Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Happened

I just finished reading the former White House press secretary's book, What Happened. Though I am clearly not a Republican, I have always had a fondness for Scott McClellan. During his tenure as press secretary I read his press briefing transcripts daily. I had mixed feelings though, when I heard he had written a book. I think it's tacky to write a book capitalizing on your job and exposing "company" secrets. In the end though, curiosity got the best of me and I bought the book in an airport on one of my recent trips.

Within the first few pages, and certainly by the end I realized how different his job was to any other position in the world. His was not a a typical job in which you may receive mis-information that you in turn pass along to a small group of coworkers and all is forgotten by the end of the week. He was put in front of the world on a daily basis and part of his job unfortunately involved unknowingly (for the most part) deceiving the entire country. He wrote the book not to capitalize on the experience, but to apologize for it, and in that regard, I respect him for writing his story and attempting to restore the credibility he lost during those years.

I am admittedly a news junky and make a point to get my daily news fix from a variety of U.S. and foreign sources, so I didn't really expect to learn any new information in his book and for the most part I didn't. In regards to the war and the reasons behind our engaging in it, he did mostly just confirm what eventually came out in the media eventually so there was no surprise there, and the same with the Valerie Plame leak, though he did clear up some timeline questions that I'd had regarding that scandal. Most surprising was a relatively small part of the book near the end where I learned more about the federal governments handling (or not handling as the case may be) of Katrina. They were wildly cavalier about the severity of the storm and largely ignored it until way too late in the game. I shouldn't have been surprised though. Time after time the government of the past 8 years has shown a disregard for truth and information and instead has pushed an agenda based on politics and spin. In all fairness though, the 8 years prior to that did the same thing, and, as Scott points out in his book, it's indicative of a large problem in government which is the culture of deception.

Overall I'm happy I gave in and bought the book. Though it definitely has some style problems, he jumps around time-wise and is hard to follow at times, and I could have done without of a few (of the many) personal attacks on Condoleeza Rice, I was glad to have read his side of the story. At the very least it makes me feel at least a little bit better about my own job.

1 comment:

Cheeky said...

Sounds like an interesting read.....