Scott McClellan’s new bombshell book, What Happened has brought forth a full court push-back from the White House, but whats more interesting is his depiction of the role of the national press corps in the lead up to the war.

“[T]he national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq,” he writes.

McClellan also writes that “the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

This is a surprise?

The other rather shocking little tidbit relates to Bush’s cocaine use allegations during the 2000 campaign,

when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.

The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite “somewhere in the Midwest.” Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.

“‘The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,’ I heard Bush say. ‘You know, the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don’t remember.'”

“I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?” McClellan wrote. “How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn’t make a lot of sense.”

Bush, according to McClellan, “isn’t the kind of person to flat-out lie.”

“So I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It’s the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true,” McClellan wrote. “And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious – political convenience.”

In the years that followed, McClellan “would come to believe that sometimes he convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment.” McClellan likened it to a witness who resorts to “I do not recall.”

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0 Responses to Shocked!

  1. Dan says:

    McClellan has said that he has to answer to a higher loyalty: the truth.

    Or else, possibly, the sinecures he was offered after leaving the White House weren’t up to snuff, and so the book deal looked more profitable.

    I don’t place more than a mustard seed’s worth of trust in any press secretary for any administration. They’re sock puppets. Their whole purpose is to state the party line and then try to knock down or shrug off pestering questions. For this one in particular to say, “You could have knocked me over with a feather! It turns out they LIED to me!” is mildly amusing, but there are a couple million other books I’d rather read first.

  2. Zhirem says:

    McClellan was complicit. He was complicit by the very definition of his job.

    But above that, he was insultingly transparent. Is the American public to believe that one so easily misled should be the mouthpiece of an administration?

    McC had a brain. He had ears and eyes. He had a sorely underdeveloped conscience, but most importantly he lacked the backbone and intestinal fortitude to stand up for what was right.

    He deserves no quarter and should be shown none.

    – Zhirem

  3. Oh, he was complicit, all right. But I will give him this: He’s openly stating, in front of tens of millions of eyeballs, what we all know is true and what the press corps is at pains to pretend is false –

    That the press have been ‘complicit enablers’ (his term) for Bush every frickin’ step of the way.

    The only way he could improve on this would be to note that:

    1) the press has been complicitly enabling every Republican president since Nixon, and the GOP in general, as it gets more corporate, and:

    2) this is because the corporate media barons are by and large in the tank for the GOP. Rupert Murdoch isn’t the only, or even the first, right-wing ideologue to exercise iron control over a network. Murdoch’s news director, Roger Ailes, worked for GE/NBC’s Jack Welch well before he worked for Rupert, designing NBC’s news division to be just what the archconservative Welch wanted it to be.

    Just as Scott McClellan liked the paychecks he got for spinning Bush/GOP atrocities, Tim Russert and Richard Cohen and Katie Couric and pretty much any other other prominent newsie not named “Lara Logan” or “Keith Olbermann” is complicit because they liked and still like the even bigger paychecks than McClellan’s that they get for spinning for the GOP.

    To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it’s difficult to people to understand something when their salaries depend on their not understanding it.

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  5. STS says:

    McClellan is exactly the kind of witness needed to remove the veneer of deniability that helps the true believers hang in there. Not exactly a saintly achievement, but courageous in much the way an ex-mafia capo who speaks out is courageous.

    George W. Bush’s greatest accomplishment in life was to quit drinking. His Presidency has only confirmed that high point. McClellan was a full-blooded member of the liars club that is the Bush inner-circle. I’m glad he has opened the door for others to make their public confessions and start establishing the historical record on these criminals.

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Rove’s perp-walk.

  6. nearlynormalized says:

    So what happend to our honorable nation? I see the downside of honor and the upside to poverty…Poor people don’t do suicide…

  7. Hugo says:

    This fool, McClellan, why give him time? His yet-unreleased book is by his, and his publisher’s, account a vindication of the Bush policy in Iraq, but who really cares about any of it? The fact is that Scott McClellan was a third-string spokesperson on domestic, not foreign, affairs. So, give it up. This is silly.

  8. Hugo says:

    I realize that it doesn’t serve the “Bush Lied, People Died” schtick, but what about the Czech President Vaclav Klaus’s remarks before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning? He’s just a mite more important that Scott McClellan ever has been or ever will be…

  9. Jon Taplin says:

    Hugo-I’m more interested in the Press complicity angle. The manufactured consent.

  10. pinstripebindi says:

    I kind of feel the same way: Who is still shocked by these things? But I guess it’s still a nasty jolt when someone who was in the know confirms what you suspected, that the media was manipulated and the public lied to to sell a war.

    I agree with people who say McClellan is a coward for not coming forward when it would have really counted, and that at least some of his motivation behind the book is $$$. However, none of this means he isn’t telling the truth, and conservatives who bring up either of those points are just propping up strawmen.

  11. Hugo says:

    And you’re right, of course, Jon, about the larger point (corruption of the erstwhile Press).

    One could pound this pissant, McClellan, all day long for selling his name to the “fuhstest with the muhstest” publisher, but what’s the point? You’re right: the issue is the corruption of the Press.

    I think it was so easily corrupted, five and six years ago, because it already was in the last stages of morbidity. And I really must insist that the Press no longer exists in America today, May 29, 2008.

    No melodrama; just the truth.

  12. STS says:


    What about Jon Stewart, or Colbert? Or Josh Marshall? Or even Jon Taplin? The Press is dead, long live bottom-up media!

  13. Hugo says:

    STS, I’ll leave the question of Jon to—oh gosh, let’s say, Jon. But as for your suggestion that financial gambits such as the news parodies of Stewart and Colbert are revivals of what once was the Press—well, please.

    More seriously, yes, I do think that if the Press is ever again to exist in America such that it can serve the purposes anticipated by the Framers, then it will have to spring from the “People’s Journalism” of the Internet. But I’m stocked-up and provisioned for a long wait.

  14. Ken Ballweg says:


    How were Klaus’ remarks important? He is a Free Market Friedmanesque economic ideologue of the types loved by Thatcher and Reagan to justify their versions of the running of the bulls.

    I fail to see how his opinion on climate change, (that it is a shrill trojan horse that will give left wing socialist the foot in the door that will be the death of us all) will have any significant impact on the debate. Or did I miss something?

  15. Hugo says:

    Ken! Sift & Winnow, man, Sluice & Classify!

    OK. I think that President Klaus may be a hardcore tocsin, one we’ll look back upon, retrospectively, with regret and remorse.

    He does NOT dispute climate change, nor even our charge to redouble our vigilance in that regard. Rather, he goes out of his way to BRACKET THAT issue so as to address another threat, totalitarianism. (No less.)

    From the excerpts I’ve viewed and read so far, I’d say that he was not disputing climate change and our subsequent charge to redoubled stewardship, but rather was saying that the claims of ecological disaster have saved European Greenism from its marginalization and have emboldened totalitarian elitists with a fresh pretext for controlling not so much climate, as every department of our lives; so, a new rationale for social control by dint of the central planning of elites—all of it justified, as in 1917 and 1933, by speculative science.

    The AGW alarmists may be right, but whether they’re right or wrong the fact is that they identify mankind as the threat. President Klaus said—has been saying—that mankind is indeed the threat, but not so much a threat to the atmosphere as a threat to the erstwhile sanctity of every individual, even in her very most private life.

  16. Morgan Warstler says:


    It goes to “motive.”

    Look, let me say this again – we’re very close to $MAX… that means there is very little we can take from the private sector in the name of the public good.

    So the true way to judge a liberals “motive” – the way you can judge how serious they are about whatever the focus of their alarm-ism is DIRECTLY proportional what other liberal program they are prepared to kill off to achieve their ends.

    Liberals now to prove their bonafides – have to NECESSARILY scuttle one of their programs to pay for their own cause – all I ever ask is – which one?

  17. Hugo says:

    Morgan I really thought you’d back me up on the Stewardship as Efficiency-plus-Effectiveness string under Jon’s “Way Forward”. Here, and there, you and I are saying the same thing. (Again.)

  18. Ken Ballweg says:

    Where do you get this $MAX concept from? I can’t find it at the library or online. That makes me wonder what obscure source you have for it or whether you might just be pulling it out of your butt.

    I gather from your occasional remarks in what you think it means, (that you can only collect so much in taxes before the returns start to drop) but what conservative think tank did you lift $MAX from? Whose idea is it anyway? What evidence do you have that it exists besides the usual evidence that you provide of saying it over and over in all caps. It’s just like listening to some crackpot rant about the need to go back to the gold standard.

    As a nation we have borrowed to the point where there isn’t much left to go around, because it’s all tied up either with servicing the debt or with the rich who are only concerned with getting richer and could give a fig about what happens to the world in the long run. Conservatives seem to have no problem with running up a considerable military debt with no concern for how much it will bugger the economy, or how it will get paid for what’s with the double standard? Conservatives have always been willing to kill off Liberal programs to pay for their profligacy, so in that spirit, I say we will pay for these god awful liberal programs with less prisons, less military, and less no bid contracts to corrupt contractors.

    Hugo, are you serious? You believe that the far left environmental activists are a wedge to full blown totalitarian socialism? That’s a lot like saying the Panthers were the most dangerous political movement ever spawned in America. It doesn’t scale well held up against reality. Get a grip man.

  19. Dan says:

    Hugo I always enjoy reading your comments. But:

    “all of it justified, as in 1917 and 1933, by speculative science”

    is nonsense. Are you seriously coparing the Nazis in Weimar Germany to proponents for action to address global warming?

    Are you saying that the scientific research behind global warming is no more valid than the “science” that said that Jews and Gypsies were vermin?

    The pseudo-science of phrenology was conducted by quacks who were sponsored by bigots (back when bigotry was still fashionable), in Germany, in America, in England, and elsewhere. These quacks did the following:

    1) They measured skulls and faces.

    There. That’s it. That’s what they did. From this, they concluded that “beady eyes” or sloping foreheads were proof positive of genetic inferiority.

    Disagree with or doubt the findings of the enormous body of scientific work of global warming. I have no problem with that.

    Comparing it to the silly pseudo-science that Hitler used to justify his hatred of Jews is rubbish.

  20. Hugo says:


    I’ll get a grip if you’ll get a…a…trip? Slip? Blip, or something.

    Yeah, I am serious in distinguishing environmental science and environmental protection from environmental-ism, which has become in Europe, and is becoming in the U.S., a new civil religion, with myth-sustaining rituals, ablutions & oblations (not to mention glacial ablation), aromatic incense, etc. It’s a path to total social control, roughly of the sort exercised by the Church in the 14th Century, or by Mao during e.g. the Cultural Revolution. While I shop for hemp jeans and await the promised eco-friendly Crocs, meanwhile the power maniacs are seizing upon our planetary devotions as a path to perfect power.

    President Klaus likens this phenomenon to the Soviet boot beneath which he was pinned for most of his life. And the parallels are, to me, striking. (Note especially the over-reliance upon and misuse of speculative science to enforce a global vision.)

    Many years ago I happened to ask Arnie Eisen, then-Chair of Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies, why none of the scholars at his university had examined contemporary environmentalism as a textbook civil religion via neo-Paganism. His reply: “Too obvious.”

  21. Dan says:

    “It’s a path to total social control, roughly of the sort exercised by the Church in the 14th Century, or by Mao during e.g. the Cultural Revolution.”

    OK never mind…no further discussion necessary.

  22. Hugo says:

    Ken, whatsay I read Klaus’s book and get back to you with a thumbnail review?

  23. Ken Ballweg says:

    I don’t disagree on the cult qualities of the extreme greenies, I just can’t see anything in the movement that gives them that the power or cohesion you are fearful of them getting. We’ve always had extreme ends of the political bell curve, but it’s rare for one to be able to take over to the extent of your projections, unless they can build an army.

    Part of the new prominence of the greens is the long period of denial and repression of science by the neo-cons who didn’t want to spend money on any level of regulation to serve the commons. Less profits that way. But now the manipulations of Chaney/Rove/Bush tends to elicit distrust, if not outright disbelief by the public. It’s giving the greens their moment in the spotlight; viz, “We told you he was lying.” It’s their moment in the spin cycle. Couple that with a repulsion for all things neo-con and the reaction (at least in the states) is a surge of the repressed that will settle down when reality intrudes.

    However, it doesn’t matter if the ice caps are melting due to human pollution, or natural solar cycles: they’re melting. We need to do something dramatic about our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, regardless of the debate of whether it is causing global warming. Klaus appears to me to be pulling out the specter of communism/totalitarian socialism less because its a significant danger, but more because it gets in the way of his version of free markets, and his revulsion for all things Old Soviet. Linking these is as suspect as the folks who grandly announce that the green house effect is/isn’t (pick your side) responsible for the melting of the polar caps.

    Regardless of cause, they are melting, and there are sufficient costs to infrastructure and health to make cleaning up emissions a priority, and not bother with the is/isn’t debate. And if those steps happen to slow down the build up of the green house effect, fine. But no one is going to reverse what’s happening so the “why is this happening” debate is a little moot.

    The risk of a Klaus is that he will give fuel to the stupid, stupid, stupid people who put their faith in an unfettered free market (Klaus’ real religion) to do what needs to be done because not to trust the unregulated robber barons is a commie type plot.

    That’s the stretch for me.

  24. Hugo says:

    Dan, please, I’m trying to drive a sharp distinction between environmental science (of which I’m an avid consumer) and its abusers. Both the Bolshevik regime and the Thousand Year Reich were founded in the name of science—of coopted and corrupted science. (In Germany phrenology was the least of it.) Indeed science was the state religion of the Soviet. On Tuesday Klaus called for the protection of science from this sort of corrupting exploitation by powermongers.

    The subject here is not science per se; rather, the subject is an all-too-familiar sociopolitical phenomenon, and one with destructive potential even more profound than that of our gaseous irresponsibility. I see Klaus’s initiative as a call for the protection of scientific integrity and for the democratization of science policy.

  25. Hugo says:

    You’re right, Ken: this isn’t about the pot farmers of Ferndale or the monkey-wrenchers of Portland. President Klaus has his eye on the potentates in e.g. Geneva, Paris, Stockholm. In Europe he is well known as an arch-foe of Kyoto, which he considers tantamount to a new Internationale.

    Look, I’m just saying that his is a compelling argument worth a double-take. Maybe the guy’s just swing Pinko elephants; I don’t yet know. But I’m predisposed to listen to the Czechs. They’re wise old birds.

  26. John Hurt says:

    “Too obvious.” That was an interesting answer.

  27. John Hurt says:

    Don’t we oppose all secular / civil type religions, such as environmentalism and free marketism?

    Don’t we oppose extremes of faith on all sides?

    “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” Andre Gide

  28. John Hurt says:

    Back to the issue. The issue is the corruption of the press. And the federal government.

  29. Jon Taplin says:

    As John Hurt says we got off the topic of press corruption, but perhaps I can suggest a way to tie the later comments in this string (which are quite wonderful) back to the subject at hand. The only reason Exxon poured so much money into the “climate change denial industry” was so that the press could always cite some scientist in the classic “on the other hand” paragraph in the middle of any article on the scientific consensus that man was changing the environment. In the same way that all the networks hired former generals to spout the administration line,
    the “objective press” feels a need to always tell both sides of the climate change story, even if 99% of the scientists are on one side of the debate.

    Ken’s observation that Morgan has come up with the $MAX mantra from some crackpot economist is correct. Except the crackpot is not even an economist, his name is Grover Norquist,, one of the slimiest policy/lobbyists in the neo-con universe. Even right wing blowhard Tucker Carlson called him “mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep … the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home.”

    Norquist believed that by cutting taxes and raising military spending he could shrink the Federal Government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

    Personally, I have decided to stop responding to Morgan’s incessant spouting about $MAX. It’s a one note song and not a very good one either. Unless he begins helping us think constructively about how to cut our dependance on fossil fuels, not by coercive mandates, but by smart tax policies that help pay for the externalized costs of pollution and send correct price signals so consumers buy cars that get 50 MPG–he is just the annoying uncle at the Thanksgiving table.

  30. Morgan Warstler says:


    As I’ve said here many times before – I call it $MAX. It is my own description. It a tautological definition. It is found by taking from the populace, the largest possible tax rate that is takeable before tax receipts start to go down.

    It fiats away concern for whether we should/ought actually take $MAX or spend $MAX – and focuses simply on reflection on the realities of our current GNP/GDP vs. tax rates.

    The number is about 40% of income in upper brackets, whether you call those brackets $200K or $100K.

    The point is of course to pee some reality into your Cheerios. If you cut prisons and military (assuming either new president will), and take the little bit left in $MAX, there’s still no damn way you get to do new social programs without killing other social programs. Thus, Bill Clinton killed welfare.

    Real systemic change is about doing more with less. That’s why real discussion, not pie-in-the-sky blather, is mostly about hard choices, finding new efficiencies, and ultimately politics has to be about how to achieve these things.

    Don’t you get tired just asserting there are things we shouldn’t be doing, and then pretending to yourself not doing those things will allow you to do the other things you want?

    The actual real “dollars spent” costs of Iraq is $10B a month. This isn’t military funding, this is Iraq. That’s how much we’d save if somehow we just “turn off” the war.

    That amount immediately goes to paying down the deficit, not to a new program. The military needs to be rebuilt and re-organized for this new counter-insurgency future. Thats costs too. And I desperately hope we are going to close some prisons, end the war on drugs and prostitution – but those savings don’t mean much – now we gotta get out our red pencil on social security and medicare/medicaid, if we want to do anything new.

    So, Ken, I’m asking you get serious – why dick around bitching about small stuff, leading means hard choices – what are we going to cut? Prove you are serious.

  31. Morgan Warstler says:

    Jon, just make 40+MPG cars sales tax free.

    Answer solved.

    Now then, what are we going to CUT? Stop being the opposition and explain how you are going to lead.

  32. Morgan Warstler says:

    And having met Norquist and you, I bet you’d like him. He’s funny.

    Though he is against $MAX – I’m not. I’m comfy with $MAX, becuase I have given up arguing about smallish tax cuts, other governments are forcing reality on us.

  33. John Hurt says:

    Mono mania.

  34. Hugo says:

    I apologize for pulling the train off the track.

    The hideous manipulation of the decomposing Press is an unspeakably perverse form of necrophilia. The White House staff ought to be ashamed of their having molested a corpse for their own gratification. Disgraceful.

    There’s quite a lot of this kind of perversity breaking out in this campaign season. CNN and Newsweek positively flaunt their necrophilia, and of course the necrophilia of Michael Bloomberg and of Camp Clinton is fiendishly orgiastic. It’s the talk of all Paris.

    P.S. Morgan I see by your latest Safeway Rewards data that you remain selfishly addicted to bottled water. Don’t you love our Planet, Morgan? Do you know what it takes to manufacture a single, litre bottle! The carbon fuels! The greenhouse gases. When will it end, Morgan?

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