May 2008

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McClellan's Scathing Tell-All

By Justin Gardner

After the administration threw Scott McClellan under the bus in the Plame affair, you knew this had to be coming. But most revealing is his inside info about the Iraq war.

Politico details some of his assertions:

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.

• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• Steve Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, said about the erroneous assertion about Saddam Hussein seeking uranium, included in the State of the Union address of 2003: "Signing off on these facts is my responsibility. ... And in this case, I blew it. I think the only solution is for me to resign." The offer "was rejected almost out of hand by others present," McClellan writes.

• Bush was "clearly irritated, ... steamed," when McClellan informed him that chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey had told The Wall Street Journal that a possible war in Iraq could cost from $100 billion to $200 billion: "'It's unacceptable,' Bush continued, his voice rising. 'He shouldn't be talking about that.'"

• "History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."

McClellan also offers a cautionary tale about the Bush administration's legendary take-no-prisoners partisanship...

Decrying the Bush administration's "excessive embrace of the permanent campaign approach to governance," McClellan recommends that future presidents appoint a "deputy chief of staff for governing" who "would be responsible for making sure the president is continually and consistently committed to a high level of openness and forthrightness and transcending partisanship to achieve unity.

Some will call McClellan a traitor. Others will praise him as a patriot. But as is the case with so many ex-White House insiders, the answer is much more complicated. See, I think a lot of people believed in Bush, but his stubborn partisanship and blind resolve failed them all miserably. That's why we're seeing exposés like this...because Bush is a woefully flawed leader.

And in this case, at least, history isn't waiting to be unkind.

Justin blogs at