McCLellan's Memoir - More Than Beach Reading

Washington Matters

McCLellan's Memoir - More Than Beach Reading

It won't hit the bookstores until next week, but the early leaks from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's memoir taking the chiefs of the Bush administration to task looks like the hottest political read of the summer. Memo to McCain: It may even have a ripple effect in the fall presidential election. ...

Some of the juiciest and jaw-dropping excerpts of the book, titled "What Happened", according to an advance review by Politico, are McClellan's charge that President Bush "veered terribly off course" in his presidency, "conducted a permanent campaign" to build a legacy and relied on "propaganda" to sell the war in absence of solid intelligence. Another is that Bush senior advisor Karl Rove "at best misled" McClellan on his and VP Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby's involvement in the revelation of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Sponsored Content

He also says some of his own statements at press briefings were "badly misguided" and says the White House press corps could have done much better work in taking the White House to task in the run-up to the war. Makes you wonder if he wanted to resign a lot earlier. Then again, much of the nation, including Congress, was itching for some sort of military show of force somewhere after 9/11 if the evidence was to be trusted.

At any rate, I credit McClellan for what appears to be an honest effort at a meaningful memoir largely about Bush and Iraq. It's certainly more compelling than other recent memoirs, such as the one by former CIA director George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, in which he spreads blame for intelligence flaws liberally except on himself, or with the recent and widely criticized memoir by Former Asst. Defense Sec. Douglas Feith, who essentially says he was surrounded by idiots who didn't understand how to manage the plan right.


McClellan's book looks like it will have a longer shelf life than other more self-serving tomes. Its scathing assertions, in fact, will keep the story of the badly handled war and occupation fresh and alive in the fall campaign. 

By then, the one who will have to answer for the war policy will be GOP nominee John McCain, the man who hopes to inherit the war from Bush and has supported much of Bush's Iraq policy from the start. In McClellan's book, Barack Obama, who advocates a withdrawal of troops to start early next year, may have found more than some useful talking points. It might be on the top of his debate preparation file.