Book Review: Scott McClellan – What Happened

What Happened is former Bush White House press spokesman Scott McClellan’s take on what he believes went wrong with the man and the administration he served. It’s also a trip through his own political coming of age, as a member of a public service-minded family. In the book, it is clear that McClellan genuinely admired Bush and can not accept that his former boss could so easily delude the American people, let alone himself. Throughout the book, McClellan says “I don’t believe there was any intention to deceive the American people.” Yet there are moments when McClellan’s observations contradict this view of his boss’s character, such as during Bush’s run for the Presidency when he tells advisors he can’t remember whether he ever used cocaine. McClellan finds this is impossible to believe. At times, it sounds as if McClellan is trying to convince himself. At numerous points, he seems to blame the Washington culture, or the Clinton administration, for the actions of his former boss. He is less generous where it concerns the actions of other Bush Administration officials. It is the use of and damage to his own credibility to cover for Scooter Libby and Karl Rove in the leaking of Valerie Plame’s indentity, that is the beginning of the end of McClellan’s time in the White House. It is, however, three words from Bush himself that are the kicker in McClellan’s ulitmate decision to leave. The audiobook read by McClellan himself is worth listening to, if for no other reason than to hear a man wrestling and coming to terms with his own past and the consequences for our nation.

Click here to hear a clip from the book in which McClellan wrote about the Bush Administration’s response to Katrina.

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