As the blogosphere’s commentary on former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book slows a bit, it seems that amongst conservative bloggers two opinions have developed on the integrity of McClellan’s work. In one camp is the majority of “movement conservatives” that feel this book can be written off as the work of a backstabbing, disgruntled employee who, due to his piteous stature when speaking to the Press Corps, is not worth a second look. A writer over at Red State, commenting on a smiling photo of McClellan with Bush in the eloquently titled “When You Suck at Your Job, Quit and Write a Book Ripping Your Old Boss Who Stuck With You,” writes:
Here we find Scott McClellan shaking hands with the President as he leaves his post back in November 2007. I can’t help but wonder if that smile on his sorry face was hiding thoughts of the book advance he had coming once he signed on to rip his former boss..in the name of a couple bucks and a shot at rewriting his sorry history as Press Secretary.
He was no Ari Fleischer, but Bush stuck with him…until, apparently, he got the book deal. What a scumbag.
Another common attack, this time from Kathryn Jean Lopez on The Corner:
The question: Is he a liar then or now? He should have resigned in protest if he thought Bush was the liar and dolt he claims he was. What a disgrace this kind of book is.
On the other side of the argument sits an admittedly small group of reasonable conservatives–a few of them pro-war–who feel that McClellan’s poor performance in front of the media matters little when considering the fact that he was an arbiter of pro-war propaganda during a most-contentious time in history.
Ramesh Ponnuru partially attempts to defend McClellan with the following:
He should probably have waited a year before publishing his book. But I don’t agree with two of the criticisms of him I’ve been reading today.
Yes, he was an unimpressive press secretary. But I wouldn’t say it quite as dismissively as people are doing. It’s an extremely difficult job, one I certainly wouldn’t be up to.
I also wonder if the people who are now saying that he should have spoken out at the time instead of waiting until he had left office would really have patted him on the back had he taken that advice. Would they really be saying, “Good for him for speaking up now and not waiting for a few years”? Or would they be saying that he was failing to do the job the president had appointed him to do, and that he should speak out on his own time?
Color me unimpressed by both sides. Other than possible revelations about Bush’s cocaine use, McClellan reveals information that is for the most part already widely understood by most Americans. That the administration exaggerated claims about WMDs, ignored intelligence that ran contrary to their ambitions, and was run by a President possessing a dangerous brand of hubris, are all revelations of the past 7 years, not the past 7 hours.
Far be it for me to criticize a man who held a job more difficult than I ever hope to hold, but it is probably correct to say that McClellan’s written words will be looked upon with significantly less importance than his spoken words were when he held his former position. Too bad for him, and for us.