That’s the title of an article in today’s Independent by Matthew Norman, UK Columnist of the Year.
“Shock and awe envelop Washington upon the publication of a political memoir,” the article begins. “The shock has nothing to do with the contents of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, which do little more than confrim the obvious about the demi-truths, distortions and lies of omission that prefaced the invasion of Iraq. What inspires the awe is that Scott McClellan, the author, was the ultra-loyal press secretary to George Bush.”
Norman continues: “The psychology behind Mr. McClellan’s bean-spilling is the source of much discussion in the States. You can hardly avoid asking why he didn’t mention any of this five years ago, and inevitably he trots out the defence that didn’t quite cut it at Nuremberg. He was only obeying orders, but now this devout Christian (who’d have guessed?) wishes to cleanse his soul of the untruths he obediently spouted about WMD, the betrayal of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and much else besides….”
Of course I wonder what God-fearing Republicans are making of all this, whether they accept that there is truth in the allegation that St. George was, in fact, “an arrogant, self-deceiving fantasist,” or rather take the view of “that indescribably poisonous political puff adder Karl Rove” that McLellan’s motives are malicious and mercenary. One way or another, this is an embarrassing moment for the Religious Right. Perhaps Connexion’s own resident apologist for the Crusade - I mean DH, of course - would care to comment. But I am even more interested in what he - and Joel - think about Matthew Norman’s real interest in the affair, namely the effect it will have on the presidential campaign.
“The real killer for John McCain,” Norman suggests, “is how he distances himself from George W. Bush… Where Mr. McClellan’s book is a potential nightmare for him is in so far as it will pre-empt, netralise and even boomerang his primary line of attack. Unquestionably he will try to petrify the public into electing him, as Mr. Bush did four years ago … But every time Mr. McCain attempts to induce fear by styling his opponent as an Ahmedinijad-hugging ingénue incapable of keeping America safe from her enemies, Senator Obama will counterstrike that it is McCain - greedy swallower of all the phony claims about Iraq described by Scott McClellan - who is the real naïve…
“After Bush, Obama will ask, do you really want a bellicose Beach Boy humming ‘Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran’ as he arranges the family snaps on the Oval Office desk? … Aren’t you just sick of all the scarifying mendacity laid bare in that former press secretary’s book?”
Norman is confident that the McClellan exposé will help to ensure an Obama victory (indeed he predicts a landslide). How do you guys read his reading of the situation?