Truthiness and nothing but the truthiness

Monday, June 2, 2008

Truthiness: (noun)

1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

Today I listened to Terry Gross interview Scott McClellan, former Bush press secretary, possible robot, and author of What Happened, his soon-to-be released book about his time in Washington. McClellan is certainly not the first former Bush insider to pen a tell-all book. In fact, it seems to be de rigeur for former members of his administration to beat a hasty retreat right to the doors of the major publishing houses. Its almost like People magazine for political geeks.

McClellan portrays himself as a young, naive, decent guy sucked into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., where he worked "16 hour days" in the "White House bubble", unaware of public opinion or criticism of the administration. It is true that McClellan had little experience when he came to Washington. In fact, his major accomplishment pre-press secretary appointment appears to be his term as president of Sigma Phi Epsilon at the University of Texas. While he stopped short of actually claiming he was told to lie to the press, he hinted that had been the case, and certainly left the impression that his job was less about conveying information to the press, and more about maintaining his talking points in the face of the occasionally blistering questioning from the press corps. Which anyone who ever watched him deliver a "briefing" already suspected, but I digress.

Now, my opinion of Bush administration politicos ranges from dim, mealy-mouthed douchebag (McClellan) to conniving backstabbing opportunist (Karl Rove) to OMG, now I know what happened to Scorpius! (Dick Cheney) Post-interview, my opinion of McClellan is that he is a dim, lying, mealy-mouthed douchebag.

What got me was this: when asked if he had read the other books written by former Bush administration employees, McClellan's response was basically "I didn't read them because I knew they would conflict with my talking points". In other words, he knew when the books came out that former insiders were saying things that differed from what he was fed by the administration. Sorry Scotty, but that makes you a liar. The only way that comment makes sense is if he knew at the time that his talking points were false. Because if he trusted that his talking points were true, then what difference did it make what the books said? The only way it becomes a problem is if his talking points were lies, the books were true, and the press corps asked him to explain the discrepancy. Deliberately avoiding reading the books was the only way to avoid having to answer the question altogether.

So to sum up: McClellan is still obfuscating, still mealy-mouthed, and still sticking to his talking points. The only change is the source of his information.

Posted by oballard at 2:49 PM  
Amy in Ohio said...

Applauding from the back row. You know I love to celebrate anything that is anti-Bush, but this guy is a weiner.

June 2, 2008 at 3:55 PM  

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