Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2008

David Frum Explains the McClellan Tell-All

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:01 pm

And he does it with insight — placing the primary blame not on McClellan, but on Bush’s domineering teasing and valuing loyalty above all else. Read it all — it rings true.

19 Responses to “David Frum Explains the McClellan Tell-All”

  1. I still give Bush credit for sticking with the Iraq campaign but he has hurt himself badly with his inability to make his case to the American people. This explains why that may have happened.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  2. It doesn’t ring completely true for me. I’ve had the misfortune to have worked for a boss who was the type of person Frum claims Bush is–belittling, demanding absolutely loyalty, generous (within certain limits–he was an absolute cheapskate) but ready to turn on you at a moment’s notice. As part of the package, he was also an extreme micromanager. Since he didn’t really trust anyone, he couldn’t trust them enough to delegate any real authority, which Frum says Bush does. And what motivated him to act like an a-hole is also what motivated him to micromanage.

    kishnevi (3cf898)

  3. Doesn’t ring true for me either. Bush prizes loyalty above all else because he saw what happened to Reagan and Bush The Elder — turncoats a-plenty. And if Frum thinks Texas isn’t an adequate test kitchen, what about Arkansas? (Meaning no disrespect, AR, but you ARE smaller than TX. A lot.) McClelland not somehow qualified or worthy? I agree. He was almost as bad as Dee Dee Myers.

    So I don’t think Frum nailed it. Bob Dole sure did.

    Viktor (6c107f)

  4. “it rings true”……it does? nonsense, the fact is a president needs hundreds (maybe thousands) of people to fill various posts in any administration. the notion that all of these people are going to be brilliant at their job is simple. lets just call this what it is, a friend of a friend of a friend got scott McClellan his job, and he cashed in at the end. BIG DEAL

    james conrad (7cd809)

  5. I can’t comment on the “teasing domineering” part — I don’t know that much about President Bush. But that the President pulls up people who push him up has long been obvious. McClellan was pulled into a position for which he had no talent.

    nk (6c75e0)

  6. Not sure what Frum has against Rice, Card or most of the others. His swipe at Miers was a bit odd, too, given that Frum prided himself in being the first to identify Miers as possible Supreme Court pick, but neglected to mention at the time that he thought she was woefully unqualified for the job. AFAIK this is the first time Frum has indicated that she was unqualified even for the job that she already had.

    Like McClellan’s tell-all, Frum’s comes a bit too late.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  7. how craven would you have to be to hang up the president’s jacket when he ordered you? karl rove craven!

    assistant devil's advocate (f33f79)

  8. Frum’s explanation of how Bush interacts with his closest advisers may ring true. But I don’t understand how it would lead to this action by McClellan. How does one go from: (A) Bush’s belittling/embracing relationship to (B) McClellan turning on him (broadly speaking)? Is it simply McClellan being bitter over being mistreated? That simple?

    I glanced through the book at the bookstore as well as having read the excerpts published elsewhere and from that, admittedly quick overview, I found the book to be strange. Strange as in inconsistent, rambling.

    There are no footnotes, no documentation, no original sources (even, if you will, from him) for any of his claims. And from what I’ve read, he doesn’t mention a single specific instance where he sat in on a meeting where the “propaganda” campaign was made. All we hear is this vague “Bush Administration” engaged in political propaganda or used a campaign style method to promote the war.

    It seems clear that McClellan had some sort of post-Administration change in his views. Whether these changes were sincere or whether they were coached out of him remains to be determined. Like most things I guess the truth is somewhere near the middle of those extremes.

    SteveMG (79932f)

  9. There are no footnotes, no documentation, no original sources (even, if you will, from him) for any of his claims. And from what I’ve read, he doesn’t mention a single specific instance where he sat in on a meeting where the “propaganda” campaign was made. All we hear is this vague “Bush Administration” engaged in political propaganda or used a campaign style method to promote the war.

    It seems clear that McClellan had some sort of post-Administration change in his views. Whether these changes were sincere or whether they were coached out of him remains to be determined.

    Maybe this is the reason for such a result: American Thinker: Soros Publisher ‘Shaped’ McClellan’s Hit Job: Other publishers don’t recognize it as the same book

    Again, agents start at the tope of the food chain and work their way down. McClellan finally reached a deal with PublicAffairs, which according to the AP “specializes in policy books by billionaire George Soros” and others.

    Further, the unwritten book wasn’t published based upon McClellan’s proposal. “(Public Affairs founder Peter) Osnos said he didn’t even read the proposal” the article reports. Instead, Osnos “sought out people who knew McClellan and said they regarded him as an honest man unhappy in his job.”

    In other words, Osnos didn’t look at the proposal of the book McClellan wanted to write; he was more interested in confirming that McClellan was disgruntled with the White House.

    PublicAffairs editor Lisa Kaufman confirmed to the AP that the proposal McClellan shopped around was nothing like the book that plunges the knife into his benefactor’s back. “The original proposal was somewhat general,” Kaufman admits, “so before making an offer on the book we talked to Scott at some length.”

    It takes little imagination to gather how the conversation between George Soros’s publisher and a disgruntled former Bush administration official hawking his unwritten memoirs, still unsold after having gone through the tope tier of publishers, went.

    But imagination isn’t needed.

    A book’s editor and its author work extremely closely–with the author sweating over every word, every detail, and the editor helping shape the pacing and overall tone of the manuscript. Kaufman told the AP that as McClellan wrote the book the “tone began to be directed toward issues and events that some people would rather he not be straightforward and candid about.”

    Paul (de3f43)

  10. Frum has a new book out, Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win. Frum takes some real shots at Bush, too, including criticism on Bush’s judgment of others and sticking with a losing hand when he makes a mistake (i.e. Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales).

    Frum was a speechwriter who had his own bit of controversy when he drew some inadvertent, but unhelpful, attention. Maybe this is his attempt to separate himself from McClellan, Richard C. Clarke, and others who were in over their head and didn’t have success.

    TimesDisliker (fa1b7f)

  11. For another view of the lead up to the Iraq war, read Douglas Feith’s War and Decision.

    Alta Bob (53a695)

  12. The only good news for Bush is that he is ‘self-deceived’ (per McClellan on MTP today)

    It may be he is the only one who escapes indictment because his delusional approach to problem solving could be interpreted as ‘borderline personality’ for
    a foundational ‘insanity’ plea.

    Semanticleo (8e92a9)

  13. The only good news for Bush is that he is ’self-deceived’ (per McClellan on MTP today)

    Not much of a surprise.

    A person who cannot speak a coherent idea is being quoted favorably by a person who cannot write a coherent idea.

    SteveMG (79932f)

  14. I wondered when the BDS sufferers would show up. Here’s something more for you guys:

    Aide: Mr. President, your former press secretary is saying bad things about you!

    President Bush: My former press secretary? Who’s going to believe that guy?

    (From the Boston Globe via the New York Times.)

    nk (6c75e0)

  15. Short review of McClellan’s book: “I was a lying crapweasel for three years, when I was only getting paid a $168,000.00 salary, but I am telling you the truth now after I got fired and George Soros promised me a gazillion bucks.”

    nk (6c75e0)

  16. Frum left the White House and had some fairly open disagreements with Bush at the time. His book is an excellent opinion piece about the conservative dilemma. Most of the conservative agenda from 1980 has been accomplished. Taxes cut, welfare reformed, crime in cities down because of law enforcement. Education didn’t get reformed and spending never got cut. That last is the big failure that led finally to 2006.

    I was a McCain supporter in 2000 and we would probably be better off if he had won the primaries. Republicans don’t do dark horse campaigns like Obama, or McCain in 2000. I think McCain would have beaten Gore by a bigger margin. Unfortunately, since then he has gone off the deep end on campaign finance and immigration. Neither of those was an issue in 2000. He is extremely lucky in getting an opponent like Obama.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  17. I am viewing Scott as a big marshmallow target to deflect the press horde who ended up most of the time looking like a deer in the headlights and now is just doing some payback.

    This administration has done little to engage the press, mainly since the press has a real history of not playing honest broker in that type of relationship.

    If all that Scott said was going on where is the pampered White House Press Corps not having ever dug any of this out on their own.

    There are more than enough leakers and squeakers to have kept it all quiet.

    SlimGuy (ea6549)

  18. There are more than enough leakers and squeakers to have kept it all quiet.

    I assume you mean “not” to have kept it quiet?

    That is, if the WH was engaging in a massive propaganda campaign that surely somewhere at sometime someone would have blown the whistle?

    McClellan owes his friends and associates, not to mention the public, some specific charges.

    Name names. Times. Places. Specifics. Not generalities.

    To claim that the Administration engaged in a “political propaganda” campaign without specifics is to smear every member of the White House with that charge.

    That’s cheap and unfair. And it’s turning your back on friends.

    But McClellan cannot do this. I.e., give specifics. Because the sources for his charges come from outside sources that he claims to have read after he left the White House.

    So, someone who was, he says, at the center of a political propaganda campaign cannot name one single specific instance of this manipulation?

    I call BS on you, Mr. McClellan.

    SteveMG (79932f)

  19. I wouldn’t look to Frum for disinterested commentary.

    Beldar (836c92)


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