. . . to Scott McClellan? I’m not going to waste a single minute reading his book looking for insight, but it does prompt reference to a great one-sentence summary: "This is the book of a smart-aleck, seemingly devoid of any sense of honor."
While that sentence fits McClellan, it was actually written in 1986 by James Q. Wilson to describe David Stockman’s anti-Reagan book The Triumph of Politics. Therein lies a lesson in the insubstantiality of McClellan’s book and the wider controversy surrounding it. At least Stockman’s dishonorable book dealt with serious questions of policy. Stockman’s problem was his "intellectual promiscuity" (Wilson again); no one doubted his intelligence and ability, though some of his weaknesses have apparently persisted in his business career and landed him in serious legal trouble today. McClellan has merely confirmed his lightweight status. Stockman merely showed that for all his brilliance he didn’t really understand politics very well, as the thesis of his book was that he was "shocked, shocked" that politics would intrude on his admirable budget-cutting designs. That said, there is much to be learned from Stockman’s disreputable book. McClellan is now "shocked, shocked" that a president would resort to persuading the American people through political rhetoric (a less pejorative term than "propaganda") to support his foreign policy. The difference here is that, unlike Stockman, McClellan doesn’t even rise to the level of "smart-aleck."