Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" is scheduled for publication Monday but it’s already causing a stir. Today, the administration laid into McClellan. Current Press Secretary Dana Perino said in a written statement: "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad - this is not the Scott we knew." That is a common sentiment and one shared by McClellan’s predecessor Ari Fleischer. Fleischer released a statement and will be on 360 tonight.
And there are only three Democratic primaries to go: Puerto Rico votes Sunday, South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday. But there's one other crucial showdown looming. On Saturday, Democratic National Party officials will meet in Washington to decide what to do about the Florida and Michigan delegates. We’ll have the latest on that from the best political team on television.
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Former USA Today Reporter
Editor's note: Richard Benedetto covered the White House for USA Today during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He retired in 2006 and now teaches political science and journalism at American and Georgetown Universities.
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's indictments of the Bush White House, some three years after the fact, ring a bit hollow to me. I say that because he was such a staunch and seemingly naive defender of President Bush and his policies during the time he was press secretary; even more so than his predecessor, Ari Fleischer, and his successor, Tony Snow.
Having seen McClellan during his days as press secretary come out every day and robotically press the administration view in the daily gaggles and briefings, even in the face of tough and sometimes badgering questioning from reporters, led most in the White House press corps to conclude that Scott was a true believer and there was no way were going to shake him or get him to tell tales out of school.
His most common tactic when continuously hectored by reporters to answer a question that they felt he tried to evade was to repeat the same obviously scripted line, over and over, until we finally gave up. We often walked away from the briefings in frustration, shaking our heads and muttering to ourselves.
So for him to come out now and tell us in his book that much of the information he was peddling to the media was false, or at least misleading, causes me to ask why he waited to long to tell what now he preceives as the truth. He charges that he was misled by high level White House aides such as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Did he know that he was misleading us, or was he a total rube?
While I have not read the book the things I have heard reported about it make me wonder if McClellan really wrote it. Having heard him speak many, many times, formally and informally, I know his voice. The lines being reported are quite candid, something he never was a press secretary.
I promised you I’d continue to update the food crisis; I wish I had better news. Twenty-two countries are facing the most sever threat, according the the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, because they already suffer from chronic hunger and must import both food and fuel. The high costs of those imports won't be going down anytime soon, which means the threat to theses nations won’t be lessening.
Wow…talk about bad neighbor relations. Can you imagine your son or daughter accidentally hits a ball over the neighbor’s fence, and when you go to get it, the neighbor calls the police? One Nebraska man says the iciness from next-door has now led to half a tree in his front yard.
I never thought I’d read about 6,000 tons fish being saved from a volcano…
They look like the girls I see playing in my neighborhood. Young girls. No age was listed with the photos of them kissing FLDS "prophet" Warren Jeffs. The photos were submitted by the state as evidence that girls were in imminent threat of abuse, but what I did not understand is why were these pictures entered into evidence of a family on the YFZ compound? FDLS Spokesman Rod Parker told our crews on the ground that this is a publicity stunt by the CPS, and that all families should stand alone in their custody hearings. After doing some digging I found that not only was this child in the pictures born in 1994, a minor, but an immediate family member of a father currently involved in a custody case. Plus this same little girl was expected to be called as a witness in the custody hearing. Shocking! As the family wanted to gain a reputation of why their infant was not in immediate danger, their defense is this same little girl? Not the best defense in my book.
Editor's Note: Mark Halperin is editor of ThePage at Time.com. He is a guest on AC360° tonight at 10p ET.
If Clinton wants to go on after Tuesday’s primaries, what will the arguments/actions be that will signal her determination?
1. File a lawsuit (or have someone else file a lawsuit…) challenging the DNC’s decision on Florida and/or Michigan.
2. Say she plans to appeal at the convention anything short of a DNC ruling on Florida and Michigan fully in her favor.
3. Highlight the fact that Obama doesn’t have a majority, if the number of delegates needed goes higher after Saturday’s DNC decision on Florida and Michigan.
4. Argue that since elected (a/k/a “pledged”) and automatic (a/k/a “super) delegates can change their minds at the convention, even an apparent Obama majority doesn’t mean he will have a majority in Denver.
5. Wait around to see if anything pops out of Obama’s closet.
Editor's Note: Below is Ari Fleischer's statement on Scott McClellan's book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington. You can see Ari Fleischer on 360 tonight at 10p ET.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2008
Statement by Ari Fleischer on Scott McClellan’s Book
“There is something about this book that just doesn’t make any sense.
For 2 ½ years Scott and I worked shoulder to shoulder at the White House. Scott was my always reliable, solid deputy. Not once did Scott approach me – privately or publicly – to discuss any misgivings he had about the war in Iraq or the manner in which the White House made the case for war. Scott himself repeatedly made the case for the war from the podium and even after he left the White House, I remember watching him on Bill Maher’s show – about one year ago – making the case for the war.
If Scott had such deep misgivings, he should not have accepted the press secretary position as a matter of principle.
We are continuing to work today on the revelations and accusations made by former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan in his new book. The story broke late yesterday, and last night we only had a few excerpts to discuss. Tonight we will go into much more depth, and we'll talk to people who served as White House Press Secretary and the people who question them – White House reporters.
It's interesting to see the public relations machinery already at work on this story. The White House and its surrogates are out in force now to discredit McClellan. They've said he wasn't a key player, he wasn't in important meetings, he's disgruntled, he wasn't qualified for the job, he's trying to sell books, his editor re-wrote parts of the book.
I don't know what's true and what's not in their allegations, or his for that matter, but he was the President's spokesman for nearly three years, and what he is saying can't simply be discounted. So we will check the facts tonight, and go indepth on what McClellan is saying.
I've also gotten some e-mails today about an article on the website of a local television station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The article is about Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal. In the article they state that I have endorsed Jindal as the best choice to be John McCain's Vice President. I have no idea where the reporter got this information, but I haven't endorsed him, or anyone else.
I don't endorse candidates. Never have. Never will. That's not my job. I called up the station and asked them to remove the incorrect sentence from their website, but just in case anyone thinks I've suddenly decided to start taking sides in political races, I haven't. I leave that to folks on other networks.
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Important things to note about Michigan and Florida delegates:
And finally, from the beginning everyone knew that these delegations would be seated in some fashion. Party can’t afford to alienate two delegate rich states.
Flight attendant giving evil eye–that’s all from Vegas... Will attempt Obama reaction in Colorado.