Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Former Bush Aide: Bush Administration Not As Perfect As You Thought

Remember Scott McClellan? He was the doughy White House press secretary whose goofy incompetence served as a lighthearted bridge between Ari Fleischer's nerdy intransigence and Tony Snow's polished duplicity. (We haven't yet figured out a descriptor for current briefer Dana Perino, but since the Bush administration is, at this point, one prolonged exercise in running out the clock, it doesn't make much of a difference.) Anyway, old Scott's gone and published a memoir called What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, in which he says some not so nice things about his former employers. The highlights:

President Bush "convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment... to this day, the president seems unbothered by the disconnect between the chief rationale for war and the driving motivation behind it."

• Both Scotty and the president were victims of deceit over the Valerie Plame affair: "He too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth—including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheneyallowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie."

• Hurricane Katrina? Not so good for the administration. "One of the worst disasters in our nation's history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush's presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush's second term. And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath."

• The war in Iraq was a needless conflict sold on deception and propaganda, with an assist from the media: "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."

• Bush may very well have tried meth, heroin, and PCP, but due to the voluminous quantities he used to consume, he burned away the part of his brain that retained those memories. "'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"

• Karl Rove once ate three entire boxes of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Holes in front of a starving chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey, who had been made to go a week without food as punishment for revealing the cost of the war to the Wall Street Journal.

Okay, that last one is made up, but if it weren't it would be the only revelatory thing in the book. The administration lied about Iraq and Valerie Plame? They fucked up Katrina? Bush did drugs? The media was spineless and craven during the march to war? If there's anyone out there to whom this comes as a shock, What Happened is available in certain Washington bookstores now. Should you somehow manage to dress yourself and find your way to the shops, you'll be able to discover many more stunning secrets like these.

Via Radar

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