Today's papers have excerpts from Scott "Don't Shoot the Messenger!" McClellan's new book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception." In addition to exonerating himself -- "I was just too dumb to know I was repeating obvious lies" -- Scotty reminds us that damn near everybody associated with George W. Bush is a liar.
Better bloggers than I will focus on McClellan's many, many lies in the service of the Bush administration. The best will focus on the deception inherent in the Bush Iraq invasion and the outing of a CIA agent. Others will turn their eyes to McClellan's recollection of Whitehouse confusion and carelessness in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
But I'm a petty little man, so I was drawn to McClellan's tale of self-deception regarding George W. Bush's years of cocaine abuse:
McClellan tracks Bush's penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.Therein lies a lesson for all the young political operatives out there: If your candidate is willing to lie to himself about years of recreational drug use for political convenience, he is very likely willing to lie about national security for political convenience as well.
The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite "somewhere in the Midwest." Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.
"'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"
"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?" McClellan wrote. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."
Bush, according to McClellan, "isn't the kind of person to flat-out lie."
"So I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It's the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true," McClellan wrote. "And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious -- political convenience."