I'm a little shocked that a ex-Bush employee would slam his former boss as brutally as Scott McClellan does in his book coming out June 1st. This isn't typical from a President who surrounds himself with loyal followers, is it?
McClellan draws a portrait of his former boss as smart, charming and politically skilled, but unwilling to admit mistakes and susceptible to his own spin. Bush "convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment," McClellan writes.... He also faults Bush for a "lack of inquisitiveness."
Some of my friends rail on Bush as ineffably stupid, even mentally unbalanced, but I feel that's disingenuous. Bush purposefully affects a folksy speech style more appealing to the common folk, which hints at a sensibility to the political landscape beyond the reach of your average nimwit:
[Kent] Hance's opponent in the general election [in 1978] was a young Republican businessman from Midland, George W. Bush. Hance portrayed Bush as "not a real Texan" because of his privileged upbringing and Yale education. Hance later said in an interview that after that election, Bush vowed that "he wasn't going to be out-Christianed or out-good-old-boyed again,"and developed the folksy image that eventually carried him to the White House. Hance is the only person ever to have defeated George W. Bush in an election. Link.
So Bush isn't just any dumb politician... he knows how to get elected into the White House, and that in itself ought to be the ultimate benchmark for not being be dumb or mentally unbalanced.
However, one can still have savvy in some areas and be remarkably wooden-headed in others. I speak specifically, of being open to new ideas... an area in which Bush seems deficient to a catastrophic degree, as the war in Iraq has proven.
I value those who stand by their ideas and "stay the course", but only if the data exists to justify their plan. If new ideas come along, better ideas, one would be silly to not examine them. And that's the most severe drawback to a "lack of inquisitiveness" and being "unwilling to accept your own mistakes"—you cannot adapt as circumstances change. It's fine and patriotic to back up your leader because he's your leader, but how far into a burning building are you willing to go before you question, and even refute, your leader's ability to see the surroundings as what they are?
Bush's legacy will be centered around that one foible: not seeing the world as it is, and being unwilling to admit he could be wrong about it. If there's one lesson I've learned, it's that we all need to be humble in the world, to examine all the data, to voraciously suck up as much information as possible before making any decisions, and be willing to change those decisions if credible contradictory data emerges... too many things are changing too quickly nowadays and deciding things will only be one way, forever, is a questionable strategy... and even a dangerous strategy for some.
This last bit by McClellan also caught my eye:
Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan ... "blames the media whose questions he fielded, calling them complicit enablers' in the White House campaign to manipulate public opinion toward the need for war."
To me, this is a perfect example of why liberal bias in the media is a conservative claptrap. To claim the media has such a liberal bias implies they'd be hypercritical of the Bush presidency, but then how could the "liberal" media have been enablers, too? You can't have it both ways.
Full article below:
Former press secretary's book bashes Bush
WASHINGTON - Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that President Bush relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war, it has been reported.
The Bush White House made "a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed" — a time when the nation was on the brink of war, McClellan writes in the book entitled "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."
The way Bush managed the Iraq issue "almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option," the book contends, according to accounts Wednesday in The New York Times and Washington Post.
"In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage," McClellan writes.
The White House had no immediate comment on the book.
In a surprisingly harsh assessment from the man who was at that time the loyal public voice of the White House, McClellan called the Iraq war a "serious strategic blunder."
"The Iraq war was not necessary," he concludes.
McClellan admits that some of his own words from the podium in the White House briefing room turned out to be "badly misguided." But he says he was sincere at the time.
"I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be," McClellan writes. He also blames the media whose questions he fielded, calling them "complicit enablers" in the White House campaign to manipulate public opinion toward the need for war.
The book is scheduled to go on sale June 1. Quotes from the book were reported Tuesday night by the Web site Politico, which said it found McClellan's memoir on sale early at a bookstore.
McClellan draws a portrait of his former boss as smart, charming and politically skilled, but unwilling to admit mistakes and susceptible to his own spin. Bush "convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment," McClellan writes.
He also faults Bush for a "lack of inquisitiveness." Link.