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What the %$#@ Happened?

Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary f...

Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush (in office 2003–06). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Copyright © 2008 by B. F. Price. All rights reserved.

By now Scott McClellan‘s book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception has hit the stores, but the media and political Sturm und Drang arrived a week earlier. The book makes the case that the rationale for the Iraq War was a manufactured lie — and the “useful idiots,” like McClellan, Colin Powell, and the “liberal” media, shouldn’t have believed the lies. The evidence for it being a lie is overwhelming: Iraq, and Hussein, were no threat to the U.S. — until we made them one by invading their country, destroying their government, economy, roads, schools and oilfields, and killing thousands upon thousands of men, women and children. Enough to piss anybody off.

There were many lies, but they fall into two main categories. They were lies when the administration and their toadies uttered them and we’ve known it for a few years now. They are:

CHARGE: Iraq has “weapons of mass destruction,” including a nucular bomb, and want desperately to use these terrible weapons against us.

FACT: While it is an undisputable fact that Hussein once had biological and chemical weapons — they used them in the Iran-Iraq war, plus Reagan/Bush 41 gave Iraq the weapons — Iraq had no nuclear weapons, indeed had no capacity to manufacture any weapons. All weaponry Iraq used in their war was manufactured by the U.S., “purchased” with our tax dollars, and shipped to Iraq with the blessing of our military. But even today, with the U.S.-Iraq war in its 5th year, all the weapons used in Iraq are imported. They don’t even make their own guns. Furthermore, the weapons Reagan/Bush 41 gave Iraq were either used in the Iran-Iraq war or dismantled and removed from the country, as certified by our weapons inspectors before Bush 43 became President.

To summarize, there is no evidence Iraq had ever planned to make a nuclear bomb. As of today, the only Near Eastern counries in possession of nuclear weapons are Pakistan and Israel.

CHARGE: Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, is evil incarnate. He killed his own people and wouldn’t hesitate to kill us. After all, he was involved in 9/11.

FACT: What leader hasn’t killed his own people? They seem to consider killing their own people one of the perks of the job. George W. Bush has cheerfully and willingly killed his own people — us — with lavish and indiscriminate application of the death penalty and war, and 27% of us treat him like a hero!

Although Saddam Hussein killed his own people, he didn’t kill us Americans even when cornered; instead, he meekly surrendered. He was not at all involved in 9/11 (nor were any Iraqis) and was never a threat to the U.S. If he had been, that threat surely ended when his life did. The Iraqi people didn’t want to kill us until we invaded their country and started killing them — the second time. Then they began shooting back. With guns and conventional bombs — nothing fancy or exotic, just standard, NRA-approved weaponry.

So if the book didn’t reveal any new lies, only “banality” from a man “who comes off like another famous American victim of Stockholm Syndrome, Patty Hearst,” (how’s that for an inadvertent admission from the bent-right?) why is the Bush White House so upset?

Because they plan to use the same lies to drum up support for their new Biggest Evilest Enemy (BEE), Iran. Because Iran has weapons of mass destruction, and their leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is evil incarnate!

No wonder the Bushies feel betrayed! So what can the apologists of the right do or say? First, they can blame the messenger, and so they pile on McClellan.

Unable to reveal the real reason for their anger, their main response has been that they are “puzzled” at McClellan’s book, and — despite having received a copy beforehand — they only actually read the book when reporters began asking them questions about it.

This is no surprise. It’s classic “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.“-level incuriosity, without the Bin Laden-level consequences. Their “puzzlement” exposes their chief vulnerability: they can’t “see” a problem when it’s handed to them in written form. It’s called aliteracy — the unwillingness to read — as opposed to illiteracy — the inability to read; and the entire administration, it seems, is aliterate.

It’s the same sort of aliterate-level incuriosity the mainstream media displayed when spoon-fed Bush-league lies in the run-up to the Iraq War. No wonder they like the Bush administration: They’ve spent the last 7+ years being stenographers/teleprompter readers instead of journalists! The “liberal” media doesn’t want to go back to working for their paycheck, so they repeat the “conventional wisdom” about Scott McClellan ands his book that the neocon truth-manipulators spoon-feed them.

For example, the Wall Street Republicans pretend to be disgusted that McClellan will make money off the book — we know how much they hate profiting off misery! — and many in the MSM pretend to be disgusted too. But an AP story on the marketing of the book refutes the claim that McClellan only wanted to “cash in.” The book “does not fit the pattern of Washington megadeals.” It certainly didn’t qualify for the Regnery Press treatment (workfare for neocons), and mainstream publishers say they rejected the proposal unread on the marketing “wisdom” that such books don’t make money.

How much money did Scott actually make? “According to an official with knowledge of McClellan’s contract — who spoke on condition of anonymity citing the confidentiality of the pact — McClellan received only $75,000” from publisher PublicAffairs. Why did PublicAffairs agree to publish the book? “After having what we thought was a good conversation with Scott, in which it became clear that he understood who we were (not corporate, politically independent), we called reporters who had covered the White House and Texas politics. All said the same thing about Scott: he had a very difficult hand, was often awkward on the podium, but was fundamentally a straight and decent person who would write an honest book.”

But the most hypocritical response has been to pretend to be hurt by McClellan’s “betrayal”: Scott McClellan should have said something while he was working for the Bushites. To quit, then talk, is “dishonest.” But what should McClellan have said? Imagine how that conversation would go:

McClellan: I just discovered you lied about Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.

Bush: I know.

Cheney: So?

Rumsfeld: If he’d had real weapons of mass destruction, do you think invading would have been a cakewalk?

Rove: We didn’t win in Florida either!

Professional messenger-blamer Peggy Noonan tried to claim nonpartisanship by asserting that McClellan’s book has made him a pariah of both left and right: “I want to quote his defenders, but he doesn’t have any…. The left, while embracing the book’s central assertions, will paint him as a weasel who belatedly ‘fessed up. They’re big on omertà on the left. It’s part of how they survive.” Yes — it’s the LEFT who embraces Mafia values. It’s the LEFT who hates McClellan for having “betrayed” (one of her gentler descriptors) Bush and Company.

Is that how the real left really responded? Jeff Cohen didn’t: “This is a glorious moment for the American public. We can finally see those who abandoned reporting for cheerleading and flag-waving and cheap ratings having to squirm over their role in sending other parents’ kids into Iraq. I say ‘other parents’ kids’ because I never met any bigwig among those I worked with in TV news who had kids in the armed forces.”

The faux-left did pile on McClellan as Noonan asked them to, but not all members of the “liberal” media can claim to have shared McClellan’s ignorance at the Iraq War lies. There were several active, eager, even willing spear-carriers like Matt “They Made Me Testify” Cooper, Judith “I Can’t Read My Notes” Miller, and Robert “Not Technically A Criminal” Novak. They certainly weren’t innocent, even if they have perfected the art of innocent outrage.

So we can read the book and make up our own mind about what Scott knew or should have known, when he knew or should have known it, and who else knew or didn’t know it too. But will we read it for ourselves — or will we let the media tell us what the %$#@ happened?


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