May 28th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Blitzer: Most explosive charges I can remember

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer"]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - I don’t remember a time when a White House press secretary has written a book and made such explosive charges about a sitting president. That is exactly what Scott McClellan has done in his new book: “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”

Yes, there have been White House insiders who have written books critical of their respective bosses. I remember George Stephanopolous and Robert Reich writing books that came down hard on Bill Clinton and his administration.

But McClellan goes way beyond any of that. He says the war in Iraq was a blunder. He writes that war “should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?

He says President Bush and his senior advisers “confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

And he goes further in charging that President Bush has “always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader” and did not “delve deeply into all the possible policy options.”

McClellan’s aides, including his former boss, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, insist this is not the Scott McClellan they knew and worked with for some ten years. They say he never complained about any of this during his years in the White House.

McClellan is about to start a series of television interviews, including one with me in The Situation Room. He will have a chance to make his case.

I suspect the political fallout from his charges will have ramifications out on the presidential campaign trail, given John McCain’s strong support for the war.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (263 Responses)
  1. H. Franek

    I think Scott McClellan is brave to come out and say these things. He more than anyone else knows the truth about how corrupt this administration is on the inside, and it is about time someone tells it like it is.

    May 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Fred Oneida, Pa


    May 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. Derrick Reid

    If McClellan is now telling the truth about his time in the pay of President Bush, he must have been lying about much of what he said in his press conferences when he was working for the Bush Administration.

    If we were to compare him, to some extent with Tariq Aziz, the Former Iraqi Foreign Minister and the 'public face' of Former Saddam Hussain's Regime, McClellan, does owe the people of the United States and Iraq and the world an explanation as to why he served an Administration which made war on another country, at such a high cost in wastage of human lives, livelihood and national resources.

    Why, Mr McClellan, were you a party to this crime against humanity? Will you now donate some of the profits of your book to the people who have suffered so much as a result of this needless war?

    As a Press Officer you played a very valuable role in making the Bush Administration's duping of the American and internation public. You, like Tariq Aziz, do have some culpability for helping to 'sell' the case for, atleast continuing the war.

    Derrick Reid

    May 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Pat M

    By the time Bush gets over the shock that someone actually dared to call his bluff and worse put it on the stands for all to see – there will be a New President in the White House. And he can hide out on his Crawford Ranch.

    To take such a stand requires much strength and courage. I doubt anyone would make that great leap due to just being diguntled.
    But before tarring and feathering Scott maybe we should read the book, weight the contents as we might find ourselves asking why others were so weak.

    May 28, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Jerry in Fresno

    Where is the outrage over VietIraq?

    Oh! That's right; there is no draft unless you count stop-loss actions.

    How sad; a war lead by a deserter and a draft dodger!

    May 28, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  6. Independent

    All I hear from you Wolf is

    "These people are so poor, and so black..."

    You're a funny man thinking people care what you have to say.

    May 28, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  7. Itoldyouso

    George Bush is a coward and a traitor to this once-great nation. Impeachment is too good for him.

    May 28, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  8. Ernest

    Fools of the same thinking hangs together.

    May 28, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  9. Patrick

    We already know Bush lied and used propaganda! Now even the Bush insiders are seeing the light!

    May 28, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  10. Independent

    Just another guy pissed off at his former boss.

    Apparently the money was good enough to turn in his scruples and values. Now the money is good enough to sell out others.

    And all the hippie peaceniks will jump on it.

    Liberals and democrats apparently have no other purpose than to amuse me with thier inane ideologue. I would hate to be the party of the commoners, what a drag.

    Democrats dream
    Republicans deliver

    Democrats talk
    Republicans walk

    May 28, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Iheanyi Aguwa

    It is unfootunate that most Americans seens to be just realising what the rest of the world already knew for a very long time.Why do you think the former British and Australian prime ministers were given the boot by their people?

    May 28, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  12. carolflowery

    Wolf, are you running for office, whatever happened to your journalist career, dont you think you need to take some refresher courses on your degree, even Barbara Walters says she got out of the buz in news because of the "non-facts_ being reported by just opinions, get a hold of yourself, they will pay you the same money to just report the the news without your bias

    May 28, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. M. Trevino

    For the love of Mary ok "Wolf" stop already! All I have heard since Scott McClellan book was released is "how could he do this or that" "he sold out" " he must have had an out of body expereince" what about the real issue that we the American people were lied to by our president. Stop shooting the messenger! By the way did the media fail to do its job regarding going into war? Hell ya!

    May 28, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. SA in OO

    Nicely said "Where Were YOU" (above). ! ! !

    It isn't just the media, though. The proverbial "people" have to be willing to read, and delve into the issues to become informed voters. The majority, like the president they elected twice, are simply too lazy. They are far more comfortable relying on their "instincts", reinforced by the biased commentary of spin doctors in the media who share their prejudices.

    May 28, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. richardh

    McClellan oftentimes looked bothered when he was a spokesperson - as if he knew that what was coming out of his mouth was inconsistent with what he personally thought to be true. He kept his own feelings largely in check. Now he is trying to make peace with himself (and probably, some serious bucks!).

    McCain didn't start this war and he didn't execute it either. I seriously doubt that he would have been even remotely as reckless as Bush. He is the only remaining candidate that has core American values. He is the only real hope we have at resolving EXISTING problems.

    I've voted Democrat ever since Bush Sr. proved to be a weak leader, but McCain's got my vote for sure this time around. We need real experience, not a bunch of empty pie-in-the-sky dreams. That's BS.

    Bush Jr. and Cheney have done serious harm to our stature (even our money), but let's not let that lead us to an even bigger mistake. THINK!

    May 28, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  16. David D Kollie

    Wolf, the best question that is need to be asked is, why has the Bush's administration experienced too many resignations especially Presidential Press Secreataries?
    Some of those press secreataries gave face value excuses to not make the Bush's administration look rediculous on the outside. But the American people now the truth anyway had McClellan not written his experience in the White House under Bush.

    May 28, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. Lisa Williams

    McClellan is telling the truth in his book, of course the white house will disagree. Impeached, that is too good for BUSH, We need a Dem in the White House to clean up this awful mess. We need lower gas and food prices. We need a President that is for the people of America not just his family. We the Americans are the voters of the President "Let's Vote for Someone who cares and can make change and provide us the tax payers, the one's who pay their salaries with decent Healthcare benefits. McSame, the name says it all Folks


    May 28, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  18. James

    My question is for Scott McClellan. To your knowledge prior to Bush's election as President, and during his time as Governor of Texas, were there any indications of a pre-planned agenda to invade Iraq ?

    May 28, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. Robin in Florida

    Somehow I'm not really shocked by McClellan's revelations ... it's like he's revealing anything new about Bush that isn't already common knowledge to the general public.

    May 28, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |


    May 28, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. OH

    McClellan better hide as no security cover will protect him. He should know that speaking out only place him in range of their snipers.

    By now everyone on Earth knows the war is not/was not justified and that they lies while good men and women died.

    So much for the oil they thought they would have all to themselves. So much for the one trillion being spent in Iraq.

    So much for the poor people who have to repay for their blunder while their own children will NEVER see Iraq.

    At least the English have better judgment and the Royal Kids are eager to fight; not so for the shameful American politicians.

    Funny how Bush daughter got married recently and publized world over while the sons and daughters of the poor are dying in Iraq daily.

    This must be the America we thought was equal; big mistake. Hey!!! Why is it that Powell has said nothing? We know he knew it was all lies...

    May 28, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Pam - Long Beach, CA

    Like almost everyone else, I find these revelations to be only confirmations of what I concluded years ago.

    Bush had high approval ratings and a machine that did an excellent job of destroying anyone who gotin his way. The war was pitched in a way that painted anyone against it as a coward or unAmerican. The news media was cowed and Congress had a Republican majority. Bush got whatever he wanted.

    Several months ago I wrote to my Congressman, Senators and Nancy Polisi about impeachment. I received only one response – that they had better things to do.

    May 28, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Jane L.

    I haven't read the book, but I doubt that it doesn't say too much about the country or the news media that most of the country didn't already know. There seems to be something the news shows don't get. Many of their viewers are more savvy than their journalists, and our understanding of current events is not dependent on their reports. Witness the millions (a majority) of democratic voters who have maintained steadfast support for Sen. Clinton, despite a severely Obama-biased news media.

    May 28, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. John Dickey

    Aslk McClellan why he didn't resign.

    May 28, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. tigerakabj

    All I have to say about McClellan is better late than never. And it is good evidence to use against McCain for Obama.

    And to those asking for impeachment, that won't be enough. The damage has been done. Nuremberg Round 2 is more appropriate. Broadcast it internationally too.

    How fitting too b/c Bush's grandfather was Prescott Bush, who financially supported the Nazis and we know what happened to them.

    May 28, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
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