Thursday, June 05, 2008

Scott McClellan and the psychology of dissent

There was nothing in former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's comments about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq that didn't just confirm suspicions I already had. They were lying to the American people about the reasons to go to war, Karl Rove is an amoral opportunist (honestly, who didn't already know that?) and the whole administration is a corrupt mess. But now the Bushites are left to do damage control, and their first instinct was to call McClellan a bitter former employee. I don't know the circumstances of McClellan's exit from Bush's league of evil, but since I already had an inkling of what he said happened behind the league's closed doors, I'm inclined to at least listen to what he says.
The "he's just bitter" argument was also leveled against Mark Felt, the former Number Two in the FBI recently revealed as Woodward and Bernstein's informer Deep Throat. Supposedly, according to the Nixon faithful, Felt had a grudge against Nixon for passing him over as head of the FBI, and wanted to take him down. With both Felt and McClellan, I feel that while they had personal conflicts with the powers that they spoke out against, they ultimately broke their silences because of a crisis of conscience. Having that information about the powers that be screwing the people they're supposed to serve grated on their minds. McClellan could have spoken out sooner, but at least he did. McClellan and Felt may or may not have been trying to exact revenge on their former bosses, but their personal problems with them probably made their decisions to come forward easier, that any thought that they might be hurting those they accused vanished with the knowledge that the bosses had committed terrible wrongs, and that they they themselves had felt betrayed.
As illustrated in Putin's Russia, dissent sometimes comes with a heavy price. Alexander Litvenenko, a former KGB spy who had accused other KGB officials, including future president Vladimir Putin, of corruption, was poisoned with polonium, and the top suspect, another former KGB spy named along with Putin in Litvenenko's testimony, has been hiding out under the protection of the Kremlin ever since.

No comments: