Monday, June 2, 2008

In Summary

McClellan is a flawed vessel for any serious communication. From behind the podium, he made a mockery of the press and the public's right to know, most notably by repeating non-responsive and sometimes ludicrous talking points. He has yet to persuasively explain his change of heart. And his insistence that self-deception rather than a conscious disregard for the truth was behind what he now describes as the White House's consistent lack of candor is spectacularly self-serving.

But the significance of McClellan's book is that his detailed recounting of what he saw from the inside vindicates pretty much all the central pillars of the Bush critique that have been chronicled here and elsewhere for many years now. Among them:

* That Bush and his top aides manipulated the country into embarking upon an unnecessary war on false pretenses;
Click here!

* That Bush is an incurious man, happily protected from dissenting views inside the White House's bubble of self-delusion;

* That Karl Rove's huge influence on the Bush White House erased any distinction between policy and politics, so governing became about achieving partisan goals, not the common good;

* That Vice President Cheney manipulates the levers of power;

* That all those people who denied White House involvement in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity were either lying or had been lied to;

* That the mainstream media were complicit enablers of the Bush White House and that its members didn't understand how badly they were being played.
And here's another great McClellan quote:
"Cheney had greater power and influence than any other vice president in history, and no one really knew how extensively he wielded it. Being shut out from his thinking and from the ways he advised the president left a large black hole in my understanding of what was really going on inside the administration...

"[L]urking behind it all remained the magic man, Vice President Cheney. No one knew better how to orchestrate what was happening from behind the curtain while the grand production was playing out on stage. Quietly slipping in and out of internal deliberations, his influence and wand waving barely discernible to the outside world, Cheney rarely showed all his cards and never disclosed how he made things happen. Yet somehow, in every policy area he cared about, from the invasion of Iraq to expansion of presidential power to the treatment of detainees and the use of surveillance against terror suspects, Cheney always seemed to get his way."
Like Atrios says today, the big question about the Bush administration is whether they are fools or liars - either way, they should be held accountable. McClellan was always a good liar, but it looks like he was a fool as well. Same goes for Bush. But Cheney is clearly no fool.