Backtrack Boogie: McClellan on Bush Lies

It’s all beginning to look like a publicity stunt, isn’t it? First, in the only published excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan seems to state fairly clearly that Bush – along with Rove, Libby, Andy Card, and, of course, Darth Cheney – lied to him about there being WMDs in Iraq. No particular surprise there for anyone not of the Flying Monkey Brigade. But then Bloomberg News reports that WH Press Sec Dana Perino is going around saying she’s spoken to Scotty and that

the president “has not and would not ask anyone to pass on false information.” She directed reporters to call McClellan, saying he believes the excerpts were taken “out of context.”

“Out of context”. That’s a good one. Even better is the word “believes”. I mean, theoretically, the guy wrote the fucking book. Doesn’t he know what it says?
So Bloomberg reporter Holly Rosencrantz tries to get hold of McClellan for a response but Scotty isn’t answering his phone. She talks instead to his publisher, Peter Osnos, who offers this gem straight from the old McClellan “Stonewalling By Obfuscation” playbook, a statement relayed second-hand that puzzles Salon’s Joe Conason.

“[Bush] told him something that wasn’t true, but the president didn’t know it wasn’t true,” said Osnos. “The president told him what he thought to be the case.” How McClellan knows what Bush knew at that time — let alone how Osnos knows — remains to be explained. (Perhaps the former press secretary would speak more clearly and less cutely under oath, as his predecessor did in the Plame grand jury.)

Don’t bet on it.

Makes you come over all nostalgic for the good ol’ days when Scotty stood before the press every morning spouting endless complex sentences that made no sense, never went anywhere, and didn’t answer a damn thing. Sort of like a graduate school student faking his oral in front of an unfriendly board of examiners.

More interesting, to me, is the possibility that, as far as the book goes, that’s it. That’s the lot. On Tuesday, when the story broke, Keith Olberman interviewed regular Countdown commentator John Dean, and Dean allowed as how he knows Osnos and spoke to him. Osnos hinted that McClellan’s “tell-all” may actually tell nothing – that there is no further explanation of the excerpt and no other revelations, spectacular or otherwise. Like any other intelligent publisher with a dud on his hands, he has leaked the only interesting part to jump-start sales.

If true, that sort of renders this 3-graf lit-bomb into the only reason anybody would want to shell out $30 for the book. $10/graf. Not bad as sales tactics go. If it works.

Unfortunately, with the Bush Admin pressuring Scotty to back off, even those 3 grafs may not survive the final galleys. One expects to read instead some wandering, monotonous compilation of excuses that can be interpreted several different ways and which will wind up getting Dear Leader off the hook. Again. That is, after all, what McClellan does.

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