A brief comment on the hot political story of the hour.
Former Bush administration Press Secretary Scott McClellan has written, for big bucks, a blistering memoir of his time in the Bush White House that savages many key administration figures and led one of them, former adviser and eminence grise, Karl Rove, to compare McClellan to a “ left-wing blogger“. Regardless of the truth of the memoir, an alleged “loyalist” who writes such a book is truly “disgruntled”. Why might that be ?
The Bush administration, in my mind, was never the second coming of Ronald Reagan but of Richard Nixon Redux. Set aside Watergate ( hard for those on the Left, I realize, but bear with me) for a moment; in Bush II you have a foreign policy presidency, a president with a polarizing personality, more partisan than ideological, an insular White House that shuts out even the GOP bigwigs, a reputation for “hardline” toughness, ruthlessness and secrecy. it is not surprising to me that ex-Bush “loyalists” are proving no more loyal to Bush in their scribblings than were the Nixon men.
I’ve read through every word of all of the memoirs of the Nixon era as well as a boatload of primary source documents. Even before Watergate, the Nixon White House was not a happy place and it showed in the recollections of those who labored for Richard Nixon; the descriptions of his White House are those of a shark tank. Henry Kissinger, despite his frequent brilliance was an insufferable prima donna and bully; Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell were widely (and justifiably) feared; Laird was an intriguer, Colson a thug, Liddy a fanatic and Dean a sycophantic snake. Some of these men later changed their views but none painted a flattering picture of the administration in which they served nor felt any obligation to Nixon to do so.
Given that so many senior figures in Bush II were once ” Nixon men” – Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz among many others – it would be a small wonder if some of the dysfunctional, slightly paranoid, corporate macho “pressure cooker” atmosphere of the Nixon era didn’t resurface in the Bush years. Rove complains that McClellan never spoke up at the time and he’s probably right – kissing ass and playing office politics probably was the order of the day moreso than being the bearer of bad tidings.