Any look behind
George Bush�s Iron Curtain is a good look. So, Scott McClellan�s new memoir, What
Happened, comes as a breath of fresh air from the house of silence, where, as
McClellan tells us that full �campaign mode� press on the public (and press)
was always on. And that a �political propaganda campaign� was always running
like an old mimeograph machine, most notably to �manipulate sources of public
opinion� and �downplaying the major reason for going to war,� which, as I see
it, was all about oil and control of the Middle East.
That a Bush press
secretary should admit this is news, especially for all those folks who still
believe there really were weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was about to
use momentarily to bring us that mushroom cloud over the American horizon. Karl
Rove and Condi Rice be damned, the book�s very subtitle gives you a clue to the
real deal: Inside the Bush White House and Washington�s Culture of Deception. For that is what it is, was, and
continues to be, even with a whistleblower from within.
McClellan, a formerly
zip-lipped defender of administration staff and policy, sounds off at Karl Rove
misleading him about his role in the CIA case (read Valerie Plame�s outing). He
nails Condi as fending off blame, and calls Cheney �the Magic Man� who pulled
the strings from behind the scenes like the Wizard of Oz, and left no
In a chapter called Selling
the War, McClellan reiterates
from the horse�s mouth what we already knew and felt: that the truth was
manipulated repeatedly and Bush �managed the crisis in a way that almost
guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.� It
obviously wasn�t. He follows with �What I do know is that war should only be
waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.� Amen.
McClellan adds, �Over
that summer of 2002, top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully
orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war . . . In the
permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion
to the president�s advantage.� It has been recently noted that Bush and his
Boyz (Powell, Rice, Cheney, Libby, et al) repeated the war phrases (weapons of
mass destruction, imminent use, et al), nearly 1,000 times in the run-up to
war. So now �the plan� is officially documented.
McClellan was once right up there with the rest of the gang pitching the war
from the podium. So hindsight, as valuable as it is, never quite matches
foresight, and begs the question, �What took you so long, Scott?� Pragmatically
speaking, better late than never, though I personally could not for the world
justify that war to any parent of one of the 4,000 lost American solders,
especially knowing that set-up. And one wonders how much real immunity from the
carnage this buys McClellan.
The real question is
what does this mean really to the world�s most artful dodger and liar, George W
Bush. McClellan tells us Bush demonstrated a persistent �lack of
inquisitiveness.� That lack, many might interpret as a lack of compassion,
decency, and respect for law. After all, a million Iraqis have been blown away,
as well, so far. And Bush still has his feet deeply planted on their graves.
What does it take budge him? Impeachment, arrest, a people�s takeover of the
government? A trial at The Hague?
After all, this is
one book by one man. And Americans are notorious non-readers, willing to settle
for the pabulum of Fox News and other major TV news venues and their sound bite
non-realities. The dead remain dead. Who will resurrect them? The war
continues. More fall.
originally wrote in an email, �Like many Americans, I am concerned about the poisonous
atmosphere in Washington. I wanted to take readers inside the White House and
provide them an open and honest look at how things went off course and what can
be learned from it. Hopefully in some small way it will contribute to changing
Washington for the better and move us beyond the hyper-partisan environment
that has permeated Washington over the past 15 years.�
This would seem to
include the Clinton years, and is not elaborated on as to why. I suppose one
could fill in the blanks, but hard facts would be better, especially from a man
who followed Bush from Texas to Washington, and early on saw him as
�out-of-touch, in a political bubble,� one who doggedly refused to admit a
mistake. Yet McClellan still claims, �Bush is plenty smart enough to be
president� -- just not too reflective about his job, is that all it is?
But Bush�s job
concerns the well-being of not just the United States but the whole world as
its superpower. McClellan says, �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.�
Well, this would
include more than a canny political intelligence, but some heart, mind and soul
for humanity, which, thanks to Bush�s thickness, could go up in smoke too
easily, especially with the administration�s penchant for considering nuclear
options, as in depleted uranium, mini-nukes, and even the big ones.
Witness the endless
saber-rattling and defamation of Iran, while patting Israel on the yarmulke for
its 200 nuclear warheads, ready, willing and able to destroy the Middle East
and probably the United States if it had to. How thick, how unconfident, how
callous does a president have to be until the Congress, the people, the cronies
turn and throw a net over him?
If, as McClellan
says, Bush is able to convince himself of his own spin, McClellan also
remembers overhearing Bush, in a phone call, say he couldn�t remember whether
he�d used cocaine. McClellan thought to himself at the time, �How can that be?�
Indeed, how can the nightmare of this two-term psychopathic president have
continued without spinning lies from day to day, all day, and calling anyone
who disagreed unpatriotic, qualifying for the unconstitutional abuse of the
USAPATRIOT Act and/or search, seizure and disappearance under various Bush
And, with a gangster
like Karl Rove at his side, what could stop George W. Bush from topping Poppy
Bush by attaining a second term? Certainly, not the hacking of voting machines,
particularly Diebold's along and with Sequoia's and others'. McClellan adds
that topping Poppy also meant never explaining, never apologizing, never
retreating. So, Bush�s adolescent post-oedipal issues were dictating the
ongoing stonewall idiocy called domestic and foreign policy.
somehow is able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and call Bush �a man of personal
charm, wit and enormous political skill.� And states that Bush �did not
consciously set out to engage in these destructive practices. But like others
before him, he chose to play the Washington game the way he found it, rather
than changing the culture as he vowed to do at the outset of his campaign for
presidency.� In other words, he lied as others had done, over and over again,
to his constituency, to his party, to the people of America.
As to Bush�s
heartless flyover of New Orleans, post-Katrina, on Air Force One, McClellan
lays it on Rove�s cloudy �thinking about the political perceptions,� whatever
those might be that ended up, justifiably, making Bush look �out of touch,� and
I might add, �out of his mind,� viewing a national disaster almost on a par
with 9/11 from a great height and through a glass of diet Pepsi darkly.
McClellan tries to pull it out of the fire with �it was a costly blunder.� It
was more like a mutely muttered �f�k you� to all, especially after the time it
took for Bush even to visit and look.
Regarding the CIA
operative Valerie Plame�s treasonous outing, McClellan honestly admits to
letting himself be deceived, which he half paid for with a full pounding from
the White House press corps over Rove, Cheney and his chief of staff Scooter
Libby�s outrageous actions. However, at least McClellan is man enough, human
enough to admit it. And to consider �Change can be helpful, and this is a good
time and good position to help bring about change. I am ready to move on.�
last statement sounds too much like Judge Hellerstein�s advice to the 9/11
victims� families. It also calls to mind the absence of any McClellan comments
on Bush�s behavior on 9/11, nor did he address the ever-widening accusations of
a false-flag operation and homemade inciting incident that led Bush and his
gang to perpetrate the �War on Terror,� the equivalent of a silent coup d�etat.
leaves us with his statement on the South Lawn to Bush, after his resignation,
�I have given it my all, sir, and I have given you my all.� As noble as that
sounds, perhaps �all� was not enough, and something more is needed to be heard
from McClellan, something about 9/11, and what really happened that was not
indicated in What Happened nor has been heard since.
The thing is, after
all is said and done, George W. Bush is still on the loose; a threat not just
to himself, but to the safety of the US and the world. Kudos for McClellan for
speaking up and scratching the surface, but others, who know more, have to
speak up and take a strong stand, now, to bring this avowedly unshakable
character to justice.
Bush is still an open
book and writing his own chapters, as he goes, on torture, NSA spying, more war
money, the looting of the treasury by the oil and defense lobbies, and the
attempt to put a stake through the heart of Social Security and concomitant
human services. When do we say �enough is enough?� I hope soon, before it�s too
late even to say it.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York.
Reach him at email@example.com.