I really hope there’s a special level of hell reserved for weasels like Scott McClellan.
McClellan, as you may or may not know, is the former press secretary of President Bush who has written a scathing tell-all book that pushes all the right MoveOn.org buttons. You know the drill – Bush lied, kids died. They’ve been chanting this mantra for over half a decade now, so it was only a matter of time before one of George’s own guys started saying it. As the historical consensus hardens around the proposition that Bush is a failure, McClellan the Rat jumps off a sinking ship and on to the one that he thinks is going to get him feted by the press, the intelligentsia, and the public at large.
But he’s not going to get what he wants. Sure, he’ll get plenty of attention. But he’s lost just about everyone’s respect. What, he thinks the Lefties will give him kudos for turning on Bush when there’s no political downside to it? Does he think anyone on the Right will ever speak to him again? What an idiot. The Left may welcome the ammunition, but even they can smell rank opportunism and disloyalty.
Yet like McClellan and the majority of Americans, I, too, am disgusted with President Bush. But my reasons differ wildly from the conventional wisdom. I’m disgusted because he’s given up, because he’s thrown his defenders and his own party to the wolves. McClellan can spout the opposition party line and all Bush can do at this point is wring his hands. No one is telling the truth about Iraq – that it was the right thing to do, that it’s saved thousands, if not millions of lives of people who would otherwise end up in Saddam’s mass graves, that everyone in the world believed he had WMDs and the intent to use them, which is why he bluffed up until the end, because he doubted the will of America.
Well, Bush stood up to him. And if Iraq is allowed to stabilize before Obama yanks the troops out of there, “Bush’s war” will ultimately be seen as the pivot point that transformed the Middle East into a place hospitable to Western democracy. That probably won’t happen, though, as too many people have a vested interest in dismantling Bush’s legacy.
And Bush – tired, muddled, flummoxed, and confused – is all too willing to let them do it.
He’s let his political enemies define his presidency all down the line since Hurricane Katrina, when FEMA arrived faster than it ever had in previous disasters but took the brunt of criticism for the rank incompetence of state and local officials. And what did Bush do? He piled on FEMA and gave Mayor Nagin and Co. a pass, thereby solidifying the narrative that Katrina was his biggest non-Iraq blunder.
When his Attorney General fired eight US Attorneys – which was well within his rights to do – Bush tried to defend him while he threw him under the bus. Gonzales was a good guy, the prez said, but you’re right, critics, this was a bad, mean, awful thing he did.
Bush should have stepped up, said “Yeah, I fired them. Why? Because I felt like it. Same reason Clinton fired all of them. They serve at the pleasure of the president , and I wasn’t pleased. You got a problem with that?” Instead, he tried to make nice and bought into the critic’s argument that there was something untoward about the whole thing, and he damaged himself even further.
McClellan’s book plays directly to all the biases and misconceptions that Bush critics cultivate, even resurrecting silliness about the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame, who was exposed by Clinton holdover and Iraq War opponent Richard Armitage. The damning facts about Plame and Wilson – she was not covert, he was not sent to Niger by Cheney, and Libby and Rove were not the one who revealed her identity – have been verifiably exposed time and again, yet Bush’s inability to articulate a coherent defense has allowed a blatant falsehood to become “truth,” a “truth” which McClellan has no problem cashing in on.
It’s nauseating, And it’s made worse by the fact that Bush is either too scared or too stupid to change the record.
And all the while, Bush has sold the Republican Party down the river on every other issue that matters. Federal spending and bloated government subsidies have gone through the roof. The Federal Government, via No Child Left Behind, has metastasized itself into every aspect of education. Bush is even giving crappy global warming speeches that will no doubt be cited by whoever gets elected next when they bankrupt the country with an asinine cap and trade bill. “Even the hated ex-President Bush recognizes the need for this,” Obama/Clinton/McCain will say.
And to Bush’s everlasting shame, they’ll be right. But that doesn’t mean Scott McClellan isn’t a weasel.