The turn of events with the release of Scott McClellan’s book is certainly a eye opener. Of all the articles I have read on both sides of the issue, Timothy Shriver’s McClellan: The Bubble made me do it, says it the best. The key to the whole thing is Taking Responsibilities for your own actions or inactions.
As a side note, I have seen reports that the publisher for McClellan is also the publisher for George Soros, whose who life is not dedicated to the downfall of President George Bush… No do not forget Soros is also tied to the Obama Campaign and MoveOn.org.
Scott McClellan has made the news circuit in recent days because of his shocking reflections on his tenure as the President’s press secretary. I don’t believe there is any comparable book where a former presidential press secretary has so completely disavowed the messages that he himself promulgated. Whether on war or crime or policy, McClellan has confessed to either being a source of error himself or of being deceived by the most senior people in the White House.
It’s disturbing enough to see someone of his stature accuse the administration of willful deception. After all, he was the administration. He was the one standing before the cameras, he was the one spinning the message, he was the one who was on the record. If he’s claiming deceit, then there’s no real debate: deceit it was. He was getting his talking points directly from the boss.
What’s even worse than feeling totally let down by one’s government is having to endure the explanations of what went wrong. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank captured McClellan’s repeated attempts to deflect responsibility in his Friday column. He was, in his words, “in the White House bubble.” “You get caught up in the…bubble.” He blamed “the permanent campaign culture.” Now he is “disappointed,” “dismayed and disillusioned.”
How about “responsible?”
Why is it that those who find themselves at the center of mistakes—big mistakes—find it so difficult to say, “It’s my fault”? Are we really to believe that Scott McClellan, in the ultimate center of power, was, somehow, powerless—that he was so overcome by his surroundings that he lost his will to tell the truth? Are we really to believe that the problem is Washington itself—that even good people are somehow broken and distorted by a headless force called “Washington”? Once you’re in that “bubble,” you’re done?
Come on. Washington is not the problem; Washington is a city. The White House is not the problem; it’s a building. The problem is people—people who lose their grip on truth, people who value their own power over the best interests of the nation, people who deceive others to protect an agenda. To modify a line from the NRA: Buildings don’t tell lies; people tell lies.
Religions have long been clear on the issue of culpability: there may be 1,000 forces that impel someone to make a serious mistake, but ultimately, the error is personal. The term “sin” is out of fashion these days, but the meaning shouldn’t be. When any one of us finds ourselves crossing the line—of truth, decency, or dare I say holiness—then it’s time for some old-fashioned honesty: I did it. I made the mistake. I am responsible.
The stakes for the country are high in this blame deflection game. The danger of accepting McClellan’s spin is that we come to believe that our system is responsible for our problems, that no one can be trusted, that people of authority are hopelessly corrupt. That’s a ticket to cynicism and worse: hopelessness.
Americans are smart enough to reject this form of blame deflection. And more importantly, despite the many times in which our leaders have disappointed us, Americans are hopeful enough to take the leap and believe anew in the possibility of a better future. Other countries and cultures sometimes mock our idealism, but we treasure it because we know how powerful it is in making us who we are.
Despite McClellan’s excuses, we’re still ready to believe that there are leaders who can tell the truth at the center of power, who can resist the deceitful force of Washington. Both the likely nominees for President are where they are largely because they have convinced us that they will tell us the truth about ourselves and about where they want to take us–White House bubble or not. We’re seeing turnout soar at the polls because people believe them. This race has been all about renewal, and Americans are ready for it.
As he makes the rounds of the talk shows, Scott McClellan would do a lot better to adopt their attitude. He should start by telling the truth. “I made the mistake” would be a refreshing way to start.