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Tilting at Windmills

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November 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FOR THE BENEFIT OF HISTORY....Via HuffPo via Atrios, PublicAffairs has posted a short excerpt from Scott McClellan's upcoming memoir of his time in the Bush administration press shop. The subject is Valerie Plame:

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.

Now, Lord knows I don't want to question McClellan's claim that his book was "written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history." But would it be presumptuous of me to suspect that his explanation of Plamegate is somehow going to make it out as nothing more than a silly mistake that the press blew all out of proportion?

Kevin Drum 9:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

Shouldn't "president" be capitalized?

Posted by: tonboloni on November 19, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

> But would it be presumptuous of me to suspect
> that his explanation of Plamegate is somehow
> going to make it out as nothing more than a
> silly mistake that the press blew all out of
> proportion?

I couldn't tell if he was referring to the Libby Treason in that paragraph or just the Iraq fiasco in general.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on November 19, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm wondering how Dana Perino will respond to the inevitable questions about Scotty's book. Will the quotations be "out of context"? a "difference of opinion"? a "different recollection"? or just plain "fiction"?

Posted by: MatthewB on November 19, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Kevin: just how do you spin " help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction" and "passed along false information" with the involvement of "the President himself" as a silly mistake?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 19, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

thanks for the info back in 2004, dillweed.

Posted by: cleek on November 19, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

It is well known that Scott McClellan has extreme leftist views and is consumed with "Bush Hatred." Nobody should believe a word he says. And it is all just politics anyway. Valerie Plame wasn't covert, and this is old news.

Sorry ... just getting out in front of the dittoheads.

Now that I've already used up their talking points all at once, what will they have left to say? :-)

Posted by: Bokonon on November 19, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'm a MatthewB, too!

Kevin, next thing I know, you might start insinuating that Plame was outed for petty political purposes!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on November 19, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist:

Easy! The lost credibility is about WMD, so you grant that. But then McClellan publicly--and falsely--exonerated Rove and Libby of ... what, exactly?

Of being too loyal to Armitage, who accidentally let the name of an officially-classified, but totally-unimportant-and-already-outed-anyway pencil-pusher, slip.

Posted by: gussie on November 19, 2007 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't "president" be waterboarded?

Fixed.

Posted by: craigie on November 19, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

But would it be presumptuous of me to suspect that his explanation of Plamegate is somehow going to make it out as nothing more than a silly mistake that the press blew all out of proportion?

No, if you're talking about his likely account of the underlying conduct in summer 2003. Yes, if you're talking about the gravity of those five top official using him to lie for two weeks, and really for several years, to the press and the public. Virtually his entire tenure was shadowed by this episode, and he was repeatedly left dangling in the wind by the administration. I doubt he's going to blame the press for that.

Posted by: Jeff on November 19, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

it only took 8 comments for me to again wonder what kevin did in a former life to attract such miserably stupid trolls. gussie takes the cake for nitwit of the night at a very early point.

as for the real topic here, i can't tell from this which way mccllelan wants to play this, but if he wants to sell books, he'll note that pro-bush material is not exactly tearing it up in the markeplace.

Posted by: howard on November 19, 2007 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, whom among us hasn't unknowingly passed along false information involving the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

After all, Dan Rather! Richard Armitage! Bill Clinton! Joycelyn Elders! Vince Foster! The Bitch!

Posted by: anonymous on November 19, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

The persistent troll infestation on Kevin's blogs has always been a strange thing to behold. Nowhere else are the trolls so tenacious in their trolling.

Posted by: Old Hat on November 19, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nowhere else are non-smurfs so smurfishly called smurfs!

How do -you- expect McClellan might turn this statement into, as Kevin says, 'a silly mistake that the press blew all out of proportion?'

Wait. Does that mean that Kevin pre-trolled his own thread?

But I'm open to suggestions. If you think there's another answer to Kevin's question, I'd be interested to hear it.

Posted by: gussie on November 19, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

No, no, Gussie is just explaining how Kevin's presumption might play out in the book despite the quote. Just a response to the Americanist's question. I'd presume innocent of trolling here.

Posted by: John on November 19, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

UH, Kevin? It actually sounds like exposing a conspiracy. I kinda like the juxtaposition of "the most powerful man in the world" and "it wasn't true". Has a nice ring to it.

Posted by: buck on November 19, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymity + Internet + Bush Apologist = Troll.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on November 19, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "But would it be presumptuous of me to suspect that his explanation of Plamegate is somehow going to make it out as nothing more than a silly mistake that the press blew all out of proportion?"

In a word: Yes.

Such presumptuousness on your part is both premature and undignified.

Most certainly, such politically controversial excerpts should first and foremost always be considered carefully and properly within the overall context of that motherfuckin' smarmy little kiss-ass's bullshit-athon of a memoir, lest we pass such cynical judgments in haste.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 19, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

The apple spots will run well on the coasts and the top left is probably most powerful everywhere. Though, I think the top left should also include mention of civil rights. Well done.

Posted by: miles on November 19, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

But then McClellan publicly--and falsely--exonerated Rove and Libby of ... what, exactly?

Wow, gussie, this is a shockingly uninformed question. McClellan publicly and falsely exonerated Rove and Libby of leaking Valerie Wilson's identity as an employee of the CIA to the press and of leaking classified information to the press.

Posted by: Jeff on November 19, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if you read this far into the comments, I expect an apologetic e-card.

Posted by: gussie on November 19, 2007 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

This excerpt is terribly written. Does he think he's building narrative tension in the first paragraph? Hey Scottie, we already know it wasn't true.

Posted by: matt on November 19, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

[This tired trope has been dispensed with. Your blatant dishonesty and willful ignorance will be deleted. You will find no bridge to hide beneath here.]

Posted by: Toby Petzold on November 19, 2007 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Toby,

No one was charged with that crime, because there was Obstruction Of Justice. The obstruction was criminal, and someone was charged, tried, and found guilty.

You get three guesses to name the convicted felon.

Do try to keep up, won't you?

Posted by: jcricket on November 19, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

[This tired trope has been dispensed with. Your blatant dishonesty and willful ignorance will be deleted. You will find no bridge to hide beneath here.]

Posted by: Toby Petzold on November 19, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nice copy and paste, but you fail at (not so) current events.

Let's set fire to your little strawman right now, shall we?

This thread is NOT about Joe and Valerie's only source of income since they can no longer pursue careers in government.

It is about how Scottie McClellan's new book tells us what lying sacks of shit the top five administration officials were at the time Mr Bush was telling the nation that he was going to fire the person responsible for the leak (smirk).

It is about how those same lying sacks of shit are going to do their best to minimize what Scottie has to say now that he is out on his own.

Do try to keep up.

Posted by: jcricket on November 19, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't "president" be capitalized?

No, putting it in quotation marks as you did is much more appropriate.

Posted by: SC on November 19, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

My wife treats me very badly. Last night she said she was limiting me to sex once a month. I'm not so angry. I know three people she cut off completely.

-Johnny Twain

Posted by: absent observer on November 20, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

ok gussie, i confess: i was wrong. i didn't see that you were responding in wingnut fashion to the americanist, not citing your own opinion. it is sometimes hard to tell the parody from the real deal....

Posted by: howard on November 20, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yes it is presumptious. Just wait to read what he wrote.

Posted by: brian on November 20, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit, while I probably won't stand in any lines to buy a first edition, it will be interesting to hear other excerpts or reviews.

If wingnut heads start to explode, then the entertainment value climbs.

Posted by: jcricket on November 20, 2007 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

I second howard's apology.

Posted by: Jeff on November 20, 2007 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

This is somewhat OT but does anyone else find it odd that Valerie mentioned nothing of the findings of the UNMOVIC crews that had been on the ground in Iraq for months leading up to the invasion? After all it was her mission in life to sort out the speculative info coming out of Iraq and suddenly we have hundreds of "humint" on the ground with unlimited access to anywhere in Iraq and she is surprisingly silent on the fact that these inspectors disproved all hints of WMD's that her group could only speculate on. A real weak point in Fair Game no?

Posted by: boba on November 20, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

How do you know she didn't? Half that book is redacted.

Posted by: jcricket on November 20, 2007 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

I shoulda done the ellipsis better: "help restore credibility he lost..." and "passed along false information..." WITH the involvement of "the President himself..." cuz that I left the WMD in the quote confuses folks like gussie.

Look, McClellan was the spokesman for the President of the United States: he had a constituency of ONE.

He just told us that guy told HIM, to lie. (It doesn't matter that McClellan didn't know he was telling a lie on behalf of the President: McClellan is not important in himself.)

Against the credibility of his spokesman, to be sure: but what the excerpt says is that this lie was ALSO against the President's interest in restoring his OWN credibility.

So it doesn't really matter whether the President had lost credibility over WMDs in Iraq, or tax policy, or any other damned thing.

The point is that as his spokesman, McClellan's job was to restore Bush's credibility. Not only did Bush's top people fail to help McClellan do that, Bush HIMSELF was involved in his spokesman providing false information to the media -- information that eventually resulted in the perjury conviction of the Vice President's chief of staff.

Put it this way, folks: he just told us he was holding Lewinsky's hair out of the way and looking out the window.

Kinda hard to spin that as 'depends what the definition of "is", is.'

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 20, 2007 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

KD- you must have a bad day yesterday- how is it that acknowledging that the President is a bold face liar that makes others look bad going to make him, the Prez, look good?

Posted by: Raoul on November 20, 2007 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget........

Top Bush Aide Is Questioned In C.I.A. Leak

President Bush's press secretary and a former White House press aide testified on Friday to a federal grand jury investigating who improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer, the press secretary and a lawyer for the aide said on Monday.

The appearances of the press secretary, Scott McClellan, and the press aide, Adam Levine, reflected what lawyers in the case said was the quickening pace of a criminal inquiry in which a special prosecutor is examining conversations between journalists and the White House. .....

Posted by: avahome on November 20, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

No, putting it in quotation marks as you did is much more appropriate.

Haw!

And I await the fallout of little Scotty's bombshell with great interest.

Posted by: shortstop on November 20, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"For the benefit of History" Bush will always be remembered as the worst president in History with all his lies, corruption and theivery. Bushs brother sits on the board of Blackwater and they are Bush & Cheneys Henchmen they can shoot whomever they want and they will never be touched as far as any kind of prosecution. Maybe Cheney should invite them to go hunting, keep your helmets and body armour on boys if he does.

Posted by: Al on November 20, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Now, Lord knows I don't want to question McClellan's claim that his book was "written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history." But would it be presumptuous of me to suspect that his explanation of Plamegate is somehow going to make it out as nothing more than a silly mistake that the press blew all out of proportion? —Kevin Drum

I think a better question is doesn't this allow Fitzgerald to question McClellan under oath now, and reconvene a grand jury?

Posted by: JeffII on November 20, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, just a silly mistake, and good for the Republicans.

Posted by: Jim M on November 20, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever happens, it is always good for the Republicans. How true that is.

Let's not forget -- one of the powers of the Unitary Executive is to redefine reality itself, and turn falsehoods into truth.

So if the President told Scott McClellan to go out and say something to the public that was a vicious lie ... then it wasn't a lie. Because the President said so.

Posted by: Bokonon on November 20, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but Border wrote that Dems owe Karl Rove an apology.

AND knowing this, shouldn't Valeria Plame-Wilson have standing to sue the adminisration now?

Posted by: Me_again on November 20, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno about the legal issues, but I kinda doubt that this will have any courtroom consequences.

Still: what exactly could McClellan mean, that he had "unknowingly passed along false information [which he received from] Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself [that] exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby..."???

(Note to the editors who read this: that is NOT an acceptable use of ellipses, but it's accurate.)

The "exoneration" of Rove and Libby, the convicted perjurer, was twofold, IIRC: first, McClellan was instructed to say that they had nothing to do with revealing Plame's name to Novak, and second, that they had not done anything like it, that they had not revealed her name to anybody ELSE, either.

We know the first was true, the second was a lie: right?

So without more information, McClellan's now on record saying that the President personally ordered him to lie to the public about a matter on which the Vice President's chief of staff committed a felony.

According to McClellan, even though HE didn't know it was a lie (because Rove and Libby HAD confirmed Plame by name as a CIA agent to reporters), Bush did.

Or is the out that he's left himself that Bush doesn't know WTF he's doing?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 20, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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