I have not read Scott McClellan’s new memoir about his role as President Bush’s former press secretary. And so perhaps that puts me in a precarious position to be commenting on it. Nevertheless, here goes.
From the reviews I have read, McClellan apparently confesses that he joined the “culture of deception” that characterized and still characterizes the Bush administration. During his tenure of office, he was a big player in creating the communications strategy of the White House. Moreover, he looked the American people in the face over and over again and told us what he knew to be bald-faced lies. And now he’s telling us how he himself was deceived? Pity.
I heard him say in an interview this morning on NPR that President Bush and his compatriots didn’t actually know that they were deceiving the American people–they were just caught up in a system “that works that way.” (Or something to that effect.) I guess nobody is really responsible, then, for the war in Iraq. Gee, too bad about all those dead soldiers and those tens of thousands left with horrific physical and emotional wounds from the conflict. Too bad about the devastation wrought upon the country of Iraq itself and too bad about all the dead Iraqi civilians. This deception business was just . . . good people getting caught in a bad system, I guess. We wouldn’t want to lay blame now, would we?
Let me guess how this pseudo-confessional memoir came to be. McClellan had two needs: (1) to disavow himself of his relationship with the Bush administration, regaining in the process some semblance of personal integrity and respect; and (2) to make a chunk of money. His publisher probably said something like this to him: “Scott, there’s only one way to make this book fly–tell the truth. Yes, rat on your friends. I know that will be hard for you–but I’ve got to tell you, it’s the only thing that will sell.”
And so now we have yet another memoir from yet another past Bush staff member or hanger-on who is telling us that the present administration is dishonest and/or corrupt. I have just two comments, and then I want to go wash my hands, because suddenly they feel grimy: (1) how long does it take the American public to catch on to the level of abuse they have been subjected to by the Bush administration? How many more such books will have to be written? and (2) how thoroughly did member of Congress bother to inform themselves about the probable consequences of our unilateral attack on Iraq? And where have they been hiding out for the years since that first ignominous attack?
The ignorance of the American public, aided and abetted by the cowardness and ineptitude of the media, and the formidable lack of both knowledge and courage of our elected officials is astounding indeed. And yes, blame should be laid. The theological term for this is “sin.”
Such a political, and I might add spiritual, void leaves a vast, open space that cries out for change. Let us hope and pray that with our desperate need, leaders of vision and integrity and strength will step forward.