Have you read the latest soul-searching, first-person apostasy by a once aggressive attack dog-turned-critic of the regime? No, not last week’s New York Times Magazine cover story: We’re talking about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. It has barely been released, yet it’s become a flashpoint for the Bush administration and its friends as well as members of what one administration official once dismissively dubbed "the reality-based community." (66 percent of Americans according to a May 11th poll.)
Mr. McClellan’s book (which is already Amazon’s top seller) is being denounced, as is the former secretary. The Los Angeles Times‘ James Gerstenzang and Richard Schmidt quote an unnamed Texas Republican "who has known McClellan for a decade" saying:
A more moderate, market-savvy Rudy Giuliani told Fox & Friends that it’s all about selling books: "Some of it is for the price of the book, right? You get $27.95 per book and the fact that we’re talking about itjust sold probably ten thousand more copies of the books… And the publisher knows this."
It’s not just Republicans who are jumping on Mr. McClellan. An unsigned New York Times editorial states, "This is the same Scott McClellan who presumably had a big role in creating the White House’s communications strategy and joined in the ‘culture of deception’ with such zeal that we lost count of the times he ridiculed critics of the war and questioned their patriotism."
For those who want to hear Mr. McClellan in his own words, MSNBC.com has a video of him from this morning’s Today Show defending himself. But we much prefer SlateTV, which unearths an amusing old video of then-Secretary McClellan denouncing another administration memoirist for writing a book critical of the Bush Administration. We’ll leave it up to you decide which is the real McClellan and which is, as The New Republic‘s Jason Zengerle teasingly refers to him (in the context of administration loyalists who’ve questioned Mr. McClellan’s authenticity), "The Manchurian Memoirist."