What Happened: Inside the Bush Administration White House and Washington's Culture of Deception. By Scott McClellan. New York: Public Affairs, 2008. Photographs. Index. Pp. 341. $27.95 ISBN: 1-58648-556-6
Scott McClellan, White House deputy press secretary and, later, press secretary during much of the Bush presidency, presents in his personal account of those highly charged years of controversy--one of several White House insider books thus far to emerge from the George W. Bush administration. His role within the White House often afforded a first-hand view of Bush's presidential decision making, especially where the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq, the Plame affair, and the Katrina catastrophe are of special interest.
This book may simply be an apologia, accounting for the role that he played as the most visible spokesman for what had become one of the most unpopular administrations in American history. His wish to clear the air is understandable in light of the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the Press Corps for his unwitting defense, during the Plame affair, of two of the administration's top insiders: Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. This defense was shattered during a formal investigation, leaving McClellan in its wake with little or no credibility.
The first part of the book is devoted to McClellan's immersion in Texas politics, beginning as a child beside his mother during her successful career in the world of state politics. He also recounts his all-around successes in college life, academics, sports, and campus politics. He became an aspiring politico in Texas politics as a press secretary, chief of staff, and campaign manager.
McClellan came on board with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush--a leader he held in high regard--when Bush sought the presidency. McClellan believed Bush was the man to make a difference in Washington, where the "permanent campaign" of partisan politics was...