Thursday, April 20, 2006

Walking the White House Plank

By Sidney Blumenthal

The resignation of the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, is an event of almost complete insignificance except insofar as the beleaguered White House presents it as an important change. Meanwhile, the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, under siege from dissenting ex-generals demanding his firing for arrogant incompetence, stays.

McClellan is a flea on the windshield of history. On the podium, he performed his duty as a slow-flying object swatted by a frustrated and flustered press corps. Inexpressive, occasionally inarticulate and displaying a limited vocabulary, his virtue was his unwavering discipline in sticking to his uninformative talking points, fending off pesky reporters, and defending the president and all the president's men to the last full measure of his devotion. Inside the Bush White House, he was a non-player, a factotum, the instrument of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist and deputy chief of staff. McClellan played no part in the inner councils of state. He was the blank wall erected in front of the press to obstruct them from seeing what was on the other side. McClellan's stoic fa├žade was unmatched by a stoic interior. He was a vessel for his masters, did whatever he was told, put out disinformation without objection, and was willing to defend any travesty. He is the ultimate dispensable man.

Events that could truly shake the Bush White House to its foundation, however, may be discerned elsewhere. On Monday, in Chicago, a jury found former Republican governor George Ryan guilty of 18 counts of corruption. His trial was the climax of a nine-year investigation that had yielded 75 convictions, including some of the most powerful figures in the Republican party of Illinois. The federal investigation, dubbed Operation Safe Roads, began by looking into bribery for driver's licenses. Over time, prosecutors systematically uncovered broader and deeper patterns of corruption reaching up to the governor's office. Patiently, they built their cases until they reached the top.



At Thursday, April 20, 2006 8:50:00 AM , Blogger Van said...

I'm going to miss Scotty's evasive style.

The White House should hire Steven Colbert. He has as much journalistic integrity as T. Snow.


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