- the White House was in a "permanent campaign" mode in which the electoral calendar was the preeminent factor in the most minute decisions;
- the Iraq war is "not necessary" and was sold to the public by means of a "political propaganda campaign;"
- a disaster-numbed White House botched the response to Hurricane Katrina, in part by hoping that it wouldn't be that bad;
- Karl Rove and Scooter Libby may well have met align their testimony in the Valerie Plame trial;
- as press secretary, McClellan often made statements that he later discovered were (gasp!) misleading.
Since none of the above was previously unknown by virtually any sentient adult American, much of the interest in the book revolves around McClellan's motives. The Republican rapid response seems to have adopted the theory the McClellan of some sort of demonic possession by unconscionable liberals: "This is not the Scott we knew," current press secretary Dana Perrino mourns. Commentator Tucker Carlson wonders "who his ghostwriter is." Karl Rove's suspicions are darkest of all: "This doesn't sound like Scott...It sounds like a left-wing blogger." (Note: You'll have to scroll through the links to find these quotes, but they're there.)
Personally, I suspect that the book will prove to be a tempest in a teapot. He's hardly the first insider to turn coat. I didn't like it when George Stephanopolous published his tell-all book while Bill Clinton was still president, so I can't blame Republicans who cry foul over this. (I can, however, enjoy the spectacle.) Heck, McClellan isn't even the first in his family to jump ship. His mother, Carol Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn, the former Austin mayor who tried to turn the city over to an unfettered horde of slavering developers, switched parties in the early Nineties more readily than she switched husbands when it suited her ambitions.
The interesting questions to me are "why?" and "why now?" The robotic McClellan surely has not deceived himself into thinking that his habitual deer-in-headlights expression destines him for a big fat network spot like Stephanopoulos has. Perhaps all that Kool-Aid he drank finally wore off, allowing him to see that the emperor wore no clothes. Although continues to profess admiration and respect for Bush, perhaps he grew to hate the likes of Rove over daily slights and humiliations. Probably, it's some of both. As for the time, though, you can bet that has to with book sales and the heightened interest in politics brought on by the upcoming presidential election. Once you're in permanent campaign mode, it's hard to get out...
Heard on Boston subway:
- "Does your life really suck that much?"
- "I may or may not have said he was cute."
Citizen K. Read: In A Strange City and Another Thing To Fall, both by Laura Lippman.