Former Bush Propagandist Scott McClellan's Book Uses Term "Propaganda," "Sounds Like A Left-Wing Blogger"

Illustration for article titled Former Bush Propagandist Scott McClellans Book Uses Term Propaganda, Sounds Like A Left-Wing Blogger

If there was a Bush administration official who was as painful to listen to as Bush himself — and that is probably scientifically impossible but humor us for a second — it was Scott McClellan. Dana Perino is dumb but so prettily, unabashedly so, Victoria Clarke always had those insane purple suits, Rumsfeld made his ruthless philosophies on statecraft into a hypnotic C-Span smugfest, Tony Snow even had a sense of humor. But when McClellan got the job, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz described him as "soft-spoken, self-deprecating and so cautious that he [made] Ari Fleischer sound like a gangsta rapper." And now he's out with a tell-all (called, appealingly, What Happened?) (my punctuation) that apparently sounds like the ravings of "a left-wing blogger!" Hey Scott, welcome to the crew! Drinks on us at the next EschaCon! Anyway, after the jump, Megan and I parse the posts of some blogposters who parsed the book, plus, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Facebook page, that Burma underwear project and Barack Obama's poker prowess.

MOE: Did you know Obama was a skilled card player? Surprise of the day! Anything else you can think to talk about? Anything at all? I was going to try and get us to read up on whether oil prices are a bubble. I think sorta! Unrelated: has Maureen Dowd gotten even more insane?

MEGAN: Let me read Maureen and make that determination while you read about how a certain lapdog mauled its owner when he found out he was being fed Facon instead of Bacon.

MEGAN: Completely insane. That's, like, practically insulting to everyone involved. Also, who'd'a thunk that she could try so little and still piss off an entire region of the country by making fun of their accents? She's right about Bill Clinton being ruddy. That's about the only thing.

MOE: Hahaha imagery! And who is the so-called "liberal media" in McClellan's case? Like when people tell their dogs to attack swarthy complected strangers who approached the house? But the people are about to set a 9 alarm fire to the house for insurance so the strangers are actually their friends? Anyway I have to say, I'd hate Bush if I were Scott McClellan too but I'm surprised by the intensity/sincerity?


MEGAN: Yeah, I mean, I guess he just got sick of looking stupid and incompetent or something? For my part, what I'm reading it's like a missive from an ex who still loves you but recognizes and even excuses some of your flaws (I know when you stood me up that time it was all your best friend's fault!) but in the end just wants you to know that s/he's just so tired of feeling stupid for loving you. I'm apparently all about metaphors today.

MOE: You know what I like? How Karl Rove comes off with all the evil and none of the genius. McClellan was obviously so far outside the loop he wasn't even in the same time zone as these crooks. And back to your stupid argument:

"There is only one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss," he writes. "It was in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, and it sticks vividly in my mind. … Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card's office], … Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?' Karl asked. ‘Yeah,' replied Libby. "I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. …

MOE: At least one of them, Rove, it was publicly known at the time, had at best misled me by not sharing relevant information, and credible rumors were spreading that the other, Libby, had done at least as much. …

McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush's liberal critics and even charges: "If anything, the 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. "The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

MEGAN: They were too nice to him! Awww. It's like, why didn't you make me seeeeee how bad he was for me??

MOE: Do we have the next David Brock on our hand?

MOE: s

MOE: okay making coffee brb

MEGAN: Well, we will once the Administration rips off his neck and shits down his throat, in 5...4...3...

MEGAN: Oh, holy shit, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao got himself a Facebook page.

MOE: Great Wall Of Facebook ... snicker

MOE: And we have the earthquake to thank!

MEGAN: And it connects to his Flickr!!

MOE: More than 500 people have written on his wall.


The page appears to have been set up recently. It is not clear whether Wen, 65, did it himself. Perhaps another government official put it up, or, just as likely, someone with no ties to Wen.


MEGAN: More than 1,000 people have written on it as of right now, actually.

MOE: So far this is the most profound I've found in English

Evelyn Chang (China) wrote

at 9:06am

Please do take care of yourself!!!!

I know there are many tough problems in China,but don't push yourself too much.

You care about Chinese people,and Chinese people also care about you.



Cindy Zhang wrote

at 9:04am

John Doededoe i read quite a few your posting and have to response. First i live in austrlain and have been in last 20 year and did not support chinese government until torch relay so i have nothing to gain in support chinese government, since they never pay anything for me.

You impression of china is distorted by biasd western media and if you only read repression of china after incident i would blame western media.

You mentioned Tiananmen square, but i tell you china has come a long way not just in economy but also in personal and political freedom and i hope your view of china can be updated as well, just like we should not use the histroy of black slave as a reason to again today's USA government. I hope i really want to know china go to china and talk to its ppl as some of view about china is breath taking


MEGAN: It sort of makes me wish I could read Mandarin (I'm assuming it's in Mandarin and not Cantonese).

MOE: The characters are the same no matter what dialect you use.

MEGAN: Ah, my former roommate never told me that. Of course, she hated

me, so she didn't tell me a lot of things.

MOE: But in China (and Singapore) they use simplified versions of them. And in Hong Kong and Taiwan (which speak separate dialects, Cantonese and Taiwanese or Hokkien) they use the old school versions.

MEGAN: Except that when she was young she was a liberal arts major, too, but then she wised up and went to business school and I would, too.

MOE: That's still my plan

MEGAN: She was from Hong Kong, but her parents moved before the transition so they wouldn't lose all their money.

MEGAN: Well, I don't know how great a plan it was for her, but I can tell you how staying a German Lit major ended up for me. Umm, well, I mean, I guess you already know.

MOE: Here's some sophisticated analysis:

Michael Kingston wrote

at 8:59am

I get tired of some people who always give examples of 1 particular person detained or jailed for speaking against the government. The truth is, millions of chinese protest against the gov. every year, and sometimes the gov. gives in. Its no different frm the west.


MEGAN: Can we friend that idiot?

MOE: I like the first 25 pages of Death In Venice btw! But reading it made me somehow woozy. I need a vacation too.

MEGAN: Yeah, it's kind of trippy, right? Luckily, you don't have that many more pages to go. I don't want to spoil it for you, but somebody dies!

MOE: Did you read TRex's post When Good Droids Go Bad?

Goddamn, can we PLEASE just send Karl Rove to Gitmo until we can arrange a suitable trial for him? You know, like, whenever we get around to it?


He'd also like to send Bush to Gruinard a.k.a. Scotland's Anthrax Island, which I didn't know about. (Thanks TRex!) It's always weird reading stories about weapons of mass destruction andsuch dated shortly before 9/11. Somewhere some guy was like, "DUUUDE, I totally did my thesis on this dammit!" Oh and speaking of — well not really, did you catch the interview with Frank Fukuyama?

MEGAN: TRex interviewed Fukuyama? Dude, I would pay actual money to see that.

MEGAN: Just like I'd sorta like to see the look on the Myanmar embassy staff's faces when they start opening up envelope after envelope of used granny panties.


MOE: I touched on it yesterday in News Roundup…There's some stuff about US-Australian relations toward the end which is kind of boring but basically he loves Obama, he is totally over "hard power"…This is the important part:


There needs to be great downplaying of the whole war on terrorism. To call it a war I think has over-militarised our objectives and the means that we have used to prosecute it, and I think there has to be a greater shift to the use of soft power in projecting American influence and then there are large areas of the world where we have kind of neglected thinking about things like east Asia where you have obviously got some very big changes going off.


Not a lot of conservatives have gone out and said that. That said, Fukuyama was never a huge jihad guy. We mostly talked about the Latins and the Asians in the class I took. He was going through this phase where he was super into encouraging and galvanizing societal "trust" — which was why I never took him seriously as a neocon.

MEGAN: That must've been, like, his End of History period, right?

MOE: "The End of History" was 1989 I believe, and this was 1998. He had moved on to some Joseph Putnam shit, corporate culture, this book that sort of blamed The Pill for all the West's modern social problems…terror was less on the agenda. I mean, it sort of makes sense. Remember studying policsci in college? Remember all the dual degree engineers and weirdos who threw themselves into covering the "rogue states"? I remember thinking, "Dudes, you know China is going to be a much bigger deal, right?" Well. Not when it comes to getting in on the DoD budget!

MEGAN: I, um, never took a single PoliSci class in college. I was a German Lit and a Sociology major and I minored in History

MEGAN: Also, I finished college in 1999, I'm not sure if rogue states were quite in vogue yet. Maybe they were. I avoided both the PoliSci and IR departments like the plague. Those people were all really, really intense and kind of annoying knowitalls. Yes, I recognize the irony of me saying that.

MOE: Speaking of, what group of auditors and appropriations monitors is worse off than our financial regulatory system?


MOE: Rogue states were totes the rage in some of my classes. But I also went to Penn, where…a lot of kids went on birthright trips.

MEGAN: See, I think the real question is whether the continuing lack of political appointees hurts or actually fucking helps that.

MEGAN: I didn't get a birthright, let alone a birthright trip.

MOE: (And by the way haters I had a wonderful experience and wouldn't change it for …well maybe I would go back and study economics and Russian lit at a small liberal arts college with a slightly lower tool ratio but, anyway, i dropped out because I didn't have the money. That is all.) Finally though.

MOE: Firedoglake wants to know why all these people who leave always express their fondness for the president even as they admit his administration ushered in an era of unprecedented corruption and inhumanity etc. etc.

MOE: And I think about that a lot and I think the answer is simply that the president is retarded.

MEGAN: Washington has elevated CYA to an art form. It's the only place where you can have your cake and eat it, too, and get two birds in the hand and still leave one in a bush. It's where you can sell your boss and all your former colleagues downriver for the sake of your career and still claim that you like and respect them.

MOE: Ahem, I don't think that's really how it went down with Paul O'Neill.

MEGAN: You gotta practice talking out of both sides of your mouth before you come, and Scottie was the White House Press Secretary, he could probably talk out of both sides and the middle.

MOE: See I disagree? What good does it do to say you respect and admire that imbecile? And meanwhile vilify everyone involved in the administration who might have to hold a job later on? I think there's a class of Bush administration defectors — and he's in the camp with O'Neill and the Italian faith-based organization dude Suskind also wrote about —- who look at it like a cult sorta.

MEGAN: Well, but who is going to get him a job? Pay for his speaking engagements? Karl Rove, who thought that Scottie was an idiot? Or the people that think he should be loyal to Bush (his former boss) but don't give a shit about the other people? He's got to prove he's not a fool while still showing loyalty. I think, on that score, he's pretty successful.

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@RyanB: Without a doubt, Powell. Powell was in a position of far higher authority and far more access. The difference in culpability is stark. Powell knowingly lied to the UN about Iraq's biochemical weapons. And Powell, as per his own Powell doctrine, knew completely well that the US didn't have the numbers needed to pull off an Iraqi occupation. His own papers on military strategy predicted exactly the guerrilla war the US is currently mired in in Iraq. He knew, without a doubt, the impossible burden put on his fellow soldiers and how they would suffer for it. He could've stopped the war by resigning and coming out against it. Sure, McClellan could've resigned and made a stink. But he is far easier to dismiss and replace.

Going by his actions and inactions, Powell is a wretched man.