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Former press secretary Scott McClellan turns against President Bush

May 27, 2008 | 11:00 pm

On accepting Scott McClellan's resignation as his press secretary two years ago, President Bush predicted that he and the outgoing aide some day would be "rocking in chairs in Texas and talkinFormer White House press secretary Scott McClellan and his boss President George W. Bush at the announcement of McClellan's resignationg about the good old days."

But maybe their days in the White House together weren't so happy after all.

Next week will bring the publication of McClellan's 341-page tome, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception." It is described by Politico's Mike Allen as "surprisingly scathing."

He quotes McClellan as saying....

...Bush "veered terribly off course," was guilty of a "failure to be open and forthright on Iraq" and relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.

The ample serving of harsh criticism from McClellan comes as a surprise to many.

Although White House reporters sometimes felt he was uncomfortable in his press secretary role, McClellan was considered one of Bush's Lone Star loyalists hired by former communications director Karen Hughes for the Texas governor's office and the 1999-2000 campaign.

McClellan was rarely used as an on-camera campaign spokesman and served as assistant in the shadow of former press secretary Ari Fleischer. At the time Bush naming him the official press secretary surprised many of his colleagues, who felt he was in over his head at times.

Maybe McClellan was embittered by the likelihood that he was bamboozled by Bush's top strategist Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was the vice president's chief of staff, about the disclosure of the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. (Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice last year in the case.) 

McClellan pointed to a confidential meeting Rove and Libby held "at a moment when I was being battered by the press for publicly vouching for the two by claiming they were not involved in leaking Plame's identity."

Only later, McClellan said, did he realize he had been "deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood" about their involvement.

While McClellan writes that "I still like and and admire President Bush," he doesn't do his old boss many favors in the book. On the war in Iraq, he is particularly stinging. McClellan calls the decision to invade Iraq "a serious strategic blunder."

"No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."

--Stuart Silverstein

Photo Credit: MSNBC

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