Capturing all the headlines was a way of life for Scott McClellan so no suprise that his tell-all book about his time as George W Bush’s media spokesperson has set the news agenda here. All the American morning TV shows have had a parade of Bush supporters and White House officials denouncing McLellen and expressing their puzzlement at his sudden discovery that he had been peddling untruths.
It’s not even out but the book to be saying that he lied for his President about a range of issues regarding Iraq. This raises all sorts of questions about why he didn’t say anything at the time and why he believed in the statements he made in the first place.
He’s not the first spin-doctor to get all moral and ethical in retirement. Look at Lance Price for example. He’s a very nice man but it’s odd that a political journalist would take a job in government communications and then be surprised that it’s a dirty business. But I think it’s more interesting to compare McClennan with Alastair Campbell.
Campbell worked through the same period and some would accuse him of acting in a similar way by promoting things he should have known were not 100% provable. But Alistair’s diaries show no such remorse, indeed, he makes a strong defence of why he did what he did.
When regimes crumble you get these books. Metaphors about rats and ships sprin to mind. Look at the recent works by Levy, Prescott and Cherie Blair in the UK. They are not always written with attractive motives.
But I look forward to reading McClennen’s opus. Like Campbell’s diaries it will reveal much about the author’s psychology and it will also shed light on the wierd world of political messaging.