Having spent an entire news cycle iterating through responses to Scott McClellan’s What Happened, the Bush Administration and media have finally decided to follow Drudge’s lead and label him a “snitch.” From Peggy Noonan to the back-bench blogs, it’s suddenly the new meme: Everybody hates a snitch.
Snitches are disloyal. They can’t be believed, much less trusted. They’ve broken the club rules, violated the code of honor. They’ll have trouble facing friends or family or even going home again.
There are some people who like snitches: law enforcement. Snitches, you see, rat out crooks. And by calling McClellan a snitch, the Administration and what McClellan called its “media enablers” is tacitly admitting that, well, there was something to snitch about. (Notice that in the set of responses—”Not the Scottie we know,” “sounds like a liberal blogger,” “did it for the money,” “why didn’t he speak up?,” and the beyond bizarre “George Soros made him do it”—they all accept that what he wrote is, at least basically, true.)
So the first mistake of the swiftboat-the-snitch play is that it confirms that there was wrongdoing to snitch about. No doubt our brave enablers will get right on that story.
The second mistake is to rant about McClellan’s “betrayal.” Because if you read the book, or at least the advances, betrayal is the whole point. McClellan was loyal to Bush to the point where he told his lies for him, only to discover the truth much later. Bush betrayed McClellan; that’s the point.
And the larger point is that the American people were betrayed. We were led into an unnecessary and poorly prosecuted war based on false assertions. We were left to die in the flooded streets of the Ninth Ward because incompetent cronies were put in charge of vital agencies. Our dedicated civil servants, attorneys and agents who fight terrorists and criminals, were used as political pawns. And through all this, the media, fawningly and incredibly, took the lies from the lips of the President, parroted through his press secretary, and printed them as unchallenged fact.
There has been a betrayal, but the President is not its victim.