McClellan and the DiscussionFormer White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book is creating waves in the press and among liberal Democrats-and certainly among both Democratic presidential candidates-but this morning I've taken the time to read an excerpt from McClellan's work. In it, we find that Scott McClellan feels the same way about the Bush Presidency that many conservatives do:
...Let me observe that much of what the general public knows about Bush is
true. He is a man of personal charm, wit, and enormous political skill. Like
many other people, I was inspired to follow him by his disarming personality and
by his record as a popular, bipartisan governor who set a constructive tone and
got things done for the people. We all hoped and believed he could do the same
for the nation.
Certainly the seeds of greatness seemed to be present in the Bush
administration. Although Bush attained the White House only after an extended
legal battle over the outcome of the 2000 election, he began his presidency with
considerable goodwill. He commanded a rare, extended period of national unity
following the unimaginable national tragedy that struck our nation in September
I believed in George W. Bush’s leadership and agenda for America, and had
confidence in his authenticity, integrity, and judgment. But today the high
hopes that accompanied the early days of his presidency have fallen back to
Although my time in the Bush White House did not work out as I once hoped,
my optimism regarding America has been strengthened. I’ve met many, many people who are eager for positive change and are ready to devote their lives and
energies to the future of our country. I still believe, in the words of
then-Governor Bush, that it’s possible to show “that politics, after a time of
tarnished ideals, can be higher and better.” I’m convinced that, if we take a
clear-eyed look at how our system has gone awry and think seriously about how to
ﬁx it, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
Many Administration partisans are now attempting to say that Scott McClellan has an agenda of his own. Karl Rove has said that McClellan sounds like a left-wing blogger. I've only read a tiny portion of McClellan's book, but whatever may (or may not) have changed in McClellan's political views as a result of his White House experience, I do not believe McClellan is a liberal or is somehow out to do the bidding of the Left, or undermine the Republican Party in an election year (as some have accused him). I don't necessarily agree with McClellan's apparent notion that the partisanship we are seeing is a function solely of Washington (I think it is a function of a deeper cultural divide in our country that is reflected in the national political map and makeup), but I do think McClellan is as upset with the direction that this Administration has taken as many of us are-and we can't lie and say that it is all fine with us.
In 2000, many of us who voted for the President did so because he promised to pursue a domestic agenda in which many of us passionately believed. While it is quite understandable that the events of September 11, 2001 should have pushed the nation to war, we were primed for a fight in Afghanistan-a fight that has since taken second-fiddle to Iraq and has suffered as a result. The domestic agenda the President promised has largely fallen by the wayside along with the fight in Afghanistan.
How will McClellan's book impact the Republican Presidential campaign? Not as much, perhaps, as Democrats might like. John McCain has already distanced himself from policies such as warrantless wiretapping and other constitutionally questionable practices (a good thing-I despise the PATRIOT Act on purely constitutional grounds, and I think those conservatives who support it are being very short-sighted, since they easily forget that our political opponents would likely have no trouble using its provisions against us).
In years to come, conservatives will have to deal directly amongst themselves with the failures of this Administration and why they happened if our movement is to advance in the years ahead. Scott McClellan has merely decided, it would seem, that the time has come to start the discussion.