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Mirkat

Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)
Mark Bramhall, Lev Grossman

What Happened

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception - Scott McClellan

Having listened to this as an audio book, I will note that this is an instance where someone really should have convinced the author not to narrate his own book. For some reason, McClellan affects a stilted "reading" pronunciation. Most notably, he reads the article "a" like the letter "a" and does the same thing to every word that starts with an "a" ("about" comes out as "ay-bout," for example). This man needs an infusion of schwas! Out of curiosity, I listened to an NPR interview clip to see whether he pronounces his words that way conversationally, and he does not. It surprises me that someone who spoke publicly on a regular basis, as White House (or "why-douse" in McClellan-speak) Press Secretary, would read in such a stilted way. In any event, a professional narrator or voice actor would have been a much better choice.

As for the content, I often found myself surprised when McClellan reported the shock and dismay he felt when he realized certain prominent members of the Bush administration had lied to him. It's difficult to believe he was ever so credulous, but it seems that he was a true believer, who uttered phrases such as "compassionate conservative" and "uniter, not a divider" without a shade of irony. Much of what he reports about the inner workings of the "why-douse" are not especially surprising, but I admit I was curious. One of McClellan's central themes is that the Bush adminstration fell prey to the practice of being in "permanent campaign" mode, using those
techniques not only for campaigning but also for governing. I couldn't help rolling my eyes whenever he blamed the Clinton administration for setting the "permanent campaign" tone in the first place, though at least he does allow that Bush et. al. took it to new depths.

His final section is about how to fix the problems he outlines in the book. It strikes me as naive that he believes creating a "Deputy Chief of Staff for Governing" position would usher in a new era of openness and transparency. Also, his contention that all administrations need to enlist centrists from both parties reveals more about McClellan's own political proclivities than anything else.

If you are curious about "what happened" behind the scenes in the Bush administration during McClellan's tenure, by all means check this book out from your library. I'd recommend against the audio book, because of the distracting narration, and I'd also recommend against spending money on this narrative.