There is no news in his book, hardly the first to charge that the White House used propaganda to sell its war and that the so-called liberal media were “complicit enablers” of the con job. The blowback by the last Bush defenders is also déjà vu. The claims that Mr. McClellan was “disgruntled,” “out of the loop,” two-faced, and a “sad” head case are identical to those leveled by Bush operatives (including Mr. McClellan) at past administration deserters like Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, John DiIulio and Matthew Dowd.
So why the fuss? Mr. McClellan isn’t a sizzling TV personality, or, before now, a household name beyond the Beltway. His book secured no major prepublication media send-off on “60 Minutes” or a newsmagazine cover. But if the tale of how the White House ginned up the war is an old story, the big new news is how ferocious a hold this familiar tale still exerts on the public all these years later. We have not moved on.
Americans don’t like being lied to by their leaders, especially if there are casualties involved and especially if there’s no accountability. We view it as a crime story, and we won’t be satisfied until there’s a resolution.
That’s why the original sin of the war’s conception remains a political flash point, however much we tune out Iraq as it grinds on today. Even a figure as puny as Mr. McClellan can ignite it. The Democrats portray Mr. McCain as offering a third Bush term, but it’s a third term of the war that’s his bigger problem. Even if he locks the president away in a private home, the war will keep seeping under the door, like the blood in “Sweeney Todd.”
Monday, June 02, 2008
McCain’s McClellan Nightmare
In the Times, Frank Rich explains how Scott McClellan's new book and media tour may be upsetting loyal Bushies, but it's likely causing even bigger headaches for Team McCain. An excerpt: