ABC News:

“In an encounter last night in the lobby of a New York Hotel, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan apologized for denouncing a former White House colleague, Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism advisor, after Clarke wrote a book highly critical of the Bush administration in 2004.

Now McClellan is facing a similar denunciation from the White House for his own highly critical book.

“I should have known how personal it would get when they went after me, well, I mean, after what I said about you”, Clarke says McClellan told him in the lobby of New York’s Essex House.

“I think I can forgive you now”, Clarke says he replied.

“I’d like to ask you to”, McClellan reportedly answered.”

I have mixed feelings about McClellan. As best I can tell, what changed his mind about the Bush administration was having Rove and Libby completely destroy his credibility (what there was of it) by lying to his face so that he could repeat their lies in public. That was, in fact, a terrible thing to do. But, as this encounter makes clear, it’s not as though McClellan didn’t know that people were having their good name savaged by the White House. It’s not even as though he had not willingly participated in that savaging. But he never seems to have thought that it could happen to him.

That’s a hard thing, and part of me sympathizes. But another part thinks: you should figure out what’s wrong with trashing someone and destroying his credibility when you do it to someone else. You shouldn’t have to wait until it happens to you.

That said, better late than never, I guess. I can only hope that some of the people who once defended this administration are open-minded enough to notice how many erstwhile members of the Bush administration have come out with memoirs saying essentially the same thing, and how the administration trots out essentially the same talking points against all of them. You’d think that if so many ex-White House people were “disgruntled former employees”, that might raise questions about whether something in the White House had given them cause to be disgruntled. And you might wonder why, if all of them had somehow gone insane or been eaten up by bitterness or were trying for massive book payments, they all came out with the same set of criticisms.

One can only hope.

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