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Scott McClellan: Bogart or Paul Henreid?

May 29, 2008 |  1:02 pm


Scott McClellan's memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," which officially debuts next week, has gone to #1 at Amazon and caused consternation among high-ranking Republicans who are speaking out publicly against the book.

Some say they are "puzzled" and "sad" about the former White House press secretary's claims, which others say are "patently false." Publishers Weekly compares this to "Casablanca," in which a fully-aware Captain Renault (Claude Raines) makes a show of being "shocked, shocked!" at the goings-on at Rick's; Publishers Weekly suggests that Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Dana Perino and Ari Fleischer are simultaneously performing the role.

So what does that make Scott McClellan? Is he Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), the Resistance fighter, putting everything on the line to fight for justice? Is he Humphrey Bogart in the role of Rick Blaine, keeping his head down and taking no sides, deciding belatedly to stand up to the authoritarian regime?

Or could he be the lovely Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), torn between two very different men, finally compelled to go with her conscience instead of her heart?

Carolyn Kellogg