Why Scott McClellan Is Like Dilbert

His new book casts his former employer as inept. So why'd he stay to tell the tale?

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Updated on 05/28/08, 5:40 p.m.

Scott McClellan, once the voice of the nation's executive branch and spokesman for the leader of the free world, is just another powerless Dilbert with a lousy manager. That, according to Politico's report on McClellan's new book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception .

Most of us learn at a young age the rather pat phrase: "You're either part of the problem or part of the solution." But in a culture that has a fondness for gray areas and moral relativism, the phrase seems to have lost its applicability. In the workplace—and particularly in the case of McClellan, a former White House press secretary—we've come to prefer "pass the buck."

From Politico:

"I still like and admire President Bush," McClellan writes. "But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.... In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security."

Politico reports that McClellan "charges that Bush relied on 'propaganda' to sell the war." I can only assume that as Bush's mouthpiece, McClellan means that the president, in large part, relied on him to spread propaganda to sell the war. But company men who tout the company line are usually aware that it's a kind of spin. They consciously choose loyalty over perfect principle.

This is the lesson: When it comes to our employers—whether president or popcorn shop owner—we always have a choice. That's the beauty of business. If we don't like what we see, if we don't trust the name on our paycheck, we can leave. Immediately. Americans leave their jobs all the time—for reasons far less significant than being asked to spread war propaganda.

Politico reports that McClellan even passes the buck to the White House press corps, a group that has taken lots of flak for not being tough enough on the Bush administration. But coming from McClellan, it's a little like accusing your company's human resources department of being too easy to deceive: If they checked expense reports more carefully, you would never have made up those bogus business lunches. Alas, I fear that kind of attitude is far too common.


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McClellan, Scott
books

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