What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception by Scott McClellanI'm currently reading What Happened, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's 323-page stab in the back to the Bush administration. The book wasn't supposed to be out until June 1, but the publisher lifted the embargo yesterday and I grabbed a copy at Barnes & Noble.

Current and former Bush administration officials are playing dumb on McClellan's motive for writing the book, but he makes it crystal clear in the preface: Valerie Plame leakers in the White House used him to pass along lies to hide the truth and save their own asses, and Scotty don't play that way.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, Vice President Cheney, the president's chief of staff Andrew Card, and the president himself.

For my next two years as press secretary, the false words I uttered at that Friday's briefing would stand as the official White House position on the Plame case.

I'll say more on the book later, since I'm just 66 pages in, but the chapter where McClellan tells his life story makes him sound hopelessly out of his depth as a senior White House official. In a place you'd normally expect a 40-year-old man to describe the intellectual and professional accomplishments that had brought him to such an esteemed position in government, McClellan focuses almost entirely on his childhood.

He mentions that he graduated in the "with honors in the top 20 percent" of his high school class, waged an unsuccessful battle to stop his University of Texas fraternity from paddling, guided his high-school tennis team to second place in state, visited Six Flags over Georgia, and dated a Hispanic in elementary school. He even names her.

Before she lost interest in me, my smart, pretty sixth grade girlfriend was Camille Mojica, a Hispanic girl. Such a relationship was considered unusual in those days.

Mojica appears to have grown up to be a science reporter. Apparently they had a lot of chemistry.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

Apparently they had a lot of chemistry.

Zing! The only thing I heard about McLellan's book on the radio was the part where he said Bush told him he wasn't sure if he had tried blow or not, he was at some pretty wild parties and it was possible (which was bullshit, of course he did blow, everyone did during that era). Scotty said he couldn't imagine not remembering something like that, which seems pretty odd considering he was in a frat at UT. He was forced to be effed up enough to not remember things like that when he was a pledge.

He couldn't have been too popular in school if he really did try to outlaw paddling. When I was at UT in the early '80s, the frat boys paddled the sh*t out of each other and the paddlees seemed to be kind of proud of their black and purple rumps. One of my friends became instantly legendary for trading swats with the biggest active in his frat (you had to get 50 signatures on your massive, heavy, leather-backed paddle to become an active, and trading swats didn't count toward that), and after enduring a mighty wallop from the enormous active, he hit him back so hard that the guy passed out. Good times . . .


 

Sadly, we know who leaked Plame - it was Armitage. So this is yet another "I'm important, they all lied but I have honor" BS book, just like countless others that have come before, from former administration officials (pick your favorite, or least favorite, administration).


 

So far, it's not that self-celebratory. McClellan's tone is more "we failed and here's why we failed."


 

The comedic psychosexual aspect of sexually "mature" frat "men" paddling each other in stylized ancient homoerotic initiation rites is definitely an overflowing well of cathartic entertainment.


 

Scotty has his 40 pieces of silver now.

I wouldn't wish the presidency on my worst enemy, there is no more thankless a job.


 

The comedic psychosexual aspect of sexually "mature" frat "men" paddling each other in stylized ancient homoerotic initiation rites is definitely an overflowing well of cathartic entertainment.

Yeah, it doesn't get much gayer than UT fraternities during the '80s. I was asked to pledge twice but one look around the room assured me that I'd be kicked out on day one when I punched the first guy who ordered me around in the face. Somehow a number of my friends survived the hellishness and I don't doubt it instilled a feeling of brotherhood in each pledge class as they endured horrors together. But that's pretty small consolation.

I think the worst hazing story I ever heard was not one where people were physically harmed, but mentally tortured. At the end of hell week at one frat (one of the less brutal in terms of hazing), whereupon the pledges have had maybe ten hours of sleep total and have been beaten, forced to drink heroic amounts of alcohol, and made to do ridiculous amounts of physical exercise just to torture them, each pledge was led blindfolded into a small, stinking, hot room with as much dog shit as the actives could find on paper plates all over the place. They were forced to kneel in front of a toilet and told to put their hands out in front of them, and put what turned out to be a banana covered in peanut butter in them. Then they were told "This is the last thing you will be asked to do. Eat this for your fraternity!"

If they made any move to do so, they were immediately kicked out.


 

Hazing? Join the military.

My first week in Germany when I was in the army (1987) these dudes took me and another new guy out to 'party'. They got us stoned out of our minds on hash (I hadn't smoked in almost a year) and then held a gun to our head and told us that they had found out we were CID sent to investigate their drug smuggling ring.

They held down my fellow new guy and pulled the trigger on the empty gun when he 'refused' to admit to being a CID agent, he fainted and then they made a big show about loading the hand gun so they could finish the job. Kopua (the other new guy) ran into the woods screaming and I just sat there, then they started laughing and told me they were just kidding.

Kopua was to afraid to come out of the woods and we ended up leaving him about 20 miles from base, but the dudes became my best freinds.

Hazing? It happens.


 

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