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Is Scott McClellan Out Of A Job?

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Is White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan out of a job?

The last time McClellan gave an on-the-record press briefing from the White House press podium was 19 days ago. PR Week recently speculated that McClellan was on his way out, based on scuttlebutt among the White House press corps.

Some liberals may cheer McClellan’s departure, but JABBS would never endorse killing the messenger. It’s akin to demanding a sports writer be fired because the home team stunk this year. McClellan is that sports writer, and this administration most certainly stinks.

If McClellan has been dumped, it won’t be a victory for those battling the Bush spin machine.

When McClellan offered garbage to the media, it was because he was provided garbage by the Bush Administration. When his answers lacked logic, it was because the higher-ups couldn’t provide him with any logic.

In a recent example, McClellan told reporters that President Bush never told Palestinian leaders that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. In disputing statements made for a BBC series by Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, McClellan admitted he “didn’t travel on that trip,” when Bush allegedly made the comments.

Was McClellan lying about Bush? JABBS can’t say. But logically, McClellan’s statement made no sense. He was only parroting what some higher-up told him to say.

Certainly, there’s a laundry list of questionable McClellan statements. He contradicted himself regarding commenting on the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and appears to have lied when he said conclusively in 2003 that Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was “not involved” in the leak. He contradicted Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about whether a flawed Newsweek article incited violence in Afghanistan. He pretended not to know that US troops in Tikrit had been coached prior to a teleconference with President Bush, even after the coaching had been caught on tape. After Hurricane Katrina, he obfuscated, rather than answer the question: “Scott, does the president retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?”

But in each of these cases, it’s easy to argue that McClellan was just parroting the administration’s official message of the day.

***

If McClellan is dumped, the final straw may have been his written statement attacking a troop withdrawal plan authored by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). McClellan said Murtha was “endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party.”

But even here, was McClellan speaking on his own behalf? Probably not. Did what McClellan say look bad, leading to comparisons to vicious attacks made by Bush cronies in 2000 against another Vietnam War veteran, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)? Absolutely. Soon thereafter, both President Bush and Vice President Cheney read the tradewinds, and backed away from McClellan’s comments in an effort to “quell a backlash.”

By doing so, they killed their messenger. But no doubt, if McClellan’s career really is over, they’ll have no trouble finding a replacement.

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This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.

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About David R. Mark

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Particularly well said, David. Scott McClellan was hired to be a mouthpiece, and that’s what he was. No more, no less.

    If anybody gets a victory out of this firing, it’s Scott McClellan. Maybe he can actually explain some of the things he refused to explain for so long.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I hear Jeff Gannon is seeking employment. He can’t be making that good of a living by wrriting for his site. Unless, of course, he’s still servicing members of Congress and other power brokers in Washington with other talents.

    Ari Fleischer was smart to get out when he did. McClellan should have jumped the day after the election. Not to worry, they’ll get another mouthpiece and that one will be gone by Spring 2007.

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    I don’t blame Scot for the state of the team, but even the messanger has some basic responsibilities. Like Ron Ziegler, McClellan stopped being the “reporter” or “press secretary” when his briefings slipped into outright lies. It doesn’t matter to me if he was given poor material to work from, there is a line between lying and spinning that’s elusive, but it’s there. One was part of his job, the other is not. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are others in the White House aren’t more responsible, I just won’t shed any tears for Scot Mclellan should he have been purged by the Crawford politburo.

  • http://www.iamcorrect.com Lono

    McClelland is a warrior. As a Dem, I have gained so much respect for him. Poor dude has to come out and lie and cover up and deny every single day. You are absolutely right, David… McClelland is not a monster… even though he has to cover for these assholes. This summer I said that there was no way McClelland would last through the year. No one can lie that much and not have it eat their soul over time.

    What is especially unfortunate is that the White House is constantly being caught in lies… and McClelland takes the brunt of it every time. I used to think Ari Fleischer was the greatest, because he would lie to your face every time and deny it. He was a master.

    However, McClelland is the best because he is able to defer and deflect without having to lie. I can’t wait until his book comes out about this administration.