I can't imagine being Scott McClellan. Can you imagine spending your entire day figuring out how to prevaricate, equivocate, and wink? Surely, he must be on the little purple pill, augmented by occasional Alka-Seltzers and swigs from a handy flask. I have spent some significant time over the past year reading transcripts of McClellan's briefings and gaggles, and writing about some of them when they are particularly outrageous.
Here's a recent one, from the McClellan April 12, 2006 press briefing, wherein he demanded a public apology from the press for its coverage of a story which shows that the administration had information about "biological laboratories" two days before President Bush made his May 29, 2003 statement that "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories."
Specifically, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon, had concluded " ...the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons," a full two days before Bush made his May 29, 2003 declaration.
Whether, in fact, Bush actually had knowledge of this conclusion by his own military establishment, is not the point. What is at issue here is a White House, when confronted with the reality of its mistakes, whether inadvertent omissions or outright lies, never feels compelled to apologize.
Instead of McClellan attacking the messenger, it is incumbent on the Bush administration to correct itself and apologize to the American people for not having shared with them the fact that its own military had concluded the labs had nothing to do with WMD. Even if Bush did not know this two days after the Pentagon reported it, at what point did he know it, and then fail to correct the record, and, thus, his basis for the invasion? Did he find out two days later? a week later? or did he not find out at all, and someone in his administration is guilty of having kept this information from him? Isn't it more likely that he eventually did find out, but, by then, was already so committed that he decided not to share it with us?
No, it is not the press that needs to apologize, or explain, it is Scott McClellan and his boss who need to do all the explaining and apologizing.
Perhaps the most ironic thing McClellan said in this April 12 press briefing, defending the President's apparent lack of knowledge, was this:
"The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency."
Certainly, this White House has not gathered intelligence, despite the fact that the White House is precisely where intelligence needs to gather most so that the president can make informed decisions. If the White House is not the ultimate intelligence gathering site in the government, then who is making decisions and based on what?