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What Happened: Inside the Bush White House…

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

by Scott McClellan

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Book Description
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.

My Review
I have found McClellan's assessment of the Bush administration to be fair and insightful. The interplay between White House staff members has been much speculated upon, and I found Scott McClellan's perspective on the individual personalities and the role they played in political maneuvering especially insightful. It provides a thoughtful analysis by a Republican who is concern about the future of his party and the nation. I do highly recommend this read. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
Just started reading this book. The introduction made for some very interesting reading.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
Just started reading this book. The introduction made for some very interesting reading.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
(The audio book is read by McClellan-- the best way to read/listen to a book).
McClellan worked for Bush from his days as Texas' governor. He was White House Press Secretary from 2003-2006 and was fed to the wolves in the middle of the Valerie Plame scandal.

McClellan reminds me of too many people I went to school with-- someone with a who thinks they know something, particularly about good policy, because they grew up around politics (his mom is Carol Keaton Strayhorn). The first couple chapters are autobiographical, as if I care about his elementary school days...

But it gets more interesting as you get into the White House. McLellan decries the Permanent Campaign mentality as what derailed Bush's presidency. In his conclusion, he offers advice to future administrations on how to govern with bipartisanship.

Bush loves his workers, he cried and hugged McLellan when he was asked to resign. He even called McClellan's wife to smooth things over. But Bush also lied to McLellan and left him on the hook defending Karl Rove and Scooter Libby who both also lied to McLellan. This made McLellan look like a liar to the national media and helped ruin the credibility of the White House.

Press Secretaries are intentionally left out of the loop fairly often. So, McLellan writes about what knowledge he had and what meetings he attended.

The author paints a picture of the White House where no debates about policy were engaged in (especially after the re-election), most of the policies catered to The Base, and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove were always working behind-the-scenes to run the show.

He points out some of the glaring mistakes they made in regards to selling the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, and more.

By the time this book was published nobody cared anymore. McLellan's account only confirms what everyone else was already writing-- except it puts a more human and deeply emotional face on Bush.

3 stars out of 5. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
I absolutely loved this book for one reason, it told me truly what happened in the White House during the Bush Administration. I always got the feeling that Bush was a man of integrity but something went horribly war with the war in Iraq as well as public opinion - how did a man of such character fall so far in the eyes of so many Americans? McClellan tells a great tale, although it is extremely dry and boring at times, of how Bush was manipulated, unknowingly by his advisers, both Cheney and Rove. I've never trusted those two men, and now I know why. McClellan also explains the "win at an cost" partisanship war attitude in DC, which Bush and his administration not only participated in, but perfected! And we see the effects of that with our current President Obama who has taken the culture of deception to new heights and continued the partisan "war" - all to the detriment of America. Some parts of the book are cliff hangars and some parts are extremely tedious and you have to slog through them, but the story he tells rings true and his personal introspection and admission of culpability is refreshing and revealing. ( )
  flutelaura | May 1, 2013 |
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Throughout American history, presidential administrations have undergone tumultuous periods of war and scandal.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The former White House press secretary examines how and why the Bush administration went awry, providing a look at George W. Bush and his top aides in terms of such crises as Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war, and Washington's political infighting.

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