McClellan on McClellan

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He did a live chat today with the Washington Post. Some tidbits:

Washington: Mr. McClellan, having been in the position of defending the White House from past officials writing their own books, how do you feel about comments you made previously regarding such tell-alls? How do you respond to criticisms that you might have left your job rather than defend the administration’s positions, if you felt moral qualms about doing so? Very much looking forward to reading your book — I feel there is a lot to be said about the administration, and your book may be a key piece in moving this exploration forward.

Scott McClellan: I got caught up in the permanent campaign culture just like so many others do all too often in today’s poisonous Washington environment. It has become the accepted way of doing things, and I believe excessively embraced. Richard Clarke is someone I criticized from the podium. I actually saw him last night in New York and expressed my regret for the way I handled that situation.


Anonymous: I read this morning that your initial draft was seen as a boring, run-of-the-mill White House spokesperson piece that wouldn’t sell. Is this true? If so, did money motivate you to be more reflective?

Scott McClellan: I do not know where you read that, but it is not true. As for the question about whether money motivated me, I encourage you to read an article in today’s New York Times that addresses that question to some extent.

What motivated me was a desire to understand the truth of how things went so far off track for this White House and what we can learn from it to improve governance in Washington. I joined Governor Bush’s team in Texas because of his record of bipartisan leadership, thinking he could do the same for Washington. Unfortunately, we embraced a permanent campaign philosophy and only exacerbated the destructive partisan warfare that preceded us.


Montreal: You wrote that the liberal press had been complacent with the administration regarding the war in Iraq. What was the cause of this, in your opinion, and how can this be avoided in the future?

Scott McClellan: Yes. I see that has sparked much discussion among the media. A number of journalists have said they agree. I think some of it had to do with the post 9/11 moment and some of it was due to their complicity in exacerbating the permanent campaign culture. A number of journalists asked the right questions and raised the right questions. But, I belive the overall emphasis and focus of the national media was on the march to war–whether the president was winning the battle for public opinion–instead of on the necessity of war. I think the media has learned lessons from that experience and have taken some steps to not let it happen again.