Um...Mr. President? That scandal that's buggin' you? It isn't a rash. It's um...herpes.
Hubris broke this one two nights ago, and dammit, I've gotta admit—I didn't pay the attention to it that I know I should have, because I was:
1.) A bit under the weather...
2.) Busy, as it's a short week with Thanksgiving eating two workdays off the end of it, and...
3.) ...Okay, maybe just a little bit jaded about PlameGate post-Bush's ass-covering, thong of a commutation for “Scooter” Libby.
I went to bed on it. I let it lie.
Woke up yesterday, and God-and-tucked-in-a-Whitman-Sampler-box-chocolate-baby-Jesus, the story blew up.
No, not blew up...that's not right. “Blew up” doesn't quite cut it.
Impacted is the word. Yeah! Impacted like a daisy-cutter in the middle of an oil refinery.
What is startling is that there has been no take-back, no mea culpa-massaging, or back-spin on the released passage from McLellan's book. None from him at all, or the publisher—Public Affairs Books. Here it is again:
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.
When Hub posted this the other day, he did so under the very matter-of-fact headline, Scott McLellan, Liar—which is absolutely correct, while also being perhaps too concentrated a distillation of what the story really says.
Allow me to amend and append that previous headline here.
Scott McLellan, Second-Hand Liar
I. Lewis Libby, Interference-Running, Flunky Liar
Karl Rove, CIA-Exposing, Reputation Assassinating, Cover-Up Master Liar
President Dick Cheney, CIA-Exposing, Illegal War-Pimping Liar
President George W. Bush, Illegal War-Pimping, and Cowardly, Ass-Covering Liar
A favorite cornered-wingnut-rat-facing-down-a rusty-rake, several axes, and-a-fistful-of-lawn-darts bleat of desperation is the one that goes “Show me...just show me ONE instance where someone actually LIED about something in this administration! ONE!—Squee! Squee! Squee!”
Generally, thanks to careful, lawyerly parsing, a nutbar can wiggle out of that corner using the old “it's more misinformation than an actual lie, per se” dodge, and thus live to beat off for another double-wetsuited, leather-masked day.
But McLellan's book's statement just flat-out implicates his White House bosses in lying about the CIA Leak Case. Yes, I saw the attempts to spin back by some pundits last night, doing their best drunken, disingenuous Chris Matthews “Wha hoppen?” confusion schtick—as though there is room for doubt as to what McLellan meant.
Understand this. Scott McLellan—whatever you may think of him, has made his bones as a manipulator of words. That's what he does for a living...when not doing stand in work for the fat kid in “Superbad” I guess. But he spent several years as the P.R. mouthpiece/“Message Of The Day”-shaper for the most powerful
He did NOT call the information “incorrect information”, as in something that could be shaded or could be misconstrued due to ungrasped nuance or context.
He specifically used the word “FALSE”. “FALSE” as in, there is the the true...and there is the FALSE.
True = TRUTH
False = LIE
They, those five people he named, “were involved” in his spreading something that “was not true”.
Now, you probably remember how folks on the right went into immediate denial mode over this whole situation in the first place.
There was the school of “Plame wasn't covert!”, and the Church of “Joe Wilson outed her!”—staffed by the Freeperian Brothers of the “Joe and Valerie will themselves be prosecuted” monastery. You saw the tongue-talking Ignorocosts muttering “It's too complicated to figure out, so 'eh'” to themselves and their fellow believers. Then there were the fire-breathing Insta-Gantrys who railed, “This-uh-huh!--Is a non-stoooooooreee-uh-huh! It's uh-uh-a tempest—lawd ha' mercy!—in a tea-pot! Nothin' t' see, nothin' t' see, nothin' t' see!”
The members of “Minimizer Dei” nodded along and whipped themselves while claiming that Plame was little more than a security-clearanced Lucy Carmichael.
We found the Armitageans, declaring loudly that it was their deity who sculpted the entire, scandal-filled world in the very image of his bald, but too-talkative head.
And finally, there were “The Commuters”—no, not the daily travelers of rail and road, but rather, those who worshipped at the holy, blessed altar of sentence commutation. They, who threw their hands skyward on that “great, rug-sweeping-under morning” in a hallelujah chorus of “It is finished! It is finshed! It is...FUCKING FINISHED, SO GET OVER IT ALREADY-NYAH-NYAH!”.
But it wasn't finished, was it?
What—if I may paraphrase Mr. McLellan—the fuck happened?
I think it was this:
McLellan was put out in front, every day for months without so much as a fly-swatter to fend off questions about the veracity of his boss and peers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. His job was to beat the wolves back, and to change the tenor of the story around the leak and the subsequent lies about it.
I believe he knew he was lying for the boss, but that they were “good soldier” lies of necessity.
Unfortunately, the sordid mess he was tasked with smoothing over was impossible to finesse, and he became identified personally with the stumbling and bumbling in the cover-up. He was clearly frustrated with this particular project, and on several occasions pretty much threw his hands into the air in exasperation and resignation over what was a hopeless situation for him. He of course, left before the Libby trial and its negative verdict, but the damage had already been done. His inability to spin bug-eaten straw into 14-karat gold was held against him, I think. His being unable to stand and lie with the cool authority of Tony Snow—and thus take some heat off the White House—made some in the White House not like him. “How dare he not effortlessly play the 'true believer' role as we need him to!”
“Fuck him. He's dead to us.”
Note that McLellan got no hook-up at FOX, or at the Journal, or any other bastions of walk-in wingnut welfare.
Soon as he booked, he was cooked. Ari Fleischer's back in the fold with his littlle Pro-Iraq lobbying/PR group that's working for the White House...but not McLellan, whose reputation took the cock-punch for not being able to spin the unspinnable.
Picture a guy who covers himself in lard, sheep blood and goose-liver paté. Said guy then puts on a windbreaker—and nothing more—and heads out into the bear-filled woods, where he summarily has his legs, arms and half his face eaten off by a bear.
Now imagine that guy surviving, and then suing the manufacturer of the windbreaker for it's not protecting him from the bear's attack.
Scott McLellan is the windbreaker manufacturer. You can guess who the angry, legless, armless, and half-faceless motherfucker is.
Once Libby was convicted and sentenced, the blame-mongers at 1600 saw McLellan as a convenient scapegoat for “it all going wrong”. And of course, once Scooter's sentence was commuted and it was as if everything was just a big, fucking joke, you can only imagine how that must've set McLellan's teeth on edge. He ate shit for months for what turned out to be an “Eh. Didn't matter anyways.”
It didn't change the fact that he was the one who took the worst hits every day for months and months, and in spite of that sacrifice still finds himself somewhat on the outs. Oweee!
Toss into the mix what he sees coming down the pike for '08 for “his side”. A potential disaster come November, spelling even fewer chances at a space at the trough.
Fuck it. Walk 'cross the bridge, pouring gas all the way. Ditch the can. Drop a match. Warm your fat, little hands in the glow.
Now, I don't think that he's gonna go all Martha Mitchell and dent a thousand Beltway heads with dimes dropped from the Washington Monument in his book. He's for the most part gonna do a version of the Ari Flesicher literary pocket-pick, where he steals a bunch of dough from a publisher for not saying a whole helluva lot.
For the most part.
Unlike Fleischer though, he's got some pretty serious in-house axes to grind, and though this book'll certainly be 98% “village” fluff, part of the remaining 2% is apparently going to be about score-settling with the people who he feels hung him out to dry during a dustbowl-grade wind-storm.
And when a President's former press secretary tells a tale out of school about a supposedly “closed”, but still “radioactive” story like Scottie did, with that administration still in power...that's a bomb-drop, make no mistake about it.
This isn't about a sudden attack of honesty.
This is about sugar in the gas tank.
Snaking the running garden hose into the freezing basement.
Greasing the tub.
Or as James Brown called it...“The Big Payback”.
And the the way you know the right is shitting rebar over this is their deafening silence to the point of not even scoffing at McLellan's revelation. Not a mention at Powerline, Malkin or the Rope-Belted Perfesser's™ cyber-shack. Not a single “meh”, “heh” or “boo-frickin'-hoo” out of the bunch. Drudge ignored it (Drudge? Ignoring a bombshell revelation from a coming book? WTF?) until 10 p.m. last night, and then buried it under links about “anorexia websites in Spain” and people going back to using horses in France.
It may not be the thing that takes this corrupt band of wing-tipped hooligans down as I mused about in July...
3.) A major whistleblower who produces documents detailing Bush admin misdeeds. Call me an optimist, but there's always somebody who just...breaks under conscience's weight.
...But it is damned entertaining watching them try to Valtrex this nasty outbreak away—even if I did give too much credit on “conscience” figuring into the mix.
And I'm sure a lot of Beltway insiders feel that McLellan has committed some sort of “crime” with this. So much so that I'd wager—“gasp!—they've even filed a report!
(CLICK TO ENLARGE FOR EXTRA FUN)