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May 30, 2008

Comments

In a perfect world, McClellan would have resigned under protest.

In this world, as you say, hilzoy, "better late than never."

I think most people qualify as 'mixed bags', Scotty being no exception. Not everyone is strong enough or brave enought to turn themselves into a martyr. For some reason Shindler's list pops into mind here as a parallel example... flawed, but trying. Scott didn't have to write this book or say these things, so 'better late than never' will have to do (for me, that is).

For some reason Shindler's list pops into mind here as a parallel example... flawed, but trying.

I think a better parallel would be an SS guard who enthusiastically did his job at the time but later, long after the allies swept him up, thought better of it.

Scott didn't have to write this book or say these things, so 'better late than never' will have to do (for me, that is).

But he did have to write this book and say these things if he had any hope at all of preserving his reputation. Bush's legacy will be unending shame, as will that of anyone remotely connected to him. The only way to mitigate that judgment of history is to get out first with your own critique, which is exactly what McClellan has done here. Let us not forget that publishing this book now advances his own interests. Who among us would want to be looked upon by our friends, our neighbors, and our children the way Baghdad Bob is by his associates?

I agree with JR. I'm quite capable of forgiveness. Which is not synonymous with forgetting.

But more like this, please. I'm not after purity, just an end to this madness.

"I have mixed feelings about McClellan. As best I can tell, what changed his mind about the Bush administration was having Rove and Libby completely destroy his credibility (what there was of it) by lying to his face so that he could repeat their lies in public. That was, in fact, a terrible thing to do. But, as this encounter makes clear, it's not as though McClellan didn't know that people were having their good name savaged by the White House."

I have mixed feelings about it all. All political jobs involve compromise. The question is (or almost always should be) is *this* compromise worth *that* aim which I hold dear. The reason the Rove/Libby thing hits hard for someone like McClellan is that it interferes with his ability to judge at any moment whether or not *this* compromise is worth it because they are disguising what the compromise really is.

Now you can argue that other compromises should have been unacceptable. And that is a fine argument to have. But I think the reason the Rove/Libby thing would be a last straw, makes sense independent of that issue.

Scottie ran with a bad crowd.

Bad things happen when you associate with bad influences. It what you learn as a kid and what you try to teach your kids.

I won't buy his book; I don't want to reward him for his past bad behaviour. I haven't read enough of the excerpts to know whether he truly and sincerely accepts and apologizes for his role in the mess the administration has gotten us all into. If he has, I am willing to forgive him on my account, because for me that is the right way to think about it. But like I say, I don't think he should profit from his involvement; on the other hand he does own his own life story and he's entitled to sell it as a memoir. I'm just not obligated to buy it.

It is also the practical approach, as has been known since the first plea bargain was negotiated, probably back in prehistoric times; if we flatly refuse to accept or forgive those who sincerely repent of their past bad behaviour, then we provide no support for them to do it, which means fewer of them will when presented with that dead-end. Which means the bad behaviour will last longer. There needs to be a path to acceptance and forgiveness for anyone willing to renounce the bad acts they did in the past. That doesn't mean they are absolved of their responsibility for criminal actions, but just that we say "We will be nicer to you if you come clean and apologize."

But I can only speak for myself on the subject. I can understand why someone else would have no time for him. And if he hasn't truly apologized - as I say I haven't read enough to really know one way or another - then yeah, he needs to work a little harder at that. Baby steps are better than none though.

I posted this at IIRTZ where we were having a similar discussion. I don't really think its necessary to decide what kind of person McClellan is, or to approve what he did, or to see buying his book as approval or dissaproval. I won't bother because there isn't enough in it--because he was too low level a functionary--for me to care for more than the excerpts. But on the question of whether he was "lying then or lying now" (the way the right wants to frame it, as though it both weren't possible) or "a liar" in an existential sense, as some commenters would have it, I think these are both misguided ways of seeing mcclellan.

Here's my comment:

I don't really think (most) people are liars pure and simple. I think its more shakespearian than that--"even a dog is obeyed in office" is what I'm thinking. I think that certain very gullible people mistake their job for their duty, and mistake their leaders for their heroes. McClellan always struck me as a basically good person who was willfully ignoring the reality of his function, which was propaganda for a totally immoral and corrupt administration. He a) thought it wasn't immoral and corrupt and b) thought that his job was his duty and that loyalty to the one that brung him was more important than his loyalty to the truth, or to the country, or anything else. He isn't and wasn't a "liar" in the sense that a compulsive fabulist is a liar. And he didn't lie for his own gain. I think he's a classic submissive authoritarian. He submitted his will and his intellect to people that he had decided, very foolishly, were the appropriate authorities and he then couldn't question that original decision.

I think once he left he started to feel more free to read and think and interact with other kinds of authorities, other kinds of perspectives and he was able to shake off the glamor/illusion. And once he did that he actually came forward--which he didn't have to do and which will certainly cost him something in the way of the eternal right wing revolving door--and confessed. He was no great thinker before and he isn't one now. But he wasn't a "liar" before, he was a servant of liars. If he chooses a better master, he'll be a better man.

aimai

I posted this at IIRTZ where we were having a similar discussion. I don't really think its necessary to decide what kind of person McClellan is, or to approve what he did, or to see buying his book as approval or dissaproval. I won't bother because there isn't enough in it--because he was too low level a functionary--for me to care for more than the excerpts. But on the question of whether he was "lying then or lying now" (the way the right wants to frame it, as though it both weren't possible) or "a liar" in an existential sense, as some commenters would have it, I think these are both misguided ways of seeing mcclellan.

Here's my comment:

I don't really think (most) people are liars pure and simple. I think its more shakespearian than that--"even a dog is obeyed in office" is what I'm thinking. I think that certain very gullible people mistake their job for their duty, and mistake their leaders for their heroes. McClellan always struck me as a basically good person who was willfully ignoring the reality of his function, which was propaganda for a totally immoral and corrupt administration. He a) thought it wasn't immoral and corrupt and b) thought that his job was his duty and that loyalty to the one that brung him was more important than his loyalty to the truth, or to the country, or anything else. He isn't and wasn't a "liar" in the sense that a compulsive fabulist is a liar. And he didn't lie for his own gain. I think he's a classic submissive authoritarian. He submitted his will and his intellect to people that he had decided, very foolishly, were the appropriate authorities and he then couldn't question that original decision.

I think once he left he started to feel more free to read and think and interact with other kinds of authorities, other kinds of perspectives and he was able to shake off the glamor/illusion. And once he did that he actually came forward--which he didn't have to do and which will certainly cost him something in the way of the eternal right wing revolving door--and confessed. He was no great thinker before and he isn't one now. But he wasn't a "liar" before, he was a servant of liars. If he chooses a better master, he'll be a better man.

aimai

aimai,

Great comments.... both times.

McClellan will make a lot of money from his book, and will probably end up with a high paying job in some political sinecure or other.

Before he was Bush's press secretary, he was a Texas political functionary, mostly for members of his own family. I don't think most folks had ever heard of him. I don't see that his time in the White House has compromised a previously brilliant career.

He got used, and now he'll turn it to his own advantage. That's my take.

I'd take him more seriously if he owned his own responsibility in promoting Iraq. Sackcloth and ashes seem appropriate, rather than a book tour. Or, you know, voluntary cooperation with criminal investigations. I'm sure he'd have something to contribute.

Thanks -

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