Bloggers on Scott McClellan's tell-all memoir.

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May 28 2008 3:50 PM

Scott Free

Bloggers are reacting to former Bushie Scott McClellan's scathing new book and wondering if former-U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will really be subjected to a citizen's arrest in the United Kingdom.

Scott free: Politico has excerpted former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new memoir, What Happened. And what happened is that McClellan went from Bush loyalist to fire-breathing critic. Among the many charges McClellan levels at the administration are its use of propaganda to coax the country into war in Iraq, its deceptions about the Plame affair, and its "state of denial" after Hurricane Katrina.  

At the Tribune Co.'s Swamp, Mark Silva isn't surprised: "Of course, this is the McClellan who had to stand at the press podium of the West Wing and assert that Rove, the president's former deputy chief of staff, had no knowledge of the leaking of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press after her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to make its case for the invasion of Iraq. Seems like suitable cause for resentment."

Not all liberals are ready to embrace McClellan's new attitude toward the Bush administration. Bill at Daily Kos writes: "Once again, we come face to face with a White House official who could've done the right thing ... but instead decided that the lives of American troops, Iraqi civilians, Katrina victims, and a network of covert CIA operatives were worth less than the luster of his master's lapel pin. When our country needed him to tell it straight, he hid behind propaganda and spin and bogus talking points and outright bamboozlement." David Corn at CQPolitics has an idea for McClellan: "If he were truly contrite about his involvement in a deceptive, propaganda-wielding administration, McClellan could demonstrate his sincerity by pledging that all profits from his belated truth-telling will go to charities supporting the families of American soldiers killed or injured in Iraq." And Jason Zengerle at the New Republic's Plank writes: "So kudos to McClellan. His book displays a calculating mind that was never much in evidence in the White House press room."

Zengerle proves a point made by the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, who claims a dim bulb has written a seedy tell-all: "Ask fifty Washington reporters for an assessment of Scott McClellan and forty-nine of them will give you some version of this: He's a nice guy who was in way over his head. (Most of them will be tougher in their analysis of his intellect.)" 

Conservatives (well, except for Andrew Sullivan) are predictably unimpressed. James Joyner at Outside the Beltway writes  that McClellan "was a Bush confidante, dutifully passed on the administration's talking points, and participated in all the things he's now saying were so awful. So he was either lying to us then or he's lying to us now. Why should we take him at his word? Either a man has integrity or he doesn't." Jules Crittenden says: "There's always a demand for a professional liar. There's always a demand for professional saps who will swallow and spit up whatever you want. The thing is, you want your hired gun to stay bought."

And Seth Liebsohn at National Review Online's Corner sighs: "I think this genre of book is losing its cachet, and people are getting a little tired of the game which goes something like this: Get a high-level job, make your name and reputation, do an average job at it, then write a book after you leave that helps nobody but bolsters your own reputation at the expense of those without book contracts. It's one of the uglier things in Washington, and as I say, I think its days will soon be over. People are tired of it."

A passage about the media's acquiescence to the Bush war plan for Iraq should "forever slay the single most ludicrous myth in our political culture: The 'Liberal Media,'" according to lefty Glenn Greenwald.

Could it be just business? FishbowlDC is "sure that McClellan means what he says, but lots of Washingtonians think poorly of their successors but bite their tongue and play the role of a good soldier. So why didn't McClellan do this? Simple: Speaking out against the Bush administration in such harsh tones is simply a smart career move by McClellan."

Read more about McClellan's tell all.

Put 'em up, John: George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian, has called former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton a "war criminal," and planned to stage a "citizen's arrest" when both men are at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival on Wednesday in Wales. (Read his comprehensive list of charges against Bolton here.) Color bloggers skeptical.

Lawhawk at A Blog For All offers a pointed history lesson and adds: "The same people who bray about the US failing to intervene in Darfur and Burma want to see President Bush and other Administration officials hauled up on war crimes charges on Iraq, even though they took down a regime that engaged in the same kind of ethnic cleansing and genocidal activities that they see in Burma and Darfur.""

While Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones'Mojo Blog is more sympathetic to Monbiot's would-be lit-festival collar: "Considering John Bolton thinks attacking Iran is America's 'most prudent' foreign policy option at the moment, it might make sense for somebody to detain him before he (har har!) strikes again. Okay, maybe that isn't funny."

Norman Geras responds in earnest to Monbiot's plaint: "Hasn't George been rather remiss in the matter of arrests up to now? I'm not suggesting that he, personally, should have to make all the arrests that are needed because of the putatively illegal war, but he might have essayed at least one or two before Bolton's visit to Hay. Any member of Tony Blair's 'war criminal' cabinet would have done. It's puzzling why Monbiot should have been so tardy about this."

Rick Moran at  American Thinker fumes: "Moonbat's barely concealed call for an assault of some kind on Bolton won't get him into trouble if only because he won't be in the thick of any scrum between the bobbies and the citizens who try to carry out his wacky scheme. He will be too busy composing a column bragging how close he came to bringing Bolton to justice." And Brit blogger Gary Bowman of Fresh Green Beast concludes: "Talk about shameless grandstanding. Monbiot is like the Paris Hilton of politics -- if he weren't so loathsome, I'd probably feel sorry for him."

Read more about Monbiot's planned citizen's arrest of Bolton.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.

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