In an explosive new memoir, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes that the Bush administration engaged in a “political propaganda campaign” to sell the Iraq war and that it misled him on the Valerie Plame scandal. Today, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino slammed McClellan today as a “disgruntled” employee; former press secretary Ari Fleischer said he was “heartbroken.”
Other former White House officials started the smear campaign last night. Karl Rove, interviewed on Hannity and Colmes, asserted that McClellan sounded more like “a left-wing blogger” than himself. Former Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend, interviewed on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, called McClellan “self-serving” and “disingenuous.”
McClellan is experiencing the same automatic smear response the White House deploys against former allies who dare to criticize the administration, including former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan or former head of faith-based initiatives John DiIulio. Some other lowlights:
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill
WROTE: Bush planned in invade Iraq before 9/11 and was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people” during Cabinet meetings.
SMEAR: “We didn’t listen to [O’Neill’s] wacky ideas when he was in the White House, why should we start listening to him now?” — A senior official who informed Bush of O’Neill’s comments, 1/12/04
Former Campaign Chief Strategist Matthew Dowd
SAID: Bush has “become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in”; that “our leaders have to understand what they [the American public] want. They’re saying, ‘Get out of Iraq.’”
SMEAR: “He’s going through a lot of personal turmoil but also he has a son who is soon to be deployed to Iraq. That could only impact a parents’ mind as they think through these issues.” — Dan Bartlett, 4/1/07
Former Counter-Terrorism Chief Richard Clarke
WROTE: Bush “ignored terrorism for months”; sought to tie 9/11 to Iraq immediately.
SMEAR: “He wanted to be the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department after it was created. … He did not get that position, someone else was appointed to it. … His best friend is Rand Beers, who is the principal advisor to the Kerry campaign.” — Scott McClellan, while serving as press secretary, 3/22/04
According to the Politico, a “former colleague” said of McClellan: “It looks like a fairly pathetic attempt to restore his reputation by junking the only positive attribute people saw in him — loyalty.”
MSNBC’s David Gregory reports that President Bush is “disappointed” and “saddened” by the book.