White House loyalists were first shocked and then furious over a scathing new book by former White House press secretary Scott McLellan who accuses President Bush of being "evasive" and "shading the truth" about the war in Iraq, his rumored cocaine use and other controversial issues.
McLellan's memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," is the harshest insider's account yet of the Bush years and is particularly hard on the administration's handling of the Iraq war and the motives for launching the invasion.
McClellan calls the Iraq war a "serious strategic blunder" and "grave mistake" and chastises the president for his "decision to turn away from candor and honesty when these qualities were most needed."
"The Iraq war was not necessary," concludes McCLellan, who defended the war during his three years as the White House spokesman.
"Scott is in for a whirlwind, I can tell you that from personal experience," said Matthew Dowd a former Bush advisor who publicly criticized the White House's handling of Iraq and is now a commentator for ABC News.
It didn't take long for the storm to break.
"This doesn't sound like Scott — not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time," said Karl Rove, Bush's one-time political adviser who is described by McLellan as a "political operative who places political gain ahead of national interest."
"It sounds like a left-wing blogger … if he had those moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them," Rove said on FoxNews where is a political pundit.
McClellan's predecessor in the White House job, Ari Fleischer, said he was "heartbroken" by his former deputy's book.
"There is something about this book that just doesn't make any sense," Fleischer said in a statement. "For two and a half years Scott and I worked shoulder to shoulder at the White House... Not once did Scott approach me -- privately or publicly -- to discuss any misgivings he had about the war in Iraq or the manner in which the White House made the case for war."
Fleischer said McClellan continued to defend the war even after he left the White House.
Like Rove, Fleischer said the book didn't "sound like Scott," and that McLellan told him on Tuesday that "his editor 'tweaked some things closely in the last couple months.'"
"Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House," said McClellan's White House successor Dana Perino. "For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad — this is not the Scott we knew."
Perino said the president wouldn't be commenting on the book.
Before he wrote his own memoir, White House press secretary Scott McClellan was rather critical of those who did the same.
In fact, some of the same language now being used to trash McClellan he himself used to trash previous administration authors.
On the book critical of the Bush White House written in cooperation with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," McClellan said on January 12, 2004, "It appears to be more about trying to justify personal views and opinions than it does about looking at the results that we are achieving on behalf of the American people."