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

Overview

Scott McClellan was one of a few Bush loyalists from Texas who became part of his inner circle of trusted advisers, and remained so during one of the most challenging and contentious periods of recent history. Drawn to Bush by his commitment to compassionate conservatism and strong bipartisan leadership, McClellan served the president for more than seven years, and witnessed day-to-day exactly how the presidency veered off course.

In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written ...

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

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Overview

Scott McClellan was one of a few Bush loyalists from Texas who became part of his inner circle of trusted advisers, and remained so during one of the most challenging and contentious periods of recent history. Drawn to Bush by his commitment to compassionate conservatism and strong bipartisan leadership, McClellan served the president for more than seven years, and witnessed day-to-day exactly how the presidency veered off course.

In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history, McClellan provides unique perspective on what happened and why it happened the way it did, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, Washington's bitter partisanship, and two hotly contested presidential campaigns. He gives readers a candid look into who George W. Bush is and what he believes, and into the personalities, strengths, and liabilities of his top aides. Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this presidency offers the American people as we prepare to elect a new leader.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Scott McClellan was there: From 2003 to 2006, he served as White House press secretary, functioning daily as one of President Bush's inner circle. What Happened is neither a conventional apologia or a critique: "This is not a book to settle scores or enhance my own role, for better or worse…as a member of the President's senior staff. What I want to do is write in detail about what I know and what I learned in hopes that this account will place the events of the time, particularly after September 11, 2001, into a framework that make sense to me, to readers and later, to historians." To achieve his purpose, McClellan writes candidly about the president, the vice president, and their advisers; Iraq and the war on terror; Congress and the media.
Seattle Times
The former press secretary of President Bush (No. 43 version) empties out his notebooks, and all of Washington will be holding its breath.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586485566
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 989,579
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott McClellan served as White House press secretary from 2003 to 2006. before that he served as the principal deputy White House press secretary and as traveling press secretary for the bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. Earlier in his career, Mr. McClellan served as deputy communications director in the Texas governor's office and campaign manager for three successful statewide campaigns. He is now a senior adviser to a global technology firm and communications strategist. Born in Austin, Texas, he now lives near Washington, D.C.

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Read an Excerpt

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

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, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 A Made-for-Washington Scandal 1

2 A Small Part of Something Grand 11

3 Growing Up in Politics 21

4 Governor Bush Runs for President 39

5 The Permanent Campaign 61

6 The Early Days 87

7 September 11 and the Partisan Ceasefire 99

8 Selling the War 119

9 Becoming White House Press Secretary 149

10 Deniability 165

11 Betting the Presidency 191

12 Brush Fire 213

13 Triumph and Illusion 233

14 Revelation and Humiliation 255

15 Out of Touch 271

16 After the Trial 293

17 Changing the Culture of Deception 311

Acknowledgments 325

Index 327

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Enlightened

    My take on Scott McClellen is that he's a smart guy who was disappointed by the people he believed in. I thought the book was very good and I appreciated Scott's insight and especially liked his recommendations for the next administration at the end of his book. I also read Bush at War. A lot of what Scott said in his book coincided with the events written about in Bush at War. I think it is an important book for all of us to read, especially in an election year that has so much at stake.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    Or, What Really Did Happen?

    It's easier to tell the truth - especially now that you can sell a book while doing it. My expectations were met - Scott trying to whitewash something that has already been cleansed, laundered, and hung out to dry. Interestingly, however, the way he went about telling his story by first denouncing an act by the Executive Branch, then absolving Bush of any culpability, then repainting the whole picture black. Not necessarily an interesting book - definitely not worth the price.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    Excellent & Insightful

    Compelling and griping insight into how the Bush administration deceived the American public and irreparably damaged our country.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    more truth comes out

    This book will join the list already written about aspects of the failed Bush Administration. As time goes on, I think more shocking truths will come out from others who were witness to the tragic debacle that has been the past eight years.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2008

    Tragic but we already knew this.

    This book isn't for those who want to find new information. The facts that show the Bush administration lied to the US about the necessity of the Iraq war are clear and evident. McClellan is not the first official to say this. Tenet, formerly of the CIA, gives information equally damaging to the Bush case for war, if not more damaging. This is just another person with a different point of view providing more supporting evidence. It seems that some other reviewers are getting their opinions straight from Fox News. McClellan was in the position to know what he wrote about. He is not relaying information he had no access too. When he doesn't know exactly what was said, he says so. When he makes assumptions based upon his information, he says so. This is not some 'liberal plot'. It is not just an attempt to make money. The story is real. The American people were lied too. The Congress were lied too. Again, this isn't new information. We have known this for a long time. The facts are out there and widely available. Many Americans would rather deny the facts rather than feel that our country acted wrongly. It is not anti-American to admit our mistakes. It is tragic to ignore them and act as if they never happened. I think this book just tries to tell his view of 'What Happened'.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2009

    Excellent Piece of History We Should Never Forget

    McClellan presents a clear cut look from an insider into what became a political operation out of the people's White House, a symbol of freedom across the world.

    For those who believe any person in government serves anybody but the people, they are wrong.

    McClellan showed the highest loyalty to all Americans by revealing the truth, and he finally, though belatedly, remembered that as a public servant, he answers to the public.

    What is truly revealing, is the point when Bush admits to McClellan as they are getting on Air Force One that Bush was the one who ordered the release of information and even kept his spokeperson out of the loop. Bush should tell all future Presidents that they don't serve their buddies, they serve all the American people.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    McClellan or Bush?

    Very disappointed on last disc and heard very little new. If I had realized that it was an autobiography of Scott McClellan chances are very good I wouldn't have bought it. Interesting to see what a Press Secretary does but felt I heard a lot of self-back patting.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2008

    Shows Humane Aspects of Bush

    Notwithstanding the pre-publication hype, I found this book highlighted some of the president's more redeeming/humane qualities, such as loyalty. The book probably has an over-empahasis on the CIA 'outing' versus other events of the Bush presidency. Much discussion of the continual campaign mode that the Bush team has employed through both terms.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    Disappointing

    A poorly-written piece designed to attempt to absolve poor Scott of any responsibility in the fiasco that is the current US administration. A true waste of money.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    A different take

    When listening to some of the Press Releases/Statements put out during the years this book was written. It is easy to see the conflicts that arose regarding different interpretations of the events that took place. This provides a great counterpoint to the official statements released by members of the Bush Administration. When trying to descern the accuracy of events, alternative points of view are always a welcomed necessity.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2008

    Monotone Voice

    I thought that I was ordering the book version and received cd's, which should have tipped me off. His voice is so monotonous that I haven't gotten through even the second cd. Perhaps on a cold day in Los Angeles I will attempt to snuggle up and listen, hoping not to fall asleep with this once more.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    They Lied To Me

    After reading two thirds of this book it is clear to me that it was written so Scott could tell his version of how Scooter Libby and Carl Rove lied to him about outing Valerie Plane. As Press Secretary he was told to stonewall the fact that he was lied to and is upset because he feels his reputation was badly tarnished. That is the basic purpose of this book. It also tells the story of a light weight whose main accomplishment prior to joining Bush was getting hazing eliminated from his fraternity. He also depicts a nieve guy who was loyal to obvious liars but liked the job and his position of influence so he conveniently became in denial of the lies he was spouting to the press daily. Scott still does not realize that all the lies were intentional and that Bush and his cronies knew exactly what they were doing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2008

    A reviewer

    Great inside look with straight talk from a Texan about Bush's White House problems.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Excellent Message

    This book is excellent and really details the shameful state of affairs in our Washington, D.C. Too bad that people who don't discuss the facts of the book get into the mudslinging. I have only finished the first 2/3 of the book, but everybody in government should read this--and probably all outside of government. This is a really a sad tale of a terrible loss of leadership and lack of staight talk.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    Good Job

    We all need this kind of books that give lights to the past.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    Army Veteran's Reaction

    This book will fascilitate a much needed dialogue in this country. Written by an insider to this generations biggest blunder, the Bush Presidency. Many parrallels can be found with this book and the new movie WAR Inc. Greed and corruption are not supposed to be a politic force in this country, but sadly they are. This will, in my humble oppinion, be the next 'All the Presidents Men'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2010

    Self-serving Diatribe

    If Scott McClellan needs to cleanse his soul for working in an administration he lost faith in, he should try prayer instead of a book. What I learned is that he sold his own soul remaining loyal to what he no longer believed in and continued to spout half-truths and sometimes outright lies while cashing a paycheck earned from the taxes of the people he lied to. When you no longer believe in the work you are doing or the people you work for, quit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    Nothing new here

    Same old rehash by yet another Bush Basher for money. Why people spend their hard earned money on this kind of garbage is beyond me. I believe we as a nation are smarter than this. Is it not time to spend our valuable time in fixing the problems facing us now, such as high gas prices, etc.??

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    rewriting history

    I was very disappointed with scott mcclellans book 'what happened' he was never in any of the meetings with president Bush and yet his facts seem to contrast those staff members who were acually there.If a goverment official writes a book for publication and makes certain claims they need to be acurate and not try to rewrite history I was very disappointed with this publication cause he was not were he said he was suppose to be and I think this book is not good for soldiers moral.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    IT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR McCLELLAN TO LIE ABOUT BUSH IN HIS BOOK. WE ARE LIVING BUSH AND CHEENEY LIES DAILY. AFTER READING THE BOOK IT ONLY REINFORCES MY VIEWS OF BUSH AND HIS ADMINSTRATION I HAD YEARS AGO. THE BOOK IS GREAT, LOOKING FORWARD TO McCLELLAN NEXT BOOK ON BUSH!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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