What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception
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In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history, McClellan provides unique perspective on what happened and why it happened the way it did, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, Washington's bitter partisanship, and two hotly contested presidential campaigns. He gives readers a candid look into who George W. Bush is and what he believes, and into the personalities, strengths, and liabilities of his top aides. Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this presidency offers the American people as we prepare to elect a new leader.
extract from him: an acknowledgment, one year after the fact, that his decision to go into Iraq was a mistake. That’s why, unwilling to make any such admission, his response had morphed into yet another justification of the invasion, even though this was exactly the opposite of what Dickerson had asked. As we were walking out of the East Room at the end of the press conference and moving briskly to catch up with the president, Dan Bartlett and I conversed in muted tones. We both agreed that the
for me, I think he exemplified what it means to be a team player. He looked out for the interests of the man he served, as well as the country to whom both had sworn allegiance, with great care and wisdom. It was a mistake not to find a way to keep him around. Condi Rice is hard to get to know. She plays her cards close to the vest, usually saving her views for private discussions with Bush. Over time, however, I was struck by how deft she is at protecting her reputation. No matter what went
wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands clean, even when the problems related to matters under her direct purview, including the WMD rationale for war in Iraq, the decision to invade Iraq, the sixteen words in the State of the Union address, and postwar planning and implementation of the strategy in Iraq. Some say she should have pushed harder to heed the threat warnings and focus the White House on terrorism prior to 9/11. Although she has been the president’s top foreign policy adviser
president in 2000 promising a “humble” foreign policy that would avoid the temptation of nation building and instead focus on the immediate security interests of America. The idea of transforming the Middle East coercively contradicted this promised humility, and it would be very difficult for the president and his administration to sell to the citizens. It would provoke all kinds of debates that might not be easy to win—and that in the aftermath of the invasion in Iraq have now received more
Washington media were enlivened and energized by the prospect of a hotly contested political duel. With the president’s credibility being questioned, an increasingly costly war and an economic recovery yet to show any job creation, his popularity was beginning to sag, and the number of Americans who viewed him unfavorably was growing. This in turn affected the tenor of media coverage, a common occurrence in the era of the permanent campaign. When a president is up in the polls, he tends to be