Daily Archives: November 24, 2007

You’re So Vague

John Dickerson’s dickering around again:

“Though Scott McClellan served as White House press secretary for three years, his words were perhaps never so closely picked over as they were this week. He’s working on a memoir of his time in the White House, and his publisher offered a little peek about the moment when he unwittingly took part in covering up the role Bush administration officials played in outing undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Here’s what McClellan said:

‘I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.’

“The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.

The flames roll’d on…he would not go
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He call’d aloud…”Say, father,say
If yet my task is done!”
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

“Speak, father!” once again her cried
“If I may yet be gone!”
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames roll’d on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death,
In still yet brave despair;

And shouted but one more aloud,
“My father, must I stay?”
While o’er him fast, through sail and shroud
The wreathing fires made way,

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And stream’d above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound…
The boy-oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea.

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part;
But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart.”

“Many people responded to this by going bonkers, suggesting that McClellan was fingering Bush, Cheney, and Chief of Staff Andy Card in the cover-up that followed the disclosure of Plame’s covert status. He was compared to John Dean, who blew the whistle on Richard Nixon. The AP headline read, “Former Aide Blames Bush for Leak Deceit.”
Though many former Bush aides remain loyal, McClellan could in fact be a candidate for a tell-all. “

Well not quite as much of a candidate as —

“After news broke Plame’s identity had been revealed in the summer of 2003, it was McClellan who played a key role in exonerating Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. In October 2003, he stood at the press room podium and said they were not involved. When it became obvious that was untrue, McClellan spent months stonewalling for the administration, refusing to address questions about the case. His credibility deteriorated with each appearance. Reporters started asking whether McClellan had lied when he gave his original denial or had been lied to. Before leaving his post in 2006, he answered that question explaining that Libby and Rove had not been straight with him.
When the book excerpt came out Tuesday, I was skeptical because McClellan said the five administration officials had been “involved” in putting out the bogus information. The word was too vague. It could have meant many different things. With respect to Rove and Libby, McClellan was already on the record saying that they’d misled him. But was he now saying the same thing about Bush, Cheney and Card? If so, why didn’t McClellan just say so? I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration knew it . That would be big news, indeed.”

Let’s Count to Five, shall we?

Irving, Shooter, Cardsharp, the Rove-er Boy and

No reason to trouble President Low Normal with these pesky details, is there?

“The reason McClellan chose the vague language is that he isn’t saying in his book that the top officials were involved in the cover-up-at least not all of them. “What Scott is saying is that it was clear that he was given information that was wrong,” says McClellan’s publisher, Peter Osnos. “Two of the people, Rove and Libby, knew it was wrong. But he has no reason to believe that the president didn’t think it was true. Andy Card did not think it was wrong. It’s kinda ambiguous about Dick Cheney.” (It’s always that way with the vice president.)”


“So, despite the uproar, McClellan’s excerpt pretty much tells us what we already knew about the roles of the key players during the relevant two weeks in October. Bush, Cheney, and Card may have been involved in pressing McClellan to push the story, but, as far as McClellan knows, those three were doing so because they too had been misled by Rove and Libby (with possible fuzziness here about McClellan’s view of Cheney).”


“Lost in the excitement is this larger point: Even if the president, the vice president, and Card didn’t know that McClellan was lying during those two October weeks, they certainly knew afterward that his stalwart defense had become inoperative, as reports surfaced that Libby and Rove had talked about the matter with reporters. And if they didn’t know for sure, they should have cared enough to find out when it became clear that Libby and Rove were not as innocent of Plame’s outing as they first claimed. Bush, Card, and Cheney never did much to figure out what the real story was. Nor did they step in to clear McClellan’s name-the decent kind of thing you do in an administration that prizes loyalty. People may say Bush lives in a bubble, but he wasn’t oblivious to the yawning contradiction between what McClellan had said on his behalf and what was turning out to be true.”

“For McClellan, perhaps there’s a delicious payback in the intense interest in his book (never mind if, so far, much of it is unearned). He had to spend many months emitting blurry answers that protected his colleagues at his expense; now he gets to generate a little buzz and maybe profit from a little vagueness himself.”

Dusty and The Pets put it best:

“Mandy’s in the papers ’cause she tried to go to Spain
She’ll soon be in the dock and in the papers once again
Vicki’s got her story about the mirror and the cane
It may be false, it may be true
But nothing has been proved

Stephen’s in his dressing-gown now, breakfasting alone
Too sick to eat, he’s on his feet and to the telephone
The police inspector soothes him with his sympathetic tone
It may be false, it may be true
But nothing has been proved

In the house a resignation
Guilty faces, every one
Christine’s fallen out with Lucky
Johnny’s got a gun
“Please Please Me” ‘s number one

(It’s a scandal! It’s a scandal! Such a scandal!)

Now, Stephen’s in the dock for spending money that was earned
By Christine, and the prosecution says that money burned
A hole in Stephen’s pocket, for expensive sins he yearned
It may be false, it may be true
But nothing has been proved

In the news the suicide note
In the court an empty space
Even Mandy’s looking worried
Christine’s pale and drawn
“Please Please Me” ‘s number one

(It’s a scandal! It’s a scandal! Such a scandal!)

Last night he wrote these words to his friend:
“Sorry about the mess
I’m guilty ’til proved innocent
In the public eye and press”;
The funeral’s very quiet because all his friends have fled
They may be false, they may be true
They’ve all got better things to do”