Friday, May 30, 2008

taking the brain down a notch

I just turned off Countdown with Keith Olberman and flipped to a DVR recording of Patty Griffin from Artists Den. The four-day week seems long and taxing, and frankly I'm sick of the chatter about Obama vs. Clinton and McLellan's take-down of the administration. After all, I don't think even hardcore Clinton supporters will be surprised at this point to see Obama win—rather than be handed—the nomination.

As for the former press secretary, well, that's a fresher, more interesting topic at the moment. I'm inclined to think that the administration misunderestimated Mr. McLellan as much as the rest of us did. His answers were so often ham-handed obfuscations or obvious smokescreens that it became easy to think he was just hung out as the fall guy. The doughy, mild fall guy. Worse for the administration, however, is the fact that they must have thought that his Texas-rooted loyalty would hold with him even after he'd been thrown under the bus.

Of course he hadn't developed any opinions in all of those meetings. Of course his all-access pass (rooted in his Texas history) hadn't afforded him the chance to speak the truth to power. Of course their very own press-bury dough boy would never turn on them and pull back the curtains the way others had. And if he did, no one would listen to him, right? Hell, even publishers didn't believe he would deliver any real dirt.

And, my oh my, they were all wrong. Instead, what we get is the boy pointing at the emperor with no clothes, Toto pulling down the curtain. We get an honest-to-god take down of the administration. It's not the first (nor is it likely to be the last) take down of this crew, but somehow this one stings more. They can't say—as they did with Clarke and others—that he wasn't privy to everything. They can't say that he was just an outsider—this man took it on the chin every day for his old friends. All they're left with are ad hominem attacks (also, not a first) on him as a disgruntled former employee.

As nice as it is to see the curtain pulled back, however, this book is just one in a series, a series that isn't likely to end any time soon. We've heard all of it before in different ways, from different perspectives. We will hear it again, the tale of the distastrous Bush years. Sadly, none of it will change the past eight years.

When I was in Ireland, Paris and elsewhere in 2001, people repeatedly asked me why we elected Bush. I said I'd voted for Gore, and that a majority had, in fact, voted for Gore. (How that translated to Bush becoming president was a more difficult explanation.) The Europeans saw then what 49% of Americans didn't see—that Bush was an ignorant play-cowboy. They saw what friends (including Brian and Amy over at Incertus) and I saw as we watched the tide turn in late 2000. We hoped that it wouldn't be as bad as we feared. And now, in the echo of Mclellan's voice and many other voices, it is clear that every fear we had has come true in spades.


On a side note, I have a marketing suggestion for John McCain as he runs for Bush's third term. He should ask—over and over—whether we are better now than we were eight years ago. Building a platform on this should guarantee him the votes of the 27% who still support Bush.