When Karl Rove went on Fox and suggested former White House press secretary Scott McClellan sounded like a left-wing blogger in his book, he was hardly alone. Reporter Mike Allen of the Politico completely endorsed that view on a giddy Wednesday night "special edition"of MSNBC’s "Hardball" exploiting the McClellan book, even though he thought the valiant David Gregory yelling at a series of press secretaries proved them wrong. MRC’s Geoff Dickens sent me the transcript:
MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO: The other great power of this book is that it validates, as David [Gregory] said, these criticisms that have come from the liberal and left wing bloggers.
ALLEN: Most especially his point that the White House press corps was too deferential to this administration. David and I have fought back about those charges over the years. Largely because of the work of people like David Gregory it just wasn’t true. But now the left can say, "Even Scott McClellan says you guys were too easy on the Bushies."
MATTHEWS: Well let’s go right--
DAVID GREGORY: Yeah...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead David.
GREGORY: ...I mean this notion that somehow we were, we were too easy on him or in the run up to war, I mean it just doesn’t jibe with the kinds of things he was saying at the time--
GREGORY: –or, or, or, you know, it’s the idea that he’s, you know, was on a, a completely different plane during that whole time when you got, you got no sense of it. I think that’s a separate discussion but I don’t think that’s a, that’s a credible charge.
Matthews began the show with a long, enthusiastic summary of how much McClellan is endorsing the Chris Matthews viewpoint of the war in Iraq and the lying weals of the Bush team:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Finally the whole dishonest case for war in Iraq and the Cheney-led cover-up. Can we handle the truth? Let’s play Hardball! Good evening, I’m Chris Matthews. Welcome to a "Hardball" special report, the selling of a war and the attack on its critics.
When I first heard the disclosures in Scott McClellan's new book, I thought of the scene in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," when that corrupt senior senator runs on to the Senate floor yelling, "Everything he says is true!" For months and years now, "Hardball" told the two-part story of how the Iraq war was sold under the false pretense that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear threat to the United States and that people in the Bush administration sought to destroy those who unmasked the plotting.
Here is Scott McClellan writing in, What Happened about Bush's quote, "Lack of candor and honesty in selling the Iraq war." Quote: "What drove Bush toward military confrontation more than anything else was an ambitious and idealistic post 9/11 vision of transforming the Middle East through the spread of freedom. This view was grounded in a philosophy of," catch this phrase, "coercive democracy." A belief that Iraq was ripe for conversion from a dictatorship into a beacon of liberty through the use of force. And a conviction that this could be achieved at nominal cost." McClellan said Bush and his neoconservative supporters in and out of the administration downplayed this motive and instead emphasized the threat of WMD and the possible link between Iraq and terrorism.
Quote, "The decision to downplay the democratic vision as a motive for war was basically a marketing choice. Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitious purpose of transforming the Middle East."
Quote: "Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were evidently pursuing their own agendas. President Bush," however, "bears ultimate responsibility for the invasion of Iraq. He made the decision to invade and he signed off on a strategy for selling the war that was less than candid and honest."
Having described how the Bush administration sold the Iraq war on a dishonest basis, that Iraq posed a nuclear threat to the U.S., Scott McClellan describes how the administration then acted to protect the dishonest argument. He tells how top White House officials including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby leaked the CIA role of Joe Wilson’s wife Valerie, then how both men denied their action to his face, that’s Scott McClellan’s face, allowing him to tell that lie to the press and the public.
McClellan writes that the worst aspect of the whole story was the failure of the press to see through to the real horror of the Iraq war and the CIA leak case. So that’s the real horror exposed by Scott McClellan in the new book today. That an American aversion to foreign entanglements, passed down from George Washington himself, was so easily and tragically overturned by George W. Bush.
Later in the show, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman pleased Matthews by explaining how the McClellan book will help Obama against McCain, even though McClellan has no real connection to McCain. It undercuts McCain’s attack on Obama’s lack of foreign-policy experience:
Obama can answer back, as he did yesterday and today, "Hey don’t lecture me about foreign policy experience and defense experience. You were sold this war and you bought it hook, line and sinker on propagandist, misleading arguments." And that’s exactly what, that’s exactly what Obama is saying.