September 29, 2023

All The President's Meh

All The President’s Meh

There may or may not have been another terrorist attack on downtown Manhattan today but you wouldn’t have known it if you tried to get any news that today that didn’t have to do with Scott McClellan and his prematurely-released suitcase bomb on his former employer and benefactor, President George W. Bush, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.

No matter how many much you read today or how many hours you spent flipping past MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Military Channel, the Golf Channel, C-SPAN for Kids or MTV’s Pimp My Retirement, it was all Scott McClellan all the time.

Back in 1992, George Herbert Walker Bush was on the stump in New Hampshire talking to an audience in Exeter. “Message: I care.”

McClellan’s disclosures couldn’t have been more clear of the boy President’s MO. “Message: I don’t care.”

To paraphrase another seminal 1990s moment, you didn’t see a sign in George W. Bush’s driveway reading “I care,” and you know why? Because caring isn’t his fuckin’ business.

McClellan released his book to a number of media outlets this week with the request that they not release excerpts until just before its next-Monday release date, but queered that patch and the rest of the press followed with a dumbfounding vomitose tell-all that excoriated McClellan’s erstwhile boss and his boss’ minions with the kind of bombshells that are usually reserved for a CSD interview with a 14-year-old confessing a history of abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Only in this case the stepfather was George W. Bush and the 14-year-old was the United States.

McClellan tells of an overheard phone call during the 2000 campaign where he alleges Bush said he couldn’t remember if he’d ever tried cocaine before. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘How can that be?’ ” McClellan writes. Indeed. You remember–either because it burned your nostrils, because you hated the bitter aspirin drip in the back of your throat, or because you paid for it and were disappointed within ten minutes. You may regret cocaine, but you’ll never have trouble remembering whether or not you ever tried it.

McClellan had some scathing words for Bush’s lack of propsensity for reflection and accountability. “A more self-confident executive would be willing to acknowledge failure, to trust people’s ability to forgive those who seek redemption for mistakes and show a readiness to change,” McClellan writes. Indeed, Thom Hartman and Carl Wolfson on Portland’s Air America affiliate, KPOJ 620 AM, today told of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon breaking down and weeping when the war wasn’t going well. George Bush turns to mountain biking, and jokes about his golf drive.

All The President's MehThe White House and its surrogates were apoplectic. Carl Rove lamented, “(T)his doesn’t sound like Scott. It really doesn’t. Not the Scott McClellan I have known for a long time…sounds like somebody else, it sounds like a left-wing blogger. Second of all, if he had these moral qualms he should have spoken up about them. And frankly I don’t remember him speaking up about these things, I don’t remember a single word.”

And the woman who now mans McClellan’s former podium, Dana Perino: “Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House,” Perino said in a statement. “For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad – this is not the Scott we knew.”

George Bush was horribly disappointed in his boy leaving the fold. He’s had a long relationship with the McClellan family and carried young Scott under his wing, and can’t help but feel like Jose Menendez right now, but with only a figurative hole in the back of his head.

Scott was supposed to be the loyal son, the automaton; the programmable one. He wasn’t supposed to have a spine or an opinion. George took him in at a young age, and He may still be doing it for the money, but without parsing his intentions, he has clearly torched a number of bridges with his book.

“As I have heard Bush say, only a wartime President is likely to achieve greatness, inpart because the epochal upheavals of war provide the opportunity for transformative change of the kind Bush hoped to achieve. In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.” As we all know, that begat “Mission Accomplished” which begat today’s commencement address to the graduates of Colorado’s Air Force Academy “we’re learning as we go along” in Iraq and Afghanistan (you remember–the other war; the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the 6’4″ diabetic who keeps taunting us with eye-poking audiotapes while he’s living the unobstructed rural life in the mountains of Tora Bora where we let him get away six and a half years ago).

His most scathing and telling indictment of the President came with his charge that Bush demonstrates a “lack of inquisitiveness [and] a detrimental resistance to reflection.” Disgruntled or not, that’s a family defection bitch-slap that you can’t ignore. Everyone has always accused Bush of being stupid, but many others have accused him of something worse, something that is also the product of a crude brain: Arrogant indifference. This President doesn’t care about you and he never has. The sooner he’s out of his seat the better. Scott’s motives may not be pure–for a seven-figure book advance, which Scott may or may not have gotten–I’d be at least tempted to say terrible things about almost anyone. But he’s got no where to go after this. He could have kept his mouth shut into a consultant position with one of the loyal former Bush associates and fallen ass-first into a comfortable salary and non-taxing career.

I don’t want to accuse him of a having a conscience, but it does beg further scrutiny.