisco, May 31 (DPA) Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan made headlines of his own as the US media zoomed in on his sensational tell-all memoir in which he accuses President George Bush of tricking the country into war. He also charged that the swaggering US leader lacked intellectual curiosity and had committed the arch-sin of any politician: Bush believed his own spin.

The furore helped propel the book “What Happened” to the top of the bestseller list, even though it doesn’t officially go on sale until Sunday.

Matt Drudge, the hugely influential right-wing blogger and compiler of the Drudge Report, summed up the view of his side succinctly: “Scott The Snitch” read the headline on his widely read web page.

But though the revelations proved highly embarrassing to the Republican White House, proving what many political opponents had charged for years, there were many on the left wing who condemned McClellan just as strongly.

Their gripe: that the White House insider had remained silent as he saw his boss trample on political tradition and lead the country into a disastrous war.

“Interesting stuff, Scott. But about five years too late,” sniped Arianna Huffington, the leftwing blog queen.

“How many times are we going to have a key Bush administration official try to wash the blood off his hands - and add a chunk of change to his bank account - by writing a come-clean book years after the fact, instead of when it actually could have made a difference?”

The editorial board of the New York Times Thursday was equally unimpressed, placing the book into a tedious sub-genre of Washington memoirs: “I Knew It Was a Terrible Mistake, but I Didn’t Mention It Until I Got a Book Contract.”

“This is the same Scott McClellan who … joined in the ‘culture of deception’ with such zeal that we lost count of the times he ridiculed critics of the war and questioned their patriotism,” noted the paper.

Bush allies tried to use two lines of defence against the allegations: hinting that McLellan had somehow lost his marbles, and that he was making up the allegations to sell his book.

“(The president) is puzzled, and he doesn’t recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years,” said current White House press secretary Dana Perino.

Added former White House communications advisor Dan Bartlett: “It’s almost like we’re witnessing an out-of-body experience. We’re hearing from a completely different person we didn’t have any insight into.”

Karl Rove, the top Bush aide who was attacked in the book as transforming the act of government into a permanent political campaign, also zinged his former ally.

“If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them,” Rove said. “And, frankly, I don’t remember him speaking up about these things. I don’t remember a single word.”

But McClellan insisted he would not be silenced. In his first interview since the contents of his book were revealed, he was unapologetic Thursday in an interview on NBC.

“The White House would prefer I not speak out openly and honestly about my experiences, but I believe there is a larger purpose,” he said. “I gave them the benefit of the doubt just like a lot of Americans. Looking back and reflecting on it now, I don’t think I should have.”

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