Criticisms leveled in former White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s new memoir are sure to get a lot of attention over the next few days.
What separates McClellan’s account from other tell-all books from former Bush Administration officials is the personal tone. McClellan followed Bush from Texas and left the White House on good terms. But he’s obviously not pleased with some decisions that were made — and the way he was treated at times.
To some degree, McClellan’s book tells us a lot of things we already know.
From today’s Washington Post:
Bush is depicted as an out-of-touch leader, operating in a political bubble, who has stubbornly refused to admit mistakes.
But he also takes a swipe at the Bush public persona that exudes confidence.
“A more self-confident executive would be willing to acknowledge failure, to trust people’s ability to forgive those who seek redemption for mistakes and show a readiness to change,” he writes.
Among the most interesting stories McClellan recounts is his role in the CIA leak investigation that led to Scotter Libby’s conviction for obstruction of justice last year. Here is where McClellan seems to get personal.
“I could feel something fall out of me into the abyss as each reporter took a turn whacking me,” he writes of the withering criticism he received as the story played out. “It was my reputation crumbling away, bit by bit.”
Intriguingly, he recounts his suspicions about a previously undisclosed West Wing meeting between Rove and Libby:
“There is only one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss,” he writes. “It was in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, and it sticks vividly in my mind. … Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], … Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?’ Karl asked. ‘Yeah,’ replied Libby.
“I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. … At least one of them, Rove, it was publicly known at the time, had at best misled me by not sharing relevant information, and credible rumors were spreading that the other, Libby, had done at least as much. …
“The confidential meeting also occurred at a moment when I was being battered by the press for publicly vouching for the two by claiming they were not involved in leaking Plame’s identity, when recently revealed information was now indicating otherwise. … I don’t know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic? Like the whole truth of people’s involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.”
McClellan writes in a way suggesting he really didn’t see this at the time. Really?