He was a spokesman for the chief. He traveled with him, conversed with him, shared meals and confidences with him, was certainly one of his closest friends. He learned from him, believed in him, benefited greatly from the association — and, when asked, would try to explain him and his mission to others.
He was trusted. He was identified with the chief, and he basked in that. Oh, he didn’t go along with everything the chief did, and he didn’t fully understand all he said, but he tried to faithfully represent the man and what he was doing, and he profited greatly from it.
But a time came when he lost confidence and sensed that the loss might be mutual, that the chief didn’t fully trust him either. Looking around for one last means of profiting from the relationship, he offered to betray his friend to the highest bidder, to sell him out. And of course, his friend being very high profile and quite controversial, he took a big fee for the betrayal.
His name was Judas.
Look back over what I’ve just said, and see if I’ve exaggerated or misapplied what Scott McClellan has done to President George W. Bush.
Of course, Bush isn’t Jesus, but that’s not the point; I’m referring to the role McClellan played as White House press secretary. The point would be the very same, no matter who was president.
The press secretary is an employee. He, by job description, speaks for the president and the administration. He’s not an investigative reporter; he’s not held accountable for what any of his employers say or do — his job is simply to voice their positions (as they state them), say where they’re going and what they say they intend to do, and try to maintain friendly relations with the constantly adversarial media. He’s a “mouthpiece,” a conduit, for what the administration wants the press and the general public to know.
That’s his job, no more and no less. He’s not to speak for himself, or critique the president or anybody in the Cabinet. Normally, who cares what he thinks, anyway? He has no official capacity, he wasn’t elected, he has only partial awareness of what’s going on in all those offices; to a real extent, he mainly knows only what he’s told. And he accepts his paycheck for telling the press, in those visible and closely watched conferences, only what he’s been told — and paid — to tell them.
Of all high profile jobs in government, it must be the most cushy. You don’t have to make all the crucial decisions, you don’t bear the responsibility, you don’t take the heat for choices your employers make — you just relate what you’ve been told, and let the chips fall where they may. You become very well known, will likely go on to other nice jobs, and you get paid quite well for being the messenger.
Very much like the mailman, though much more glamorous.
So what happened to Scott McClellan? Although many who were there in the White House flatly dispute his accounts, he says he became disenchanted with the president and those around him. He lost confidence in our chief, and felt he was being used to pass along information that wasn’t always truthful. Being a paragon of virtue and honesty himself, he felt he couldn’t conscientiously perform his duties anymore, so he says he resigned.
So far, so good. An honorable man might do exactly that. Just quit taking the paychecks, and walk away. If he really, as a fervent patriot, felt the president was leading the country into greater danger, he might call a press conference himself to explain his resignation. Or he might more likely just look for another job and keep his “disillusionment” to himself.
After all, the things he felt he relayed dishonestly had already transpired, couldn’t be undone; and talking publicly about them would accomplish nothing — except to further harm the president.
At the least, he’d wait till his chief left office before he wrote some “expose,” not wanting to cripple the leader of the free world.
The last thing an honorable man, a patriot, would do is publicly undermine the character and leadership of our nation’s commander in chief while we’re at war. No patriot would knowingly aid and abet our enemies, the ones who’ve killed over 4000 of our fellow citizens and are determined to kill more of us, by proclaiming to the world that our president is a liar, a fraud, incompetent, and willing to send those under his command into futile, unjustified danger.
But a dishonest, unpatriotic man might do all that, especially if he could find some of his chief’s domestic enemies who would pay him a lot of money to do it. And those to whom he offered his patriotism-for-hire would want him to write the most destructive, devastating account he could fabricate; and then together they’d time the publication’s release when it might harm the president as much as possible during his last months in office.
Why, it might even ensure that the Republican Party and its candidate would also suffer defeat in the coming elections!
Who cares how many other young Americans might die because of the encouragement the former trusted representative gave the terrorists?
And naturally, a grateful media would jump all over the book, portraying its author as a dutiful citizen who just couldn’t sell his soul for a paycheck but would betray his president for a much larger royalty check.
After all, hadn’t they too put profit above the national interest, in spades, with the “leaking” of the Abu Ghraib incident when it was classified information already being corrected and disciplined by our military authorities? Again, patriotism and loyalty and national unity be damned . . . let’s get the president! And out of Iraq no matter who gets hurt! The Dixie Chicks forever!
Go on all the talk shows, Scott, and try to convince everybody you acted out of conscience and duty and greater loyalty; exult over the 30 pieces of silver as they pour in; and dream about getting a good job from someone who might still trust you.
I’m not suggesting you, like the other Judas, just go out and hang yourself. You’ve already done that.
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