Friday, June 6, 2008


Newsweek has published a piece by Evan Thomas about Scott McClellan. It is subtitled How Team Bush could have avoided a damaging tell-all. Basically Mr. Thomas thinks that Mr. McClellan was out of the loop and didn’t know what was going on. He was lied to just like all the rest of us. Bull!!!

From Preventing Another McClellan by Evan Thomas:

Long before McClellan was hired, it was clear that the Bush administration's press strategy was to keep its own press secretary in the dark, at least when some lies were being told or there was a felt need to stonewall. Ari Fleischer, Bush's first press secretary, was not told everything either. The idea (I guess) was that the press secretary should not be placed in an awkward position, knowingly lying to the press, or being tempted to leak. The Bush crew has always prized discipline and shown a certain disdain for the media. In McClellan's case that meant sending him out day after day to spin, rosily and emptily, while being jeered at by an increasingly disbelieving and derisive press corps. It must have been humiliating, especially when he later discovered that he had been fed some outright lies, like the assertion that White House political adviser Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, had never spoken to reporters about Valerie Plame.

The most successful press secretaries are the ones who actually know what's going on—like Jody Powell under Jimmy Carter, Marlin Fitzwater under Bush 41, and Mike McCurry under Bill Clinton. They won the respect of reporters because they were respected by their own bosses.
Evan Thomas is doing the same thing McClelann used to do. Lying and distorting the truth. My memory told me I had read a lot about McClellan and his lies. My memory seems to be pretty good. All you need to do is google “talking points memo Scott McClellan” and take a look at some of the hits. You will find things like this (all written by Josh Marshall):

From 10-26-04:
First of all, remember how yesterday Scott McClellan said that,"the Pentagon, upon learning of [the disappearance of the explosives], directed the multinational forces and the Iraqi Survey Group to look into this matter, and that's what they are currently doing."

CBS talked to the Chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charlie Duelfer, in Baghdad and he says he hasn't gotten any order like that.
More from 10-26-04:
If you look at the multiple contradictions in the different stories administration officials told reporters over the course of Monday, it's hard not to get the sense that they're caught without a good explanation and they're just making this stuff up as they go along.

The folks who really understand this stuff don't seem to put much stock in what guys like Di Rita and Scott McClellan are saying. The LA Times piece notes that one of them is former chief weapons inspector David Kay, that notorious bush-basher and left-winger. Kay thinks the stuff was carted off after the old regime was history. Kay told the Times he visited the site in May 2003 "and it was heavily looted at that time. Sometime between April and May, most of the stuff was carried off. The site was in total disarray, just like a lot of the Iraqi sites."
From 10-25-04:
The problem is that the White House has spent the entire day claiming that they knew nothing about this until ten days ago, October 15th. Scott McClellan said this repeatedly during his gaggle with reporters this morning. Indeed, he went on to say the following: "Now [i.e., after the notification on October 15th], the Pentagon, upon learning of this, directed the multinational forces and the Iraqi survey group to look into this matter, and that's what they are currently doing."

So McClellan says that the Pentagon only just learned about this. And that's why they only now assigned the Iraq Survey Group to examine what happened at al Qa Qaa.

But Di Rita says that the US government has known about it for 18 months.

So which is it?

They've known about it since just after the war and kept it a secret? Or they just found out about it ten days ago and now they're on the case?
Also from 10-25-04:
Definitely take a moment to skim over Scott McClellan's remarks today in the press gaggle about the al Qa Qaa debacle. It's a brazen effort.

McClellan's key point is that the US knew nothing about any of this until October 15th, ten days ago.

That contradicts what the Times says, which is that Iraqis claim they told Jerry Bremer about this last May. It contradicts what the Iraqis have told the IAEA, which is that the US pressured them not to report the disappearance to the IAEA.

It also stands in what I guess you'd have to call simple defiance of the fact that the US had formal charge of these facilities for more than a year ending in late June of this year.

To say that we knew nothing about the theft of these materials during that entire time is simply not credible. And if it's really true, it's considerably worse than if it's a lie.
From 04-20-04:
Let's do a moment of follow-up about the president's reaction to the August 6th, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief.

'How did the president react?' and 'What did he do?' have been the chief reactions swirling around this story. So let's look back at the AP story from the day in question.

According to the story, the president went out for the morning 4 mile run before 8 AM. He came back, washed up, and went to meet aides for a foreign policy briefing.

"With sunlight pouring in through a floor-to-ceiling living room window," said the Associated Press, "Bush met with deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, national security aide Steve Biegun and spokesman Scott McClellan for about 45 minutes. They took a call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, discussing peace efforts in Macedonia."
But look who was also there: Scott McClellan, the president's current press secretary. The press gets a crack at him every day. Sure, he probably won't answer on principle. But he's one of only four people there that day. He was there. Why not ask him?
It seems to me that Evan Thomas cannot blame McClellan for not knowing what was going on. It seems to me that McClellan was one of the few Americans who DID know what was going on and was complicit in it all.

And even if McClellan was out the loop he should have been able to figure out that Bush was lying and breaking laws and acting immorally. If I could figure that out, McClellan should have been able to.

America would be better off if more people read Josh Marshall and less people read Evan Thomas.

One more thing. Team Bush could have prevented a damaging tell-all by not having anything to tell. If Bush had acted within the law and not lied, what the hell would Scott McClellan have to tell?

0 comments - Post a comment :

Post a Comment