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Re: The Hackiest Hack of All

I heartily concur with Daniel: McClellan was probably the worst White House press secretary in recent memory. His infamous deer-in-the-headlights look, an inability to engage or respond effectively to the White House press corps, and a generally inept demeanor were the subject of much ridicule at the time–mainly by the press itself. To write of the Bush administration that “they were all evil” or “they all lied” smacks of excuse-mongering. The height of this is when he declares that the press was too “deferential.” When–while they were pummeling him on national TV? Why didn’t he quit if all his colleagues were liars and fools? He didn’t voice any reservations at the time, while cashing his paycheck and defending the President to the media pack everyday. Was he lying then? Or is this some kind of recovered memory?

Then there is his accusation based on no factual evidence that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were obstructing justice during the Valerie Plume investigation:

“I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. … I don’t know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic? Like the whole truth of people’s involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.”

One wonders how an unsubstantiated rumor like that gets through the editing process or whether it is indicative of the rest of the “evidence” used in this catty tell-all.

Finally, McClellan seems appalled that there was a “propaganda” effort to sell the war. I assume that he is not a total naif and that he did not spend his entire adult career in press relations only now to learn that selling,–i.e., encouraging the public to support your position–is the central facet of his job. If he didn’t get the facts or the facts were wrong or unkown people, from unknowable meetings, lied that is another matter. But throwing around the word “propaganda” is the type of thing people do to sell books and get splashy coverage from the media. (That would be the same media that vilified him for incompetence.) There’s plenty of insightful criticism of the Iraq war’s mismanagement and plenty to learn. It won’t, however, come from this shabby effort.


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