Nobody likes a turncoat
By Carol Devine-Molin
Who would have thought that former White House spokesman Scott McClennan would have morphed into a world class stab-in-the-back? This really is a personal tragedy for McClennan who now espouses only the flimsiest pretense of loyalty toward President George W. Bush. Mind you, it was President Bush who provided McClennan with friendship and a high profile, prestigious job, which could have been parlayed into a successful and honorable career in the public or private sector. But instead, McClennan chose to make a quick buck by casting aspersions upon his former boss and White House colleagues. That said, it was thoroughly apropos for former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to dub McClennan both a "miserable creature" and a "total ingrate". And that's coming from a really nice guy such as Bob Dole.
McClennan is now out-and-about the airwaves trying to sell his scathing exposé on the "Bush inner sanctum". Foremost, it would behoove Scott to remember that nobody likes a turncoat. But the really scary thing is that McClennan seems to have readily succumbed to the lies and the twisted psyche of the political Left. After having fought off the liberal mainstream media for years, McClennan, in the end, folded like a cheap suit. Usually, there's something to be said for the notion of psychological inoculation – one would have thought that McClennan garnered the capacity to think rationally and scoff at Leftist twaddle, given his years of wrangling with the media elites. Unless, of course, McClennan has always been a closet liberal, which is now shaping up to be a distinct possibility. He keeps calling himself a "centrist" on the media circuit, which is generally a code word for Left-leaning. What am I missing here?
Moreover, this is a guy who didn't possess the character or maturity to be associated with any presidential administration, particularly one as hard-pressed such as the Bush administration that had to make a lot of tough calls in a pressure cooker. The backlash from the Left-leaning crowd obviously took its toll on McClennan, a spineless wonder that subsequently collapsed into a gelatinous pile of goo. Besides, McClennan was an ideological mismatch for the Bush administration, which has been largely Right-leaning in nature. President Bush may not be a consistent conservative, but he's certainly a seventy percent conservative.
I've always enjoyed Fox television host Bill O'Reilly, but I have newfound respect for him after watching him tackle Scott McClennan and his new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception. O'Reilly conducted an impassioned interview, holding McClennan's feet to the fire, and refusing to let him skate with liberal talking points and sweeping generalizations. Regarding McClennan's attempts to brand the Bush administration as "deceitful" for ostensibly propagandizing the Iraq War with false claims of WMD, O'Reilly retorted, "But you're coming to this conclusion, all right, seven years after the fact. I mean, look, if the president, two presidents of the United States sitting, the former CIA guy who works with both presidents, Tony Blair, and The New York Times all tell me and you, he (Saddam) got them, we can't say no, he doesn't."
War is very unpalatable and every war must be "sold" – There's nothing wrong with "selling" a war, in other words offering up valid reasons for supporting a war and engaging in the ensuing debate. In fact, in a democracy, it's a necessity. Let's look back into antiquity for some reflections on warfare: Even King Leonidas of Sparta – land of the consummate warriors – had difficulty selling war to his fellow Spartans who were too busy reveling in their religious festivals to take up quick arms against the invading Persians. From time immemorial, it's always been a challenge to mobilize people against a looming threat.
Let's be clear: Bush told the truth – The CIA Director, George Tenet, believed Saddam Hussein's regime had WMD, and so did every major intelligence agency in the world. Essentially, war always involves galvanizing the masses, and nations routinely utilize intelligence in their possession. OK, so Saddam was savvy enough to avoid mixing chemicals into WMD. However, without digressing too much, let me remind that there was compelling evidence that Saddam was still girding for war, and, over an extensive period of time, he was refusing to abide by post-Gulf War weapons inspections and agreements. Confrontation, at some point, with Saddam and his two psychopathic sons, was inevitable.
Regarding McClennan's claim that the Bush administration was in "permanent campaign" mode, well that's a bunch of malarkey. I only wish it were true. What Bush needed was a "Republican War Room", a rapid fire response team to confront the Leftist lies of the intelligentsia on all salient issues, including the strategic battle for Iraq. However, that never came about, and the Bush administration lost the ability to communicate effectively with the American people. Worse yet, the entire Republican Party has suffered as a consequence.
As to McClennan's continued efforts to perpetrate character assassination upon Karl Rove, frankly, I'm astonished that McClennan has so little grasp of the facts on the Valerie Plame – Joe Wilson controversy. Everyone now knows that Richard Armitage was the leaker, and that Joe Wilson was manipulating a mile a minute. Perhaps McClennan should read the Washington Post editorial, "End of an Affair" dated 9/1/2006, for further clarification: "Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously."
Moreover, on Fox's O'Reilly Factor, Karl Rove's responded to McClennan's attempts to smear him. Rove stated: "Well, as we now know, the identity of Valerie Plame was leaked to Robert Novak by Richard Armitage. What I told Scott was I didn't know her name, didn't reveal her name, didn't reveal — didn't know what she did at the CIA, and that I wasn't the source for the leak. And we now know Richard Armitage was the source." I would also note that Mr. Rove was intensely investigated by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and brought before a grand jury several times. If Mr. Rove had been guilty of anything, he would have been charged and convicted.
Sadly, Scott McClellan has degenerated into a mouthpiece for the political Left, spouting the same old misrepresentations and fabrications that have been floating about for some time. I'm guessing that McClellan wants a job with the liberal mainstream media, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to prove that he's thoroughly in sync with it.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!