Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scott McClellan's Script Tease

Say this much for Dana Perino: She may not be the most scintillating White House press secretary in history but, after writing her memoirs, she won't be performing the verbal strip tease Scott McClellan did this week to get attention for his.

Earlier in this slow news week, his publisher posted 121 words from McClellan's oevre that won't be available until next April:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the Vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself."

Most journalists (silly people) took this to mean that George W. Bush was "involved" in lies about Rove and Libby to the press.

But after getting attention with this admission, McClellan's publisher now tells us it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is. Peter Osnos of Public Affairs Books explains that his author "did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him" but told him what "he thought to be the case" and "didn't know it was not true."

Oh. Sounds a lot like the kind of work McClellan used to do from behind the White House podium.

The history of the Bush Administration's downfall can be traced in the arc of attractiveness of its spokespeople. When they were riding high, the media were held at bay by boring dough-faced types like McClellan and Ari Fleischer. Later, when the going got tough, they were replaced by the smoother and better-looking Tony Snow and Perino.

At this rate, Bush and Cheney should scouring Hollywood casting officers for a communications closer.

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