McClellan: I Became What I Wanted to Change

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, I, I think that the, the President, again, I, there's, there's a- going back to, uh, the way a lot of politicians get caught up in this whole environment in D.C., where it's a, a battle over power and influence, and, and always campaigning with the next election in mind, instead of getting more focused on deliberation and compromise. And so I, I don't think that what happened, uh, was deliberate or intentional, or conscious, on his part, or on a lot of other people's parts, on both sides of the aisles. Uh, I think it's just going to take...

MARTHA RADDATZ: Can you describe to me...

SCOTT McCLELLAN: ...It's just --

MARTHA RADDATZ: Describe to me what you think of the President, 'cause you're spinning right now.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I know, I, I, um...

MARTHA RADDATZ: Describe to me what you think of the President.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I have a lot of personal affection for him, but I think...

MARTHA RADDATZ: I know.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: ...I think in his, in terms of some of his policy, he was, uh, misguided. Uh, in terms of...

MARTHA RADDATZ: In terms of...?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: ...His policies were misplaced.

MARTHA RADDATZ: In, in terms of veering off-course. In, in your mind, is the President a liar?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No. Um, I think...

MARTHA RADDATZ: What, what's the difference between lying, and not telling the truth?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, that's one of the point- that's one of the points...

MARTHA RADDATZ: To exaggerating, or spinning?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: ...That's one of the, that's one of the points I make. Um, and I, I think that, you know, Washington tries to look at things in black and white terms.The truth is often more nuanced than that, and just what goes into great care and detail, looking to understand that truth. And I think that the President is someone who, uh, just got caught up in, in, uh, the way the game is played in Washington. That it's not, it's not that he's deliberately going out to try to mislead anybody, or anything of that nature, it's just the way that, you know, that the permanent...

MARTHA RADDATZ: You don't think that he was... but that's exactly what you say in the book.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: ...What the permanent campaign...

MARTHA RADDATZ: That he's trying to mislead.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: The permanent campaign is inherently deceptive. Most of it's in- incidental, or harmless, in, in other ways. Uh, but when you bring that mentality into the war-making process, then it becomes very troubling, and that's what happened with this White House. Uh, instead of looking at the hard truths, and explaining those to the American people, about what to expect with war, we got caught up in this whole mentality of selling the war to the American people. Um, and yes, in itself, uh, it becomes a game played on spin, a game played on obfu- obfuscation, and secrecy, uh, was another thing, that, you know, we built walls between the White House, and the press, too often, I think. Um, in this day and age, when you have such a transparent society, openness and forthrightness are essential, and particularly when you're in the build-up to a war.

MARTHA RADDATZ: What's the, what's the difference between obfuscation, spinning, exaggerating, and lying? I think we all go round and round and we don't want to call a lie and lie. And you said yourself in the book that the President sometimes would say things that weren't quite true. And that he wouldn't think they were a lie?

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