An opportunistic former official

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It is unfortunate that the publicity provided to Scott McClellan, former press secretary to the current president, will no doubt make a best seller of his tell-all insider book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

The reason that this is unfortunate is that the book is apparently written for the purpose of earning money, not out of a desire to contribute anything meaningful to discussion on public policy. The time for McClellan to object to President Bush's policies was when he was a high level member of the administration but he defended those policies publicly and we're told made no objections about those policies within the administration.

That being said, the press cannot simply ignore a former high official of the administration leveling criticism at the administration. McClellan's allegations are newsworthy, despite our distaste toward the unjust enrichment of McClellan resulting from reporting that news.

According to early reports on the book, McClellan accuses the president of relying on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" in his efforts to convince Americans that the Iraq war was a worthwhile endeavor.

The book also criticized Bush on the handling of various domestic situations including the response to Hurricane Katrina.

A presidential administration official should not be expected to agree with everything the president says and does, but a person who defends the administration's policies year after year and is in a position to help shape those policies should be expected to agree with the president in general, although not in every detail.

President Bush already has a low approval rating and we suspect that this book will not do him much harm at this point.

The reputation that will be most damaged by the book is that of McClellan, but he will still make a lot of money from it.