Friday, May 30, 2008

General McClellan: The Agony of Bush's Chief Propaganda Minister

Thanks to Edge for the heads up on Bob Dole's McClellan smackdown.

I noted previosly McClellan's self-aggrandizing betrayal, but Kimberley Strassel's got an unfiltered review of the book up today at the Wall Street Journal, and this passage is a nugget:

"What Happened" reads as a long, agonizing justification for time spent in what is now an unpopular administration. Just who Mr. McClellan is striving to get absolution from isn't clear, but it is absolution he seeks.
But check out the lead editorial today at WSJ as well, which argues that McClellan's a turncoat for the antiwar left:

Iraq is the reason this book is getting so much political attention. Mr. Obama has staked out a position for immediate troop withdrawal that looks increasingly untenable amid the success of the "surge" and improving security in Baghdad and Basra. John McCain was a key supporter of the surge, so Democrats now want to change the subject and claim the war was a mistake in the first place and sold under false pretenses. Mr. McClellan's confessions fit neatly into this political narrative.

The problem is that Mr. McClellan presents no major new detail to support his conclusions about Iraq, or even about the Administration's deliberations about how to sell the war. This may be because he was the deputy press secretary for domestic issues during the run-up to war and thus rarely attended war strategy sessions. His talking points are merely the well-trod claims that the Administration oversold the evidence about WMD and al Qaeda.

Three independent investigations have looked into these claims, and all of them concluded that political actors did not skew intelligence to sell the war. These include the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2004, the Robb-Silberman report of 2005, and Britain's Butler report. They explain that U.S. – and all Western – intelligence was mistaken but not distorted. Saddam Hussein himself told U.S. interrogators that he kept the fact that he lacked WMD even from many of his own generals.

As for the "propaganda" claim, any U.S. President has no choice but to make his case for going to war. It is an obligation of democracy. In Iraq, the long march to the 2003 invasion included months of debate at the U.N. and in Congress. Far from rushing to war, Mr. Bush heeded Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and sought U.N. approval. That required longer debate and a heavy reliance on WMD claims because the U.N.'s Iraq resolutions were mainly concerned with WMD after the first Gulf War. That too was a mistake, but it wasn't a lie.

Mr. McClellan joins the queue of those who supported the war at first only to turn against it when it became difficult. The polls say most Americans now feel the same way, and that is no surprise: Long wars are rarely popular. But we continue to believe that a Middle East with Saddam ruling Iraq would be more dangerous than it is today. Saddam would again be pursuing WMD, in competition with Iran, and we might never have discovered Libya's nuclear program or unraveled the A.Q. Khan proliferation network. With the success of the surge, Iraq now has a chance to emerge as a stable, pro-American government.
A stable, pro-American government is the last thing the nihilist base of the Democratic Party wants. It's all about victory in November, damn the strategic consequences, and damn the sacrifices of so many Americans to the cause of expanding freedom in the Middle East.


Last-Minute Addition:
Astrological Musings on Scott McClellan:

Scott McClellan (2/14/1968) was born with the Sun conjunct Mercury in Aquarius, the sign of the radical - the revolutionary ... For McClellan, Mars is in Pisces where it tends to lose its aggressive nature and instead submerges in the will of the masses.
That sounds about right: McClellan's abandoned the Bush revolution in foreign affairs to join the revolutionary masses looking for a November overthrow of the regime!

Yo, Attackerman! C'mon bro, let the sun shine in!