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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

The Loyal McClellan

Those Bushites are sure big on loyalty, aren’t they? Scott McClellan, President Bush’s second press secretary, has written a scathing book about his White House years. While stunned folks still working for the president call McClellan disgruntled, the former designated liar says the book is a way for him to learn from his mistakes, be true to his Christian faith and become a better person.

Scott, you forgot something: it’s also a way for you to make some dough! That’s what is really going on here and I just wish these turncoats would be honest.

I know I should be happy about the book. Like many others, I’m disgusted by the handling of the Iraq war and I’m glad that McClellan confirms my suspicions that President Bush relied on an aggressive “political propaganda campaign” instead of the truth to sell the war. But we really don’t need Scott McClellan to confirm that for us at this late date and had he really wanted to do something meaningful, he would have spoken up while it was happening.

What really rankles, though, is the recent trend whereby former staffers trash their old bosses. It’s always cast in some redeeming light: McClellan wants to be a better person; Douglas Feith, the war architect turned master finger pointer, wants everyone to know just who was responsible for all the bad decisions in Iraq (certainly not him) – so on and so forth.

Usually, the real reason for the publication is far less noble. It’s either to settle a score or to make some money. In the case of McClellan, had he chosen to write a book about how great George Bush is, it would have sold maybe ten copies. Since it would have been fiction, it might not have even sold that many. So the publisher makes it clear that if he’ll dump on his old boss, that will be controversial, make some news and produce some sales. Since the author gets an advance plus a tidy percentage of every book sold, it’s in his best financial interest to follow the publisher’s advice.

This is certainly not new. Former presidential staffers have been cashing in with bombshells for a long time. Donald Regan disliked Nancy Reagan so he disclosed her fondness for astrology. George Stephanopoulos felt betrayed by Bill Clinton so he offered a rather critical inside look.

So why does McClellan’s act of disloyalty seem to rise to a new level? Perhaps because he would have been absolutely nothing without George Bush. Over a decade, he went with him from the Governor’s office to the White House and became press secretary even though he obviously wasn’t terribly well qualified for the job. Does none of that count for anything and can no politician feel safe in this day and age?

Almost everyone at the higher levels of government relies heavily on the loyalty and discretion of staff. Because of the nature of the work, some staff members become like extensions of the family and naturally see and hear things that would be best left within the family. Truly loyal staffers don’t break that bond even after they’re long gone from the office.

Then there are the Scott McClellans of the world and they shouldn’t be rewarded. Don’t buy the book.

(Re-printed by permission, originally published by Faith In Texas)

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