Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"A Vast Ex-Staff Conspiracy"

Washington, May 30-
A stunned Bush White House reacted strongly today after the release of scathing excerpts from former press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, in which McClellan describes how the Bush administration propagandized the U.S. public to sell the war in Iraq and bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina.
In her daily press briefing this morning, current press secretary Dana Perino was highly critical of her former colleague. “‘’Scott was well paid to repeat the propaganda devised by the White House,” she said. “It’s not just bad form to reveal that the President, the Vice President, and Karl Rove have been manipulative and deceitful; it is disloyal.”
Perino continued, “This is not the Scott McClellan we knew and used. This Scott McClellan has a conscience he is unable to silence. We are puzzled, and we are sad. Who would have thought that a man who was with us every step of the way as we contrived a bogus rationale for launching a war against Iraq would someday expose our efforts? Certainly not me.”
Perino concluded, “Can you imagine how I feel, having to stand before you now and declare that none of what Scott says is true? I mean, who’s going to believe me, now that I’m press secretary, after a previous press secretary details all the lies and nonsense he had to mouth for the White House? This puts me in a really bad position, and shows incredible insensitivity on Scott’s part.”
Following these remarks, Perino took questions from the reporters assembled. The following is a transcript of that portion of the briefing.
Q. “Dana, has the president read Scott’s book, and if so, what was his response?”
A. “Scott’s book has been described to the president, and I do not expect the president to issue a response. He has more pressing matters than to spend time reading or commenting on books. Or newspapers or magazines, for that matter. Ask him how the [Texas] Rangers are doing this season.”
Q “Dana, isn’t there a remarkable consistency between what Scott has to say in his book and what former administration officials like Richard Clarke wrote in Against All Enemies, Paul O’Neill said in Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty, Karen Kwiatkowski wrote in The New Pentagon Papers, Paul Pillar wrote in Foreign Affairs, Jack Goldsmith wrote in The Terror Presidency, Christie Todd Whitman wrote in It’s My Party Too, David Kuo wrote in Tempting Faith, Ricardo Sanchez wrote in Wiser in Battle, and so forth?”
A. “That’s an excellent point. We think it is no accident that all of these people seem to be singing the same tune. We suspect there is a vast ex-staff conspiracy to portray the administration in an unflattering light, and we’ve asked the FBI to determine if this poses a threat to national security.”
Q. ”Dana, which of the administration’s usual responses to tell-all memoirs will you be following this time? ‘The author is “deeply troubled” or “in need of help”’; ‘The author is a disgruntled ex-employee who nursed a grudge’; ‘The author is a closet leftist whose true colors have emerged’; or ‘The author is a crass opportunist who spiced up his memoirs to get big bucks from a publisher’?”
A. “All of the above. The president, of course, issued an ‘above-the-fray’ statement yesterday in which he played the ‘bothered and bewildered’ card, saying he was ‘puzzled’ and ‘didn’t recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years.’ I’ve already said that ‘Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House.’ And we’re dispatching surrogates out to the talk shows. Karl Rove will play the political card, comparing McClellan to ‘a left-wing blogger,’ and Trent Duffy, Scott’s former deputy, will play the money card, suggesting that Scott ‘appears to be dancing on his political grave for cash.’ So we’ve covered all the bases.”
Q. “Dana, do you think the administration can maintain any shred of credibility, with these continuing revelations by people who were once part of its core?”
A. “No matter what happens, the president’s approval rating has never sunk below 34%. We believe there is a dedicated body of true believers out there who wouldn’t lose faith in the president if God Almighty pointed a finger at him.”
Q. “Given your experience so far with former staffers, will you handle things differently the next time someone leaves?”
A. “We’re considering a proposal by vice-president Cheney, who said, ‘The next time somebody tenders a letter of resignation, I’ll just invite him out for a duck hunt’.”
© Tony Russell, 2008

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