View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


The Scott McClellan imbroglio

Right About Now

Posted: June 20, 2008 1:42 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.
The noise made by Scott McClellan's recently released book only slightly surprises me - the slight part being attributed to the fact that I never saw him as a snake, merely as an incompetent. And I so advised the president in a letter I wrote him in March 2006, a copy of which is the focal point of this column:

Dear President Bush:

At the outset I want to note that I am, and have been, a staunch Bush supporter, and I think that you have not only done some wonderful things for the country, but, in doing so, you have leaned over backward to be fair to the Democrats (a courtesy for which you have not only been unrewarded, but for which you have been reviled; I suggest that further courtesies would not only be unnecessary but ill-advised). I doubt if you will see this letter or, in the event that it might reach someone who has your ear, that you will hear of it. Nonetheless, I feel the need to reach out to you - not just for my sake, but, at the risk of seeming immodest, for the sake of the country. Sir, I believe that we - Republicans (particularly conservatives, in whose number I count myself) - are in trouble. And you, and only you, have the power to either eliminate, or, at the very least, greatly diminish, our problems (and, sooner or later, yours).

The war on terror is going very well; you are to be congratulated for our progress. The economy has probably not been this good for 25 years. And, your selection of judges (with the exception of the Harriet Miers speed bump) has been wonderful. Yet, if we look only to the mainstream media (the source of much of the country's information), one might think that the war is going terribly, the economy is on the verge of disaster and your judges are right-wing nuts. Why is this? Because you, sir, have done one thing wrong: while doing the right thing, you have been parsimonious in telling the country about these accomplishments.

You have two tools - two very powerful tools - at your disposal: the veto and the bully pulpit. The former you have not used at all, letting things as useless - nay, dangerous - as McCain-Feingold and prescription drugs become law. The latter you use so sparingly as to give one the impression that it is surrounded by an electrified fence. And, even then, you only use it after your opposition has beaten you about the head and shoulders, i.e. in a defensive manner. I have rarely, if ever, seen you go on the offensive. It is costing us, sir. By failing to educate the public with regard to what you are doing and have done, you allow the media and the democrats to define you. Needless to say they are less than fair, let alone generous, in doing so.

In addition, not only do you shrink from public relation efforts to support your various causes, you assign this function - public relations - to someone who is so demonstrably unqualified to perform this task that it is tragic. I refer, of course, to Scott McClellan, who is probably the worst public relations figure I have ever seen; I can't imagine anyone more improperly cast in life. If you were to look up pathetically weak in the dictionary, I am convinced you would find his picture. And, please don't misunderstand; I'm sure that he is a decent human being, and, in all likelihood, well qualified to do 1,000 things; unfortunately, public relations is not one of them. I also realize that in criticizing him it is likely that you - because of your deep sense of loyalty - will come to his defense, cementing him in place. He is quite simply a public relations train wreck.

This is something I have never understood - we invented Madison Avenue, and we have extraordinarily limited political PR skills. This is doubly confounding since we are on the right side of virtually every issue, and the Democrats are philosophically bankrupt. They're firing blanks and winning because we refuse to unholster our guns. If we go down in either 2006 and/or 2008, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Years ago, at the start of your 2000 campaign, I wrote you a lengthy letter, offering my services (together with, what was for me, a fairly substantial contribution). In the letter, I raised the question "how come the Democrats do a better job of marketing lies than we do of telling the truth?" Since then, the answer has become apparent to me - we barely market at all, and then only under duress when we are under siege. This is a disheartening mistake - one which could cost us dearly in 2006 (and, worse yet, in 2008, when the White House is once again up for grabs).

Our back is to the wall - 2006 could be a very serious problem, and 2008 could be a disaster. If you were to more fully embrace and utilize the bully pulpit (which, by the way, you do quite well) and augment your efforts with a McClellan replacement, I believe that we could hold onto our gains in both elections. Permit me one observation: I can afford to be wrong - indeed, I hope that I am. You don't have that luxury. If the Dems take either House in the Fall, your last 2 years could prove to be quite difficult; if they take both Houses, your last 2 years would be a nightmare. If, because of your doing nothing to enlighten the public as to how good things really are, they take back the White House in 2008 (via your newly adopted sister-in-law) in the middle of a war, America is in deep trouble.

I have only two requests: Hit the stump in support of your proposals and your fellow Republicans, and please, get rid of Scott McClellan - he's incredibly inept!! I cannot tell you how grateful I (and, I strongly suspect, the great majority of Republicans) would be if you would only consider the points that I have advanced in this letter. Thanking you for your possible consideration of my thoughts and wishing you (and our Party) the best of luck in the near future, I remain,

Kenneth C. Eliasberg

* * * * *

Of course Bush is to be faulted as well in this matter for having selected an incompetent weakling and a pathetic loser like McClellan in the first place. Loyalty is a wonderful quality, but it is no substitute for initially making the right selection. People like McClellan and Alberto Gonzales or Supreme Court selections like Harriet Miers reflect badly on the judgment of the person picking them for high offices.

And, of course, McClellan, for whatever reason - disgruntled ex-employee or just someone with a disloyal streak - has come back to bite Bush on the rump. Do you think that the fact that this is an election year had anything to do with McClellan getting his book out on the street at this time? This sorry, wimpy snake will make a lot of money on this book, will be the darling of the left for the balance of the election season, and thereafter won't find a job or a friend on either side of the aisle.

Ken Eliasberg was a 24-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley before he moved to Upland, where he now resides. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republicans.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...