All it took was a quick glance at the news last Wednesday to figure out the day’s top story: former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan surprised many with his admission in his new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, that the Bush administration had lied to the American public in the days leading up to the Iraq War.
But you would have never known this listening to the first 30 minutes of The Sean Hannity Show last Wednesday, where apparently Barack Obama’s relationship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers warranted even more coverage. Like Squeaky Fromme at the Charles Manson hearings, Hannity’s blind loyalty to Bush continues to prevent him from seeing any wrongdoing by the current administration in spite of the evidence that already has been presented — even from members of the president’s inner circle. When a caller finally forced Hannity to comment on the matter, the “great American” implied that McClellan’s revelations were nothing more than a ploy to sell books. Most of Hannity’s talk radio colleagues had similar reactions.
Until the bitter end, these cheerleaders for war continue to shake their poms-poms, rally their fans, and cheer their quarterback Bush, even when the game is clearly over. Now they reflexively consider McClellan a jerk for switching teams. Glaring errors, basic truths, and simple morality seem to matter little to these men. Do they even have consciences?
And it makes you wonder if McClellan just might be clearing his? The former press secretary’s revelations didn’t change, but merely strengthened, what many observers already knew — that the Bush administration’s intentions from 9/11 forward were to use the tragedy as an excuse to invade Iraq.
To this day, many Americans are still under the impression that Saddam Hussein had something to do with al-Qaeda and 9/11 based on what McClellan called Bush’s strategic method of “selling the war” in a way “that was less than candid and honest.”
The excerpts alone from McClellan’s new book are a scathing indictment of a president who might have committed the worst foreign policy mistake in American history. Says McClellan, “History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq War was not necessary.”
Is it possible, as Bush’s defenders claim, that McClellan is indeed lying and that the president has been completely honest on foreign policy? Anything is possible. But educated opinions, by definition, are formed based on experience and the available evidence. On this matter, McClellan is Marcia Clark, and Bush is O.J. Simpson.
And yet Bush’s defenders still insist the glove doesn’t fit. They desperately repeat the mantra that the war in Iraq was “the right thing to do” in the same way a loveless couple keep insisting they love each other, as if mere words could change reality. Repeating that “the surge is working” is no substitute for sanity, and stabilizing a disaster is no justification for continuing a mistake. Yet our current president and his allies believe it is, and John McCain has based his entire campaign on it.
Critics who question why McClellan didn’t speak up sooner need to take a good look at themselves. Too many Republican pundits have proven themselves to be no better than “Baghdad Bob,” the Iraqi buffoon who kept swearing on Iraqi television that Saddam had the Americans on the run during the U.S. invasion, even as Bob’s world caved in around him. How much evidence will men like Hannity have to hear before they start considering the obvious truth?
With his book, McClellan has burned every bridge possible and effectively negated much of his own political career. Why would he do this? Would he do something this drastic simply to sell books? Or had his own complicity in the Bush legacy begun to weigh too heavily upon his mind?
And while the president and his defenders will no doubt continue to consider their former comrade’s revelation an unpardonable sin against their own persistent dogma, it appears Scott McClellan might have just gone to confession.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the “Morning Buzz with Richard Todd” on 1250 AM WTMA.