In defense of Scott McClellan

[Kathy G.]

With the publication of his bombshell book, Scott McClellan is getting it pretty hard from both sides. Predictably, many on the right are outraged at his alleged perfidy -- at Pandagon, Pam Spaulding does one of her periodic, always entertaining forays into the demented parallel universe that is Freeperville, and comes up with some beauts. The Freepers throw every name in the book at poor Scottie, calling him a "lowlife," "a backstabbing bum, and "a little worm;" he's also unfavorably compared to "a turd on a stick," and that's just for starters. They also offer such awesome political advice as "I wish W had chosen Ann Coulter to be his press secretary," and my personal fave, "One reason W is in trouble and legacy is in jeapordy IS the fact that he DID NOT SELL HIS VIEWS ENOUGH."  (Triple bonus points to the latter for the all caps and the spelling!).

With a few exceptions, the response on the left has not been a whole lot warmer. Ezra Klein refers to the book as

the tinny bleatings of a man who abetted a lying, disastrous presidency
because it seemed like a good gig, but doesn't want his name maligned
by the historians. . . This doesn't come close to clearing his name.

dnA at Too Sense is also having none of it:

McClellan has every reason to lie or twist events: making himself a
sympathetic character helps him sell books and he wants to minimize the
role he played in one of the most flagrant violations of the public
trust by the office of the President in history.

At Daily Kos, Bill of Portland Maine had this to say:

If there was any justice in the world, Scott McClellan would have to
travel to the home of every family member who lost a loved one in Iraq,
get down on his knees, and beg forgiveness. But he won't. Instead, we
get 341 pages of, Hey, I was just following orders.

The only thing that Scott McClellan should collect from his book is dust.

But unlike most liberal journalists and bloggers, I think McClellan deserves quite a bit of
credit for going public with this, even at this late date. Writing this kind of book could not have been easy for him. He has undoubtedly lost friends. Many of his former colleagues will never speak to him again. If he'd written the kind of anodyne snoozer that Ari Fleischer did, then surely he'd be set for life on the wingnut welfare circuit. But now? Well, let's just say he'll never eat lunch in that town again. And it's not like the liberals are eager to embrace him with open arms, either.

But in coming clean, the man has performed a public service. Unlike
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of those freaks, McClellan,
for all his deep moral deficiencies, is not a sociopath. And yeah, that's defining deviancy down, for sure. But at least it's something. McClellan seems to feel genuine regret at what he did, and that's more than I
thought we'd ever get out of any of the Bushies.

I think his book is valuable for two reasons. One is its potentially considerable merits as history. Future historians looking back at this administration are going to have a very frustrating time of it. The one thing the Republicans learned from Watergate is that it's essential to perfect the art of the cover-up, and surely the Bushies have that covered. Of course there will be no White House tapes, but it goes way beyond that. The Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to restrict public access to presidential records.

And it's not likely that we'll learn much from other ex-Bush officials. I always said that one
problem with this administration is that it will not produce any John
Deans -- that the rot among the conservatives and the Republican party
is now so total, profound, and all-encompassing that's there little likelihood that anyone will ever
tell even a shred of the truth of what went on. But with McClellan coming forward, we'll at least get a bit more of the real story than we would have otherwise.

The other reason this book is a public service is not only what is being said, but who the person is saying it. That Bush's own former spokesman is spilling the beans does, I think, have great power to get through to some people who otherwise would still be substantially in denial about what this
administration has done, and is continuing to do.

Among other things, I think his book will do serious damage to the myth of the liberal media. When we lefties talk about
the so-called liberal media, those not of our tribe tend to yawn. But
when McClellan exposes it for the Big Lie that it is? Well, that will
get people's attention, bigtime. It won't put a stake through the heart of that pernicious myth, but it has to potential to open some people's eyes which would otherwise have remained firmly shut.

In short, I think McClellan's book is a very big deal.  His coming forward now does nothing to excuse his past misdeeds, but it should be applauded. And hopefully, his example will encourage others to do the same.