Friday, April 21, 2006

Farewell to the Periwinkle Age

Scott McClellen is on his way out the door, and one presumes he will be swift enough to avoid getting hit on the behindus by the door. PressThink has a really interesting article about why McClellen was chosen (which hints at who the next guy might be).
McClellan’s specialty was non-communication; what’s remarkable about him as a choice for press secretary is that he had no special talent for explaining Bush’s policies to the world. In fact, he usually made things less clear by talking about them. We have to assume that this is the way the President wanted it; and if we do assume that it forces us to ask: why use a bad explainer and a rotten communicator as your spokesman before the entire world? Isn’t that just dumb— and bad politics? Wouldn’t it be suicidal in a media-driven age with its 24-hour news cycle?

You would think so, but if the goal is to skate through unquestioned—because the gaps in your explanations are so large to start with—then to refuse to explain is a demonstration of raw presidential power. (As in “never apologize, never explain.”) So this is another reason McClellan was there. Not to be persuasive, but to refute the assumption that there was anyone the White House needed or wanted to persuade— least of all the press! Politics demands assent, on one hand, and attack on the other. (And those are your choices with Bush and Rove: assent or be attacked.) The very notion of persuasion conceded more to democratic politics than the Bush forces wanted to concede.
This makes a lot of sense. Certainly I've noted that any questions about how President Bush fights the war on terror are met with a variation on the question "So you favor giving up, eh?" In the Bush Conservative mindset it really is his way or the highway.

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