Sunday, June 08, 2008

Scoundrel -Speak

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Let me just say from the outset that I don't regard former White House mouthpiece Scott McClellan as any kind of hero for his "tell all" memoir, any more than I regard anyone who snitches on a gang of crooks as a hero. He should never have been hanging out with the crooks in the first place.

And it should come as no surprise to the pudgy, sweaty little weasel who told some of the Bush mis-administration's most egregious whoppers with a straight face that the usual suspects are hitting the talk show circuit and running the classic plays on him. After all, he helped write the playbook.

Some of those tired old talking points reveal just how ethically and intellectually bankrupt the Bushistas are, and how it's impossible to look back on George W. Bush's solemn pledge that he was going to be the one to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" as anything but a particularly sick joke.

Those by-now-clich├ęd lines form a special language all their own, a language spoken by every embezzler, fraudster, and disgraced CEO who's ever done, or ever deserved to do, a perp-walk.

I like to call it "scoundrel-speak." Here are a few translations and commentaries on the scoundrel-speak phrase book:

"McClellan's just a disgruntled employee!" This is the golden oldie that's been thrown at every whistleblower.

When you look around, though, it seems as if disgruntled employees of this White House are thick on the ground. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill; Former Campaign Chief Strategist Matthew Dowd; Former Counter-Terrorism Chief Richard Clarke; former Special Assistant David Kuo; Former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, former Pentagon official Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, etc. etc.

Now, I'm just a simple guy, but it seems to me that if you've got this many rats jumping off, there's something wrong with the ship.

Let me just ask: Are there any "gruntled" employees left at the White House?

"Why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner?": This one is particularly sweet to hear used on Scotty, because it's exactly what McClellan himself said about Richard Clarke when Clarke pointed out what a massive botch the Bushistas had made of the war on terror by ignoring the warnings of a significant terrorist attack in the works in the months leading up to 9/11.

(Remember the "bin Laden determined to attack in U.S." memo? Bet they wish you didn't.) In English, this translates to "Why didn't he speak up against our malfeasance while he was helping us commit it?" Because, as we know, the Bush administration has always been so open to dissenting ideas.

"McClellan sounds like a left-wing blogger!": Ever notice how more and more former Bushistas are sounding like "liberals"? Maybe because that's the sound of people actually telling the truth.

"We've heard all of this before, this is nothing new": It really blows my mind that anyone, even the most berserk right-winger, could consider this a defense.

It is true that a lot of people, including Bush insiders, have noted that the Iraq War was a "strategic blunder," that the administration "lacked candor and honesty" in the way they sold the war to us, and that they were in a "state of denial" about the debacle that was their response to Hurricane Katrina.

But what is it called when a dozen witnesses tell the same story?

Well, we in the law biz call it "corroboration."

"He's just trying to make money on his book!": Because, as we know, only books that bash Bush make money. Just ask Ann Coulter, Scott Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, etc. etc.

Of course, those authors tend to make the best-seller lists with a "dagger," a little icon by their title that indicates that booksellers are reporting large, multiple copy "bulk buys" meant for the express purpose of getting the book on the list.

Seems to me that if McClellan was only trying to get rich, he'd have gone with a publisher who'd get him on the lists by hook or by crook, rather than the small Public Affairs Press, which is notorious in the publishing world for its modest advances.

There's an old saying that "when you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps loudest is the one you hit." Judging from the reaction to Scott McClellan's book, it was one big rock that hit a lot of dogs.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I think he couldn't live with himself any longer. At least that's how most people would feel. I think he's donating some of the profits to charity too.

becky h said...

When I first heard reporters talk about McClellan's book, they seemed surprised that he would even write a tell-all book like this. My take on those reports was that McClellan was not someone who would "kiss and tell" unless it was truly necessary.

Now after hearing Bush insiders bash McClellan's accusations and then try to redirect the negative attention onto McClellan, I can't help feeling that Bush et al "...doth protest too much..."

Bill Cameron said...

Then there's the chorus of "We have examined our own performance and concluded we did nothing wrong," on the part of many top-tier "journalists." This whole thing would be almost funny if so many lives hadn't been ruined or ended.