“Seriously….what happened?”


When Ari Fleischer’s book, Taking Heat, was released in 2005, was there much fanfare? Did he get an invitation to spoon with Keith Olbermann? No. Mainstream journalists didn’t seem to particularly like it.

I understand that part of the media attention is merely that “controversy sells”. But another aspect is anti-Bush bias on the part of a lazy media, that’s already written the narrative that “Bush lied, people died”.

Those who already have it in for the Bush Administration, want to make more out of Scott McClellan’s perspective than is probably warranted, when he talks of how the Iraq War was sold to the American people with a sophisticated “political propaganda campaign” and aimed at “manipulating sources of public opinion” and “downplaying the major reason for going to war.”

I am not automatically arguing that Scott McClellan is lying; he may well believe what is written in his book, and reflects his feelings accurately. But are facts shaping his perception and perspective? Or are his perspective and perception shaping the facts?

WSJ lead editorial:

The problem is that Mr. McClellan presents no major new detail to support his conclusions about Iraq, or even about the Administration’s deliberations about how to sell the war. This may be because he was the deputy press secretary for domestic issues during the run-up to war and thus rarely attended war strategy sessions.

Someone else who recently saw his book release with moderate fanfare (namely, because it’s not an anti-Bush “tell-all”), is Douglas Feith‘s “War and Decision“. As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 to August 2005, and one of the architects of the War in Iraq, Douglas Feith’s book should carry more weight on matters related to the run-up to war.

This weekend, I will go down to the bookstore and peruse McClellan’s memoir. From the sounds of it, McClellan’s book reads like a 30-pieces-of-silver-store gossip novel, filled more with opinions and impressions, than with concrete facts (apparently, no footnotes).

I haven’t read all of Feith’s book; but it is a serious work, well-sourced with a rich, detailed appendix. Anyone who downright dismisses its scholarly relevance and historical importance out of partisan prejudice, does themselves a disservice.

I admit that my partisanship makes me knee-jerk suspicious of McClellan’s book; but it also seems to contradict information that I know to be well-documented (not just right-wing spin, but from actual intell documents, Senate Intell Committee hearings, etc.). Seth Leibsohn sums it up:

The evidence I’ve seen does in fact show that the administration had different justifications for the liberation of Iraq — but we saw them plainly and in the open before as well as after the invasion. The president, the secretary of state, the VP, and many others gave lots of reasons for the invasion of Iraq. There were international legal cases, there were public policy cases, there were national security cases all to be made. And they were. The idea that the press didn’t do its job and was too soft on the president — as McClellan writes — is, frankly, laughable. Raise your hand if you have any evidence that the press was too soft on the administration.

Also, from the WSJ editorial I linked to earlier:

His talking points are merely the well-trod claims that the Administration oversold the evidence about WMD and al Qaeda.

Three independent investigations have looked into these claims, and all of them concluded that political actors did not skew intelligence to sell the war. These include the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2004, the Robb-Silberman report of 2005, and Britain’s Butler report. They explain that U.S. – and all Western – intelligence was mistaken but not distorted. Saddam Hussein himself told U.S. interrogators that he kept the fact that he lacked WMD even from many of his own generals.

If one wants a serious “insider’s account” on what happened after 9/11 to bring us into concluding the war against Saddam Hussein which began in 1991, start with the book written by the number 3 civilian war architect in the Pentagon.

Another contrast between the two books? ALL of the revenue to Feith’s book is going to charities that help veterans and military families.

Just one more reason to purchase a serious book of history over a frivolous personal gossip memoir, if one only had $30 to slap down on the table.

Previous posts on Douglas Feith:
The New Douglas Feith Book On Iraq

Feith on Iraq: Not a retaliatory response to 9/11
War and Decision

Previous posts on Scott McClellan:

The Rehabilitation Of A Bad Legacy
The McClellan Fiasco Continues

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Lemme get this straight….
Franks blames Feith and Bremer for pre-invasion intel and post invasion problems respectively
Bremer blames Tenet for poor intel about what condition Iraq was really in before the invasion
Tenet blames Feith for distorting intel that the CIA rebutted 48hrs after the last presenation from Feith’s group (and let’s ignore the dozens of closed door hearings the CIA had w the WH, Senate, and House intel committees after the last presentation from Feith’s group)
Feith says biggest w Iraq war was PR handling and letting msm run roughshod-even literally airing enemy propaganda videos on CNN etc.

Now out pops McClellan saying it was NOT the PR (his job), but instead points fingers at Rove and others who apparently must have held rank over Tenet, 15 other intelligence leaders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Franks, Rice, and Powell. How’d Rove do this? Well, McClellan tells us that’s how things went in the meetings he wasn’t in.

yeah, ok. Thanks for the tell all. Fits the model great. Too bad you’ve shot your wad before the Admin’s over. Now you’ll never be able to capitalize on the Obama Era “It’s Bush’s Fault” moola.

Exit question:
What company on the planet would hire this guy as a spokesman now?

McClellan tells us that’s how things went in the meetings he wasn’t in.

*That*, Mr. Scott, should be the McClellan’s book subtitle. Brilliant.

As I said in another thread, just how credible is he? The guy fully admits being in the dark for most of his tenure. If he didn’t know anything then, what can he magically tell us now, post de facto? What should have been a paragraph in an essay became a novel.

And I’ll repeat something else. I hope they do have a Congressional hearing, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is trying to do. I’d like to know just what he is willing to testify to, with first hand knowledge, while under oath. Everything else is embellishment and speculation that is permissible in literature (as long as not libel).

National Security information has been leaked by the truckload and resulted in the death of hundreds. Hey Scotty, did they beam up the traitor?

It’s not the same book. His editor tweaked it with ALL the liberal gibberish that has been going on for years. It is a wonder he didn’t detail how Bush arranged 911 but I suppose that would be going too far in the credibility department. The other publishers turned this book down because it was boring and contributed nothing to general knowledge. But this liberal editor changed all that and tried to justify all their talking points in one book by a sort of loyal insider. Scott McClellan is a turncoat and he did it for money. I watched his smirking face for a few minutes on an Olberman (gag!!!) video but could not take it for very long. He was the worst spokesman for the president I have ever seen. He looked wooden and clueless and spoke in a dead monotous voice like Ben Stein’s high school teacher role in the Wonder Years.

Rush to war. That’s not my recollection. Mine is what in the hell is taking so long. How many times did we go to the UN in an effort to appease the democrats who think the UN should be governing us. Were we going to wait until Saddam has the bomb? Just like we are waiting until Iran has the bomb. Any idiott knows Saddam shipped this stuff to Syria who has since given it to Iran. I don’t believe for a minute that Saddam didn’t have ths stuff. There ws no other reason he defied the whole world about it. It could not have been that he thought we wouldn’t do anything. We were already in Afghanistan. We had shown we could do something and we were angry enough until politics interupped our resolve after 911.

Barbara said: “It is a wonder he didn’t detail how Bush arranged 911 “

He’ll do that in his next book.

I too remember the slowest “rush” to war of all time. No wonder Saddam had plenty of opportunities to get rid of the WMD.

This McClellan book is crap and the man should be ashamed.