I started this post by writing about how when you work for somebody else, you represent their interests and not your own. And this is the case whether you're on the Whitehouse staff or working the drive-thru window at Jack in the Box. And it was all about how Scott McClellan shouldn't be blamed for not having told the truth while he worked for the Bush Whitehouse, because that's just not what he was hired to do.
But then I thought "screw it" because it was already getting too long, so I deleted what I wrote and will now just reprint a few comments I wrote at Carpetbagger's about it, because I really have better things to do today than write an opus on Scott McClellan.
Why It's Ok That McClellan Didn't Say Something Sooner
I actually disagree with the idea that McClellan should have said something when he still worked for the Whitehouse. Because when you’re hired for a job, you’re not speaking for yourself. You’re speaking for your boss. And if you don’t like what that boss has you say and he makes you say it anyway, you only have one choice: Resign. That’s it. But no matter what, you don’t get to use the position they gave you as a podium to state your own personal opinion. When a Press Secretary speaks, he’s only speaking for his boss; not himself.
And if more people had had this attitude about the Bushies, we would have been better off. Because when people like Colin Powell hyped WMD’s and the need for war, they weren’t doing so from their personal opinions. They did so as part of their jobs. And if the corporate media had understood this, rather than assuming that Powell was personally agreeing with the war, they would have been less likely to agree with going through with it. Same goes for Richard Clarke, who told lies to reporters when it was his job, and exposed it all after he quit. That’s how it’s supposed to work. None of this is personal and an employee’s integrity is ultimately only as good as his bosses. And if you don’t like your bosses integrity, there’s always the door.
In fact, that’s really one of the weird things about the pundit class. For as much as they act as if this is all academic and that you shouldn’t get too passionate about this stuff, for them, politics is all personal. It’s about the assurances that Whitehouse insiders give them, without realizing that those assurances were made as part of their job. When “Senior Whitehouse Officials” or Retired Generals tell them something, they do so for business reasons; not personal. If only the media understood that these insiders were simply making a business transaction, rather than imagining that they were getting personal assurances from their friends, we’d be much better off. But unfortunately for us, most folks in the media want little more than to be loved; and Republicans have taken advantage of that for years.
On whether Scott's Tell-All is Important
I think the people being harsh against McClellan for telling us what we already knew are missing the point: While WE already know this stuff, lots of other people don’t. Particularly not the corporate media, which still has some respect for the Bushies. If anything comes from this book, I’m hoping that it’s that the media realizes that what us dirty hippies have been saying for years about the Bushies is absolutely true, and that they got duped by people they imagined were their friends.
Again, it’s one thing to have put together the pieces or to hear dirty hippies say this stuff. It’s something else to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. I don’t have high hopes that the media will finally internalize how corrupt the Bushies really are, but this definitely makes it harder for them to ignore it.
Why We Shouldn't Expect More of This From Other Bushies
It's totally unlikely that other Bushies like Tony Snow will also dish-out these sort of tales. McClellan was different from the rest of them: He was actually human. And this is one reason he was a HORRIBLE press secretary. While Ari was a cruel robot who could explain in a thousand different ways why he wouldn’t answer any questions and Snow was a mocking anchorman who truly enjoyed duping reporters, McClellan always seemed to actually struggle to answer the questions. And because there were no good answers to give, he came off real shitty. And I think that’s one reason why he’s telling all, because he really wanted to give the right answers and felt betrayed by the Bushies; which makes it acceptable to him for him to betray them.
I’m quite positive that they picked him because he had been with them for so long and didn’t feel they could trust an outsider, but he was a really poor choice. Of all the press secretaries, he was the only one I felt sorry for, even while I laughed at his poor performance. And so it’s no surprise that he’s the guy who would tell-all in a book. He was much too human for the job, and continues to act like a human. That’s not to say he’s not also a douchebag, as he totally is. But he’s a human douchebag, and that’s made all the difference.