Former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan is taking a lot of flak over assertions he makes in his newly released book, What Happened. There have been cries of surprise and dismay that he could be so critical of the administration he worked for.
Ari Fleischer, McClellan’s predecessor and former boss, said in an interview today on MSNBC that he was astonished — McClellan, a friend, had never told him he was concerned … McClellan had never raised objections to what was going on … this book doesn’t even sound like McClellan … and on and on. Does he mean he thinks someone else actually wrote the book? Quite possible. It’s common for ghost writers to pen books for people wanting to capitalize on their names. Not a crime. Was the book released now to help ensure a Democratic victory in November. Maybe. Also not a crime.
Reality check, please. When you want to keep your job, you don’t go around telling people you think your employers are propagandists and liars. You don’t dispute decisions your bosses are making. McClellan’s job was to speak for the administration and defend its actions and decisions, using whatever spin, whatever words the White House specified. It was not his job to stand at the podium during press conferences and tell reporters the president was using “propaganda” to justify going into Iraq. He’d have been fired immediately.
Frankly, McClellan never appeared comfortable as press secretary and often gave the impression of an earnest young man who’d gotten in over his head. He was never as deft and smooth as Fleischer in answering some questions while sidestepping others. He was clearly miserable trying to sell the White House line about the Cheney shooting accident.
Apparently, as press secretary, McClellan never indicated to anyone that he had concerns about the George Bush way of doing things. And that’s as it should be. Absolute loyalty to the boss, no matter what his private misgivings might have been. If he now publishes a book critical of the administration, that’s his prerogative. Unless he signed some sort of nondisclosure agreement when he took the White House post, he owes George Bush and his minions neither loyalty nor silence.
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