“You talked about Fight Club.” - Jon Stewart to Scott McClellan.

Scott McClellan showed up on The Daily Show to promote his new book. The interview is worth watching:

9 thoughts on ““You talked about Fight Club.” - Jon Stewart to Scott McClellan.

  1. McClellan made a good point here, that Jon Stewart, much as I admire him, didn’t seem to get:  that it’s quite possible that the line between intentional misleading of the public, and misleading oneself, does not always exist.  To me, it seems as though the American morass in Iraq is a consequence of a mixture of greed for money and political power, and a conviction that “evil” and/or “danger” must be fought.  I don’t think it’s possible, or even useful, to try to separate these motives, and I doubt that they are clear-cut in the minds of the Administration either.

  2. Zilch, remember cold fusion? There was a watershed moment when Fleischmann and Pons crossed from self-delusion to fraud. As far as BushCo is concerned, you’d have to examine each and very player to determine when they crossed the line—or if there was a line to cross to begin with.

  3. Exactly, elwed.  Does Bush have a line between sincere devotion to “Christian” ideals, and making a buck for his friends at Halliburton & Co?  I doubt it.

  4. McClellan made a good point here, that Jon Stewart, much as I admire him, didn’t seem to get:  that it’s quite possible that the line between intentional misleading of the public, and misleading oneself, does not always exist.  To me, it seems as though the American morass in Iraq is a consequence of a mixture of greed for money and political power, and a conviction that “evil” and/or “danger” must be fought.  I don’t think it’s possible, or even useful, to try to separate these motives, and I doubt that they are clear-cut in the minds of the Administration either.

    Yeah.. I hear that argument all the time, but there is a BIG difference between doing wrong and knowingly doing wrong.

    If you are setting yourself up to lie, it is the same as lying.  That’s where the phrase “The ends justify the means” comes from.  Just like you can’t secure your freedoms by giving them away, if the leaders sacrifice their ethics in order to “win” then they are making up their minds ahead of time that if it comes down to doing what’s right or doing what they need to do to get the job done, they will do what it takes to get the job done.  They know what they SHOULD have done, and made the decision to do wrong.

    Contrast that with someone who simply doesn’t know the truth, or can’t decide what’s right and ends up doing the wrong thing, trying to make the best choice he can.

    I take the latter all the time.  He can learn.  The former is evil, whether he knows it or doesn’t care, he is not on your side.

    The reason I know this is because you can ask them if “the ends justifies the means”… If anyone should knowingly mislead the public on topics like the reasons to go to war and the justification for search and seizure over and above what the constitution allows and they will all respond with an emphatic: NO!.  So why, then, do they do it?

    McClellan is wrong.  There is a difference.  They know the difference, and they know what they’re doing, and they know it’s wrong.  I’m not about to forgive them for that.  If Bush or Cheney could, someday come out into the light and say:

      “Yes, I was wrong.  We had faulty intelligence and we knew it was faulty, but we misled the public because we were convinced that no matter what the consequences we had to invade Iraq and defeat Hussein.  We thought there were WMDs there, against the evidence and we thought Hussein was making backroom deals with terrorists, again.. against the evidence.  We were wrong, and we’re sorry.”

      Then maybe I’ll have some charity, but you tell me… what are the odds?

  5. Yeah.. I hear that argument all the time, but there is a BIG difference between doing wrong and knowingly doing wrong.

    Swordsbane, I’ll agree that there is a difference, and I’m certainly not trying to exonerate Bush & Co.  All I’m saying is that people often try to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing, and they often succeed, at least to some extent.  I don’t think that one’s state of mind in matters of morality can be described as either “right” or “wrong”- it’s far more complex than that.

  6. Swordsbane, I’ll agree that there is a difference, and I’m certainly not trying to exonerate Bush & Co.  All I’m saying is that people often try to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing, and they often succeed, at least to some extent.  I don’t think that one’s state of mind in matters of morality can be described as either “right” or “wrong”- it’s far more complex than that.

    Not good enough.  Too many excuses for bad behavior and not enough making sure it doesn’t happen again.  I’m not accusing you, but McClellan seems like he’s trying to justify his being a part of that whole mess by saying “Well, they may not have really technically known what they were doing.”

    Bullshit!  I’m not giving an inch on this, and I’m certainly not going to let someone rationalize their own complicity in something that was so fucked up.  It’s too important.  As bad as Bush was, he hasn’t woken us up yet.  The camels back is doing just fine.  People talk about change and not making the same mistakes as before, yet they continue to make the same mistakes in our leadership.  Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter.  My left nut has better ethics than any of those twits.  We need to have higher standards for our elected officials, and not just in our voting.  They should be unable to have the kinds of moral lapses that you’re describing, and if they do, then we need to punish them for it so that the next guy doesn’t do the same thing.

    They can lie through their teeth to get elected, and there’s only so much you can do about that, but once they’re in, they need to be told that if they screw up as much as Bush did, then there will be consequences.  We aren’t doing that, so we’re dooming ourselves to having more like him, no matter how we vote.

  7. Swordsbane, what zilch and I are trying to say is that the Bush administration isn’t necessarily a homogenous entity. I doubt that the ringleaders have a conscience that allows them to even ask questions like “is this right or wrong” and instead they ask “what can I get away with”. Other may be true believers who eventually escaped from the echo chamber and reality distortion field. Others may well have known about the wrongness but went along anyway for personal gain.

    Is the Bush administration as a whole unethical (to put it mildly)? By any reasonable standard, sure. Will they ever be brought to justice? Fat chance. Is every member and supporter of this administration equally guilty? No, but it won’t be easy figure out where each individual weighs in.

  8. I doubt that the ringleaders have a conscience that allows them to even ask questions like “is this right or wrong” and instead they ask “what can I get away with”. Other may be true believers who eventually escaped from the echo chamber and reality distortion field. Others may well have known about the wrongness but went along anyway for personal gain.

    There is only one ringleader.  ONE.  If the guy at the top has the critical thinking skills, the concept of right and wrong and the responsibility to handle his office, then it doesn’t matter what the people under him are like.  It’s his responsibility to keep them in line.  We only vote for the one guy in the administration.  Beyond that, he appoints the people he likes.  If they screw up, it’s because HE screwed up.  End of story.  It doesn’t matter if he’s willfully deceitful or just a moron.  If you’re asking me which I prefer, then we have a debate, but quibbling over which category Bush falls into is missing the ENTIRE point.  It’s like since they are never going to be charged with a crime, we have to somehow rationalize it so that it isn’t so much of a crime so we can go onto the next administration and not lose any sleep.  Well, tough.  Bush screwed up, and that means WE screwed up.  Deal with it, and if he’s not charged with a crime, that means we screwed up that too.  There’s no one else we can but the blame for THAT on.

    Is the Bush administration as a whole unethical (to put it mildly)? By any reasonable standard, sure. Will they ever be brought to justice? Fat chance. Is every member and supporter of this administration equally guilty? No, but it won’t be easy figure out where each individual weighs in.

    And that will keep happening as long as we don’t bring the guy in charge to justice.  It doesn’t matter what we think of each and every member of the administration.  It is the responsibility of the President to make sure we don’t have to worry about them.  As I said, the President is who we vote for.  It’s his ass on the line, and I want him to be worried about his own ass everytime he picks someone for an appointment.

    Look, I commend McClellan for his candor now, and even for his bravery, but the phrase “willfully ignorant” means that you should know better.  It means that not only do you not know what you should know, but that you refuse to believe you need to know it.  These people knew better.  I cannot forgive Bush for:
    A) not having the skills to do his job AND
    B) not knowing he needed those skills AND
    C) Not being someone who was honorable AND
    D) not hiring people who were honorable AND
    E) Not thinking he did anything wrong by not fulfilling A-E.

      How much slack can you cut someone before it gets ridiculous?  At some point there isn’t any longer any difference between that and simply being an evil man, and we’re WAY beyond that point.  If you can sit there and tell me that the failures of this administration were (even partially) because they didn’t know right from wrong, then you are part of the problem and aren’t anywhere close to the solution.  We make excuses for every administration instead of actually trying to fix the problems we see.  I’m not going to buy into that. 

    It’s like arguing about whether the bank robber took money out of the charity can or not.  When (if?) you get the money back and need to divide it up, THEN maybe we can quibble about who had how much, but if you can’t catch him, wont charge him and the money’s already spent, who cares?

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