Bush lies on Iraq: disinformation, propaganda and manipulation
“Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush ‘veered terribly off course,’ was not ‘open and forthright on Iraq,’ and took a ‘permanent campaign approach’ to governing at the expense of candor and competence,” The Politico reports. (The story is also posted here.)
Politico adds that:
The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.
McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.
Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.
The New York Times adds that McClellan writes about Bush that the president “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,” and has engaged in “self-deception” to justify his political ends.
The Washington Post leads its story with this: “Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in What Happened that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated ‘political propaganda campaign’ led by President Bush and aimed at ‘manipulating sources of public opinion’ and ‘downplaying the major reason for going to war.’ ”
The White House would not comment on-the-record to the Post. On Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes last night, former White House political czar Karl Rove said that McClellan had been out of the loop on many matters and never expressed his concerns while working for the administration. Rove is one of two top White House aides who McClellan writes may have misled him about their roles in the “outing” of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson.
Update at 8:13 a.m. ET: A former Bush administration official tells CNN that McClellan’s claims are “self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional.”
“People need to understand that as an adviser to the president, I or Scott have an obligation, a responsibility, to voice concerns on policy issues,” Frances Fragos Townsend says. “Scott never did that on any of these issues, as best I can remember, and as best I know from my White House colleagues.”
Update at 8:20 a.m. ET: Rumors of cocaine use dogged Bush during the run-up to the 2000 election, prompting the Texas governor to tell a supporter that he couldn’t remember whether or not he had taken the illegal drug, according to McClellan’s book.
Update at 8:29 a.m. ET: Karl Rove, now working for Fox News, says his former colleague was “out of the loop.” Rove denies discussing the Plame matter with Scooter Libby.
Update at 10:19 a.m. ET: Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary, tells Fox News that the book is “heartbreaking.”
(File photo taken in 2004 by Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP.)