Annals of forensic psychology: The “this is not the Scott McClellan we knew” line of defense.”

Defenders of George W. Bush have settled upon the most outlandish "best defense is a good offense" approach in response to former press secretary Scott McClellan’s damning insider look at the propaganda machine he was a part of. Their responses , as a defense of the adminstration, are an exercise in distraction. However, it may not change the fact that exploiting the gullibility of a large portion of the American public always worked for them before.

In "Rove Hits Back At McClellan: ‘Sounds Like A Left-Wing Blogger’; Perino, Bartlett, Fleischer Pile On" Jason Linkins (Huffington Post HERE) is updating his column with quotes from the Bush minions dismissing the damning descriptions in McClellan’s book and attacking the author. These attacks boil down to a suggestion that, a bit like the quiet serial killer who lived next door, he had a dark side nobody knew about because he seemed so ordinary and nice. Only in Scott’s case it wasn’t a compulsion to maim and dismember, it was disloyalty.

We, the gullible public, are expected to ignore Scott’s book because he broke the loyalty code?

There’s also the unspoken implication that the Scott they know no longer exists because his mind has been either taken over by an alien being, he’s been brainwashed by left wing bloggers, or perhaps he has had a late adult life onset delusional psychosis. One, Ron Christie (on MSNBC), a former Cheney deputy, even used the words "it’s very crazy" and suggests he stayed in the administration so he could later peddle a book.

So McClennan is either mentally ill or greedy, or both.

That all of this is the public relations equivalent of a military aircraft throwing out chaff to confuse enemy missiles. Air Force One presumably has this capacity.

Now with the American people as the jury judging the Bush administration, let’s just see if they’ll buy this "the Devil made him do it" defense.

Hal Brown has been a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist since 1971. He often brings a psychological perspective to his columns.


  1. JudyB

    In order to be a press secretary for Bush/Cheney, one would have to be content being a well oiled cog in their counterfeit machine. Discontent breeds contempt and thats what we are going to find out over the next few years as book after book is released with behind the scene stories written by insiders to this administration. Working for a liar is never easy, but working with the nations biggest an most prolific liars must be hell on earth.

    “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”

  2. Carl Nemo

    It’s a good thing that Scott hung on as long as he did and kept his mouth shut. It allowed him plenty of time to gather great material for his expose’.

    The real tragedy of these damning, public revelations is that there are not enough honorable men and women in the House or Senate to immediately go for summary, impeachment of Bush and Cheney…! : |

    So in light of a war started on cooked intelligence that’s cost over 4,000 US lives, 30,000 disablements and PTSD suicides; along with millions of displaced Iraqi’s and collateral civilian deaths, this war goes on with even more “deluxe” funding courtesy of Nancy, Harry and their “rethuglican” counterparts…?! /:|

    Truly, this nation has become “The Empire of the Rising Scum”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. griff

    Yeah, we all seem to forget the Democrats were elected and given a mandate to end this war and investigate the perpetrators. As soon as impeachment was taken off the table I knew that the Democrats were more than eager to play the game for political reasons, spending their days playing the innocent and powerless victims of Bush’s Evil Regime, all the while drooling impatiently for his power to become theirs.

  4. pollchecker

    Former Bush Aide: McClellan Is Getting Ripped For Telling The Truth

    One former Bush aide, however, is sticking up for McClellan, arguing that the former Bush press secretary is “getting savaged for saying what everyone knows to be true.”

    Mike Turk served as the eCampaign director for President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. As such, his tenure corresponded with that of McClellan’s. No longer connected to the administration, Turk is now one of the few (if any) voices with connections to that crowd who are saying, quiet simply, that the book “What Happened” is steeped in little more than truth.

  5. old_curmudgeon

    Hmmm. It’s a good thing that McClellan is bringing this stuff out into the open. But let’s not forget that he was there from before the beginning and either drank the cool-aid with everyone else and believed this stuff or he was a coward and an opportunist for keeping his mouth shut. If he had talked to his superiors about misgivings he might have felt during the “Great Lie” you can be sure he would not have remained in the WH long – and he never would have been able to “leave on his own decision” like he supposedly did when he did.

    So, let’s not give him too much credit. I believe he understood what was being done while it was being done and he condoned it by being mum and then when he became the “mouth” lying with a straight face, with conviction.

    Yes, what he is saying now is necessary and is validation to what we who have been paying attention already know. I don’t believe he “came to Jesus” since he left the WH. As someone said last night on the airwaves, he doesn’t have a job and probably needs the money.

    Colin Powell hasn’t written his tellall because he understands that it won’t exonerate his participation and his responsibilities for what happened. Perhaps he’s just waiting for Bush to leave office. I believe he’s also a coward for not speaking out.

    It’s not about being honarable. It’s about caring for this country. It’s about being a Patriot. Not the kind of Patriot this administration has put forward – a true Patriot.

    You don’t need to define a true Patriot – you just know one when you find one.

    But, of course, this is just this old curmudgeon’s opinion…

  6. pollchecker

    Well some people are not willing to give up their entire life’s work over some A-hole until there is no other choice.

    I say to hell with being a patriot. Look out for #1 first. Isn’t that the American way? Find a way to make a buck out of it?

  7. Sandra Price

    We must never overlook the number of Americans who did step up to the plate and were never seen again. It is harder than it looks. When I read of some deeds done by a member of our White House Cabinet and ask about it on a forum, I am ignored. When I read of the same action in another book and check it on Google and bring it to a forum they tell me they knew all about it and I’m too late. It has some thing to do with being the first to expose another. When I wrote a monthly column for Etherzone, I exposed much of what the Clintons and Bush 43’s actions were and was thrown off the front page. I jump in with my opinions and am accurate 90% of the time due to my extensive reading.

    I’ve been asked to join another site as the manager took a look at my old columns and was shocked at the accuracy of my words. I can understand McClelland waiting to get his book in the oven before announcing his findings.

    Too many people are waiting with stones at the ready to be thrown. Had I been smart I would have never written the stuff that I had put on the internet. In all these that I have written, I had one friend stick with me. He was another writer and we often would tear into each other’s words but never did we lose our tempers and never did we resort to the insults thrown so easily around the ‘net. Never would we attack each other’s words using another name. Even here there are game players with their stones just waiting to nail someone else.

  8. griff

    “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” – Mark Twain

  9. Hal Brown

    I must have watched half or more of Scott McClellan’s press conferences and he always struck me as the perfect spokesperson, if not foil, for the puppeteers because he was so down to earth and likable. Was he acting or was he tricked himself.

    Now it seems the answer is half and half. I always wondered whether he was a cunsumate actor or had been drinking the Kool Aid and believed the lies he was deseminating.

    Now his book tell us that at first he was a believer, and in time had to confront the growing evidence he was being lied to. He reluctantly had to give up a deeply held belief that people he felt close too were using him.

    Please excuse my following rare and possibly first sport metaphor but this seems to fit.

    What he seems to have going for him to counter the Bush defensive line as they rush onto the scrimage line against him, the lonely quarterback manning the entire offensive line, is the very quality that they used so well.

    He’s just so damn genuine seeming that it is virtually impossible to think that he’s putting on an act and uttering a bunch of self-serving lies to sell a book.

    Added: As Rachel Madow just said on MSNBC, they seem to be using an "invasion of the body snatchers" approach to discredit McClennan. "Stepford Wives" comes to my mind to describe the loyalists that are sticking with Bush.

  10. pollchecker

    truth can be a dangerous thing. Best to know thy enemy and plan accordingly. As I have previously stated, the Bush’s are not one to cross. George will stab you in the heart and smile the entire time he’s doing it. Karl gets all the blame but too few people really understand the REAL George the man. Narcissim sounds to nice a word for him, Hal.

  11. Direct Democracy

    Pursue the Bush administration beyond January 20 until they are brought to justice.

    Direct Democracy

  12. Carl Nemo

    Never forget that G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney hold the reins of power until January 20, 2009. Since they seem to be going unchallenged by our legislative branch via impeachment they can always spring a martial law surprise post some engineered crisis on this nation and in the blink of an eye turn this nation into a coast to coast internment camp consequences be damned.

    It means no more Constitutional protections what little we have left, the two remaining branches of government suspended indefinitely with martial law; ie., summary, non-appellate based military tribunals as a replacement.

    It means thugs like Blackwater et. al. patrolling America’s streets along with our taxpaid enforcement functions; ie., city, county, state police and the national guard facilitating such draconian orders. Remember these people are trained to simply follow orders and not to question authority.

    If Obama is President Elect it too will mean little to nothing under such conditions and America, now Bushco’s newly metamorphosed AmeriKa is theirs to control absolutely.

    Who’s going to challenge such authority. As long as the so-called “good people”; ie., vapidly grinning shoppers mostly dosed on anti-depressants are packing the malls and running their plastic everything will be fine for them.

    It will be quite easy to pacify, roundup, and quarantine any remaining resistance.

    So I’d advise complacent Americans to not breathe somewhat easy until the chopper is on the Whitehouse lawn January 20,2009 with Bush and his wife waving their last goodbyes to “we the duped” as they exit the capitol for the last time…!

    Bush can then surely say “mission accomplished”; ie.,the greatest heist in the history of the world with he and his associates having gutted the national treasury.

    We the people will be left with nothing but terminal indebtedness, our national wealth having gone into the pockets of the few at the expense of the many…! : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  13. Sandra Price

    Well said Carl! How do we bounce back with some hint of correcting this awful mess? Will a change of Government help or will they simply try to outdo what the GOP did to us? We handed full powers to the President as far too Americans were voting only for American Idol.
    I can only hope the showing of "Recount" will wake up at least some of the voters and maybe Clarke’s and McClelland’s books will wake up others.
    Here in Arizona I am facing the most apathetic group of voters I ever encountered. They even resent my asking about issues!
    Are we doomed as a free nation?

  14. adamrussell

    I havent heard any of those howling in dismay actually say that any of what he wrote is untrue. Seems like the republican party is more concerned with where his loyalties lie than whether the president lied.

  15. Carl Nemo

    Well said Adam Russell and that’s the crux of the issue; ie., that loyalty to a presidential “liar in chief” is far more important than the necessity for truth relative to the American people which he is supposed to represent and protect and is sworn to do so…! : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  16. erika morgan

    Amen; this is the only way we can reassert the “Sovereign Citizenship” that our Founding Fathers created for us!

  17. Paolo

    Scott McClellan’s “revelations” are hardly that to anyone who has been paying attention. You mean, the administration actually ginned up a PROPAGANDA campaign to sell the war? Gosh! What a revelation!

    You mean, the administration actually LIED in order to sell the war? Oh! My heart! What a shock!

    But, if the Democrats in Congress grow a pair of ethics and actually manage to subpoena McClellan and Rove, it might get interesting.

  18. Sandra Price

    Thank you Hal! I was waiting for your commentary on poor old mentally sick Scott. Hell, half the internet calls me deranged too!

    Tonight Keith Olbermann has his shot at Scott by having him on his show Countdown. This should be good! I am waiting for Bush/Cheney/Rice to have a prayer meeting to save Scott’s soul. When the Congress calls poor sick Scott into an inquiry, I can only hope we do not find him in a D.C. Park with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand.

  19. pollchecker

    Thanks for the heads up on Olberman, Sandra. I will be certain to watch this. It ought to be very enjoyable.

    The Bushie attack dogs come out every time the truth rears it’s ugly head. This is no different.

    However, at this point in the game the only people that still believe Karl and the rest of the Bushies are loyalists who have totally crossed over to the dark side. Their creditbility is shot.

    It’s too bad we can’t put everyones books together into one big picture and then perhaps the picture would be clearer.

    Hal, what do you call someone totally self absorbed and can convince himself anything he wants did or did not happen? And they want to say Scott McClelland is mentally unbalanced.

    The truth that the rest of the country is just now beginning to uncover is that for the past 8 years our country has been run by a bunch of greedy corrupt liars that fed them a bunch of bull.

    Yes it is important for the masses to understand this perpetual campaign Scott writes about. It is what is FEEDING our remaining in Iraq!

  20. pollchecker

    Hal, what do you call someone totally self absorbed and can convince himself anything he wants did or did not happen?

    A narcissist. When narcissism rises to the level it is actually a psychiatric diagnosis from Mayo Clinic.

    Does a narcissist use and manipulate people at their pleasure?

  21. WWWexler

    Alas, Scotty, they hardly even knew ye.

    However, we knew THEM and until this book we thought you were part of it. Now you’re confirming what everybody knew.

    It’s fun to watch the GOP ripping each other’s lungs out. A refreshing break from Clinton/Obama.


  22. Flapsaddle

    Discrediting the messenger is the next choice if you cannot actually kill the messenger, and its endemic to any center of imperial power.

    FDR and his court attempted to discredit Charles Lindbergh because he had publicly spoken out against the anti-Hitler actions of the administration. RFK tried to discredit William Manchester because he had said some very unflattering things about JFK in his book, Death of a President. David Halberstam found himself out of favor with the Camelot crowd over his dissection of Camelot in The Best and the Brightest. Does Nixon’s so-called “enemies list” ring a bell? Other than as a campaign strategist, what was James Carville’s principal duty for the Clinton’s other than discrediting any critics? No imperial court likes critics, no matter how benign the imperium.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  23. JerZGirl

    The fact that they are questioning his loyalty and implying that he should have voiced his concerns before tells me that what he says is the truth. Not once have they denied anything said in the book – they only question that he told people.

    Karl Rove’s “left-wing blogger” comment is hilarious given the garbage right-wing bloggers have spewed to discredit and destroy all those who have dared challenge them. (Dan Rather, anyone?)

    I agree with Sandra, though. Someone needs to watch McClellan’s back. There’s no telling who might try to take him down. Me thinks a drunk duck hunter, perhaps?

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain

  24. Flapsaddle

    …implying that he should have voiced his concerns before tells me that what he says is the truth.

    The administration is attempting to handle McClellan’s revelation about the emperor’s wardrobe in the same way that an embarrassed Marshal Joffre handled the inconvenient truth represented by General Charles Lanrezac after the massive French defeat in the “Battle of the Frontiers”* in August, 1914.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

    *See Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August

  25. Hal Brown

    Karl Rove’s "left-wing blogger" comment is hilarious given the garbage right-wing bloggers have spewed to discredit and destroy all those who have dared challenge them.

    Hilarious and somehow gratifying… if he means us left-wing bloggers actually had an transformative impact on someone who was in the administration? Be still my beating heart.

    Arianna Huffington, who really has gone a bit beyond the realm of a mere blogger, writes in response to MeClannan’s "the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

    Great point, Scotty. We and many others made it back in 2003.

    It’s such a great point, it caused Karl Rove to act like something nefarious has happened to McClellan, transforming him from the lie-spouting sock puppet he has "known for a long time" into somebody who "sounds like a left-wing blogger." Have anyone specific in mind, Karl?

    Come on Arianna, perhaps he meant ALL of us small time left-wing bloggers including those of us on CHB combined.


  26. Timr

    Scotty is also the scheduled guest on The Daily Show on the comedy network tonite. Jon Stewert usually does his research, and nails his guest one way or another.

  27. griff

    Another dead horse pinata. Our absurd politics at its finest. I was with the Bushies before I was against the Bushies. Another flash-in-the-pan distraction.

  28. Flapsaddle

    An interesting change of ambiance in the responses, Mr. Brown, now that you are back to expressing a professional therapist’s opinion on the antics of the administration rather than those of Hillary Clinton: No one has seen fit to label you as a “two-bit psychotherapist”, have they?

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  29. JerZGirl

    I will have to check out your reference, T.J. It’s something I’m not familiar with. Always willing to learn!!

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain

  30. JerZGirl

    Ya comprendo!! Yes, definitely – must have been one of the few historical figures Bush ever really took note of!! LOL

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain

  31. Flapsaddle

    It’s especially enjoyable if you like military history without having to learn all of the technical military jargon. An old book – 1957, IIRC – but the winner of a Pulitzer for general nonfiction. Urban legend has it that Kennedy ordered all his WH staff and Cabinet officers who had not read it to do so in order to try and avoid the same pattern of mistakes.

    It goes into great pains to explain the driving political myths – and their military implementation – and just how wrong people can be when they are living in a fantasy land. After you finish it, you will easily understand that terms like “it’ll be a cakewalk” and “they’ll welcome us with flowers” are not FUBARs peculiar to the current squatter(s) in the White House.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle