An open letter to Scott McClellan on dealing with the world's Lamar Smiths

by JS O’Brien

Dear Mr. McClellan:

Let me just start by saying that I don’t like you.  You are part of a fraternity of yes-men, mouthpieces, and belly-crawling boot-lickers spawned by Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, the father of public relations, and author of the seminal work, Propaganda.  Like you, Bernays helped some of the most despicable organizations and people get their way by manipulating public opinion

So, now you’re repentant, are you?  I suppose that’s something.  It doesn’t absolve you any more than it absolved Lee Atwater when he apologized on his death bed for being one of you, but it probably drops you a notch below Joseph Goebbels in the Public Relations Society of America’s Hall of Heroes.  Maybe if you devote the rest of your life to good works, you’ll come back as E. coli.Â

It’s the most you can hope for.

Despite my personal revulsion, I’m going to give you a piece of advice on how to handle the Lamar Smiths of the world when they come right out and call you a Judas, as the Republican Congressman from Texas’ 21st district, and a Republican (have I already mentoned that?), did when he said:

While we may never know the answers, Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver.

I’m going to give you this piece of advice, because for once in that malodorous, oozing pustule you call a life, you have done something good.  Maybe you have learned, albeit way too late in life, that being a toady to a regime that thinks the rule of law is only for those who don’t agree with them on every political issue is not a great way to run a society your children have to live in.  Perhaps there’s a small kernel of your soul still alive in the blackened, twisted wreckage you’ve made of the rest of it.

When Lamar Smith, or any other person with Lamar Smith’s leanings, comes at you again with a remark like that, here’s what you say:

Congressman, I won’t have to wrestle with this at all.  I did all my wrestling some time ago, and I’m very comfortable with the side of me that won the match.Â

That side began by asking where my highest political loyalty lies, and it was an insidiously difficult and painful question for me.  You see, I’ve studied the Nixon years, and I’ve found that those who came forward and enumerated President Nixon’s crimes – his misuse of the sacred power granted him by the American people who trusted him not to misuse it – were accused of the same sort of disloyalty that I’m being accused of.  And I’ve come to understand that they were, in fact, disloyal to President Nixon in the same way that I’m being disloyal to President Bush.

I’ve also come to understand, Congressman, that the world is full of conflicting loyalties.  All of us are disloyal to someone or something during our lives, if only to be loyal to something else.  And that’s where the good side of me won out.Â

You see, when I realized that I was very loyal to the American people, to our history, to our ideals, and to the embodiment of those ideals in the US Constitution, and that I was very loyal to the people who risk their lives to defend her and us, our soldiers and intelligence gatherers in the CIA, I found I could no longer serve both loyalties.  I had to betray one or the other, and I chose President Bush.

I cannot make that choice for anyone else, Congressman, and if your choice is different from mine, then so be it.  But I will not change my mind.  I am clear now:  My highest political loyalty is to the United States of America, and if I must betray those who betray her, then that is what I must do.

And that is what I have done.Â

I regret that I could not be loyal to both President Bush and the United States, but that is not my fault.  He forced a choice, and I chose.






10 replies »

  1. JS: Another fine post.

    Although, I understand he didn’t do the book for lofty ideals and patriotism, he did it for the money. Maybe I’m old school, but ratting out your friends makes you a rat…..and nobody respects a rat.

    Like him or hate him, one should respect G. Gordon Liddy because he took the full punishment and never ratted anyone out. That takes character….misguided perhaps, but character, nonetheless.


  2. Jeff:

    Exactly how many laws, and what laws, should we allow those to whom we are loyal to break before we “rat them out”?

  3. G. Gordon Liddy found it easy and expedient to keep his mouth shut and do the time,after all; he could hold his hand over a burning candle to get laid…he could cool his heels awhile, be the hero and spend it writing his book.
    The Bush administration is full of Rats…wait and see there won’t be any heros there JR

  4. If the two of you can arrive at a working algorithm for the impartial judgment of treachery, I’ll be impressed.

  5. If you expose law breakers, especially in high office, you are doing your duty. A person exposing undercover soldiers working for the benefit of the nation ( on our side) for petty personal reasons is a rat.

  6. give him waay too much credit; “it probably drops you a notch below Joseph Goebbels “.. I think that spot is already reserved for Rove…


  7. Ingrid:

    Two can occupy a single notch.

    And I’d put Rove a notch above Goebbels ;-).

  8. OH, Lamar Smith. For a second there, I thought you were crediting McC with enough hipness to be on personal terms with Lavay Smith.

  9. And I’d put Rove a notch above Goebbels ;-).

    YIKES.. I learned all about the WW2 (coming from Holland) and that is enough to give me the heeby jeebies.. (sp??).. seriously, and it’s not just from what he’s done but what he will still want to accomplish..


  10. Yeah, Ingrid. Americans often forget that most of the US has never, ever experienced total defeat and occupation by a foreign power. Only Southerners and Amerinds and, to a lesser degree, some of the peoples of Tejas, the Southwest, and California who were living under Mexican rule when the US took over have cultural memories of that. I can imagine that the Nazis, who are really a bit of an abstraction to most Americans, are a much more powerful and horrifying presence to the people of the Netherlands.

    BTW, I live in Colorado near a town named “Nederland.” It’s a bit over 8,000 feet high.

    Someone had a sense of humor.