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Political Fix by Gloria Penner

Bumped by Scott McClellan

This week, as I was reflecting on Friday's grim news that Tim Russert had died and thinking about how nothing is forever and about how will my mother now spend Sunday mornings at 9 o'clock (she adores Russert and Meet the Press , and unfailingly watches the show), Scott McClellan was about to prove me right. Yes, Scott McClellan, the erstwhile presidential press secretary whose recent book about his experiences in that exalted position causes hives to erupt on Bush loyalists .

It seems that Scott McClellan, in his never-ending book tour to promote the tell-all tale , was scheduled to stop by KPBS for a quick interview with These Days host Tom Fudge , and it further seems that the only slot into which the interview would fit was the one I usually fill for a weekly political chat with Tom. But I'm a team-player and although I had reservations about relinquishing my Wednesday gig, I agreed. After all, nothing is forever!

And now I'm having second thoughts and this isn't sour grapes. I'm thinking about McClellan who worked for President Bush for almost three years and who said to the president upon resigning as press secretary, "I have been honored and grateful to be a small part of a terrific and talented team of really good people." And then he wrote his book accusing Bush of self-deception and of selling the Iraq War with a political propaganda campaign rather than the truth. When did McClellan see the light?


And I'm also wondering when that light does go on during a three-year job with a newsworthy boss, whether it's OK to stay on and gather material for a book that's sure to sell.

Candace Suerstedt from Coronado
June 18, 2008 at 09:26 PM
Gloria, I only wish you had joined Tom and Scott McClellan, so You could have asked him your questions, yourself. I would have liked to ask him about his current place of employment. A Google search reveals that he is employed by HardhatbidInc. HHD seems to have experienced exponential growth in the last five years, adding clients throughout the Middle East and Africa. It would seem that they are greatly benefiting from the Invasion of Iraq. Or maybe McClellan would prefer not to linger on that subject.

June 19, 2008 at 07:04 PM
McClellan's mea culpa doesn't wash with me either. Plenty of people not privy to Oval Office conversations, average citizens, knew McClellan was spouting administration lies. Ironically, I believe the Bush administration's claim that McClellan is a disgruntled employee. We wouldn't be hearing from him if Andrew Card hadn't bumped him from the trusted inner circle. I would have liked to hear Gloria or Tom ask McClellan how he views himself in comparison to Saddam's propoganda mouthpiece - Tariq Aziz - now facing trial for war crimes.

michael valentine from spring Valley
June 21, 2008 at 04:10 AM
No one has disputed what is in the book. Nor did the book breach new grounds that hadn't been reported or speculated about. What the book did was to lay bare the inner workings of a corrupt administration bent on an immoral and unjustified preemptive war on Iraq prior to 9/11. That the war had been settled on before 9/11 had already been reported in the book the "Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suspend. Why are people more upset over the fact that he wrote the book then the damning information it contains. The war was sold to the American people as propaganda. The war was propagandized to the American people by the Pentagon in violation of the law. The war with Iraq was conceptualized long before the WTC, for whatever reason, fell into the ground.


Bradley Wayne from Chestnut Hill
June 23, 2008 at 05:43 PM
Gloria- I am in total agreement with you. When did he see the light? Does it not speak to his charachter that the light most likely went on when he was approached by an agent and a sweetheart book deal? It is unfortunate that a journalist of your stature could not have called the gentleman out on this point. More Americans should step up with their honest point of view (at the time they have it)! (or did he?)

Matthew C. Scallon
June 23, 2008 at 08:04 PM
I operate on the Pete Rose rule: never trust the intentions of someone on a book tour. If he had any of these misgivings (and certainly, by the number of resignations, he wasn't the only one), he could have: 1) spoken truth to power the moment he saw something was wrong, 2) become Deep Throat and leaked information to the Washington Post, or 3) resigned in disgust and called that same Washington Post. He did none of these things. He's just another hack, and, unfortunately, NPR and KPBS are playing along. Now, if you could talk to Colin Powell about the War, I'd pay for that.

Gloria Penner from KPBS
June 24, 2008 at 06:19 PM
To Matthew and Bradley, I would have absolutely asked him when he saw the light. But, unfortunately, I am not always in control of my assignments and thus didn't have the opportunity to interview Mr. McClellan. The question of when did those misgivings begin and why he didn't act on them would have been central to my interview. But, as in horse-racing, "woulda, shoulda" doesn't count, does it? Gloria

michael valentine from spring Valley
June 24, 2008 at 08:07 PM
I am baffled over the outrage at the writing of the book rather then the content of the book. As if Mr. McCellan owed Bush more loyalty then the owed the United States of America. Where is the outrage over the outing of an undercover CIA operative and the cover company she worked on? Where is the outrage over the lack of intelligence on Iran's nuke program .... the very issue that Valerie Plaim was working on. The Bush Administration played politics with our national security and people are upset with Scott McCellan for pointing it out? Where are your priorities people?

Matthew C. Scallon
June 24, 2008 at 10:48 PM
@michael valentine, my priorities involve not calling someone names only to cry on my blog that the person whom I called names was "abusive" to me, like someone's myspace had not that long ago. My priorities include actually reading someone's comments before commenting on them myself. My priority is not to troll around. Maybe you can try it sometime.

Matthew C. Scallon
June 24, 2008 at 10:57 PM
@Gloria Penner, that's a good question about when did his Damascus road conversion take place, but I don't believe that you would get a straight answer from him. As I said, he's on a book tour. You would have been the hundredth reporter to ask him that same question, and, if he truly is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, he's rehearsed enough to fake it. And, then again, maybe everything in his book is true. The first casuality of a book tour is sincerity.

michael valentine from spring Valley
June 25, 2008 at 12:04 AM
Matthew, are you unbalanced?

Leng Caloh
June 25, 2008 at 12:31 AM
This is a(nother) friendly reminder that we need to avoid personal attacks when commenting on KPBS blogs. You agreed to this when you clicked on "I agree to the KPBS Blog User Agreement and Guidelines." I quote: "KPBS Online expects users to be civil and courteous even when in disagreement. Personal attacks...will not be permitted. Such conduct will result in users being banned from future participation." Thanks.

Matthew C. Scallon
June 25, 2008 at 09:53 PM
@Leng Caloh, well put.

Greg Duch from Gaslamp Quarter
June 27, 2008 at 11:52 PM
Do persons serving in government have an obligation to the public to maintain the same beliefs, attitudes, and values forever and a day? Such a conviction served to prolong the Viet Nam War, the Watergate Constitutional Assault; and is now the rationale behind "staying the course" for over six years! The process of learning from one's mistakes involves changing one's attitudes AND behavior. Pride, intransigence, and Ignorance are anathema to making wise decisions. Those who rigidly adhere to an inflexible, dogmatic view of the world, whose minds are cemented shut by ideology, perpetuate their mistakes at great cost to those they govern. A closed mind becomes an empty mind. Greg-