Last month, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan published a memoir asserting that the Bush administration waged a “propaganda” campaign used to “sell the war” in Iraq to the public. He also said that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby deliberately sent him to the press to lie about their connection to the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.
Today, McClellan is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. In his opening statement, the committee’s ranking member Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), one of Bush’s most loyal defenders, derided the hearing as the committee’s “first book-of-the-month-club meeting,” and suggested the next book should one by right-winger Ann Coulter. Lamar also compared McClellan to Judas, insisting he was “selling out the president” for “a few pieces of silver”:
SMITH: Welcome to the House Judicary Committee’s first book-of-the-month-club meeting. I propose that next time we consider Ann Coulter’s book, “How To Talk To A Liberal If You Must.” It’s hard to take Mr. McClellan or this hearing too seriously. … Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver.
There’s no comparison between Coulter — who never served in the administration — and McClellan, who was a member of Bush’s inner circle for most of the past decade. Later in the hearing, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) apologized to McClellan for the “aspersions as to your motives…that we heard a few minutes ago.” “Such character assassination has no business in this committee,” Nadler said.
Lamar’s attempts to dismiss McClellan’s testimony echoes the strategy on the right to write off McClellan’s complaints as unimportant and disloyal. McClellan’s former boss Ari Fleischer insisted that only “Washington and people who follow Washington” cared about McClellan’s allegation. “I’m bored,” Bill O’Reilly complained, while Former House Speaker declared, “I’m more concerned about American Idol than I am about Scott McClellan.” White House officials also blasted him as a “traitor” and a “Benedict.”