When Scott McClellan resigned as Press Secretary on April 19, 2006, his White House officials colleagues heaped praise on him:
President Bush: “And I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity. He really represents the best of his family, our state and our country.” [4/19/06]
White House Counselor Dan Bartlett: McClellan “served this country and this White House very well during very difficult times.” [On Hardball, 4/19/06]
Former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: McClellan enjoyed “the trust and confidence of the president” and “was flawless in his performance, especially when you read the transcripts.” [4/20/06]
Yet news of McClellan’s tell-all book seems to have soured White House officials’ impression of him. Current Press Secretary Dana Perino said McClellan was obviously “disgruntled,” while Fleischer said he was “heartbroken,” and Bartlett called the book “total crap.”
MSNBC’s Kevin Corke reported this afternoon that White House officials, on background, went even further, calling McClellan a “traitor” and likening him to Benedict Arnold. He said the White House was “upset,” substituting that word for a word he said he could not repeat on television:
CORKE: I have heard on background they are upset. I’m using the word upset because that’s not the word they used, and it is not the word I can say on TV. Another person said they are flat out angry about what transpired here. I heard the word “traitor” and “Benedict.” I think another person said to me, not far from here, it was like a shot to the gut when you are not looking. [...]
O’DONNEL: Quickly Kevin, a White House staffer said to you on background — they used the word “traitor”?
CORKE: “Traitor.” Absolutely. And I raised my eyebrows, and he said, It is what it is.
The right wing is circling the wagons to go on damage control. National Review’s blog, the Corner, insisted today that McClellan was a Hamas apologist. Michelle Malkin derides McClellan as a “turncoat,” and Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin calls the book “catty” and its author a “hack,” and dismisses McClellan as “probably the worst White House press secretary in recent memory.”