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The book, which had been scheduled for release on Monday, was being sold by bookstores on Wednesday after the publisher moved up its release. McClellan planned promotional appearances on news talk shows on Thursday.

Governing via endless campaigning is not a new phenomenon, but it accelerated markedly during the tumultuous Clinton White House and then the war-shaken years of the Bush administration. Bush strategist Karl Rove had a strong hand in both politics and governing as overseer of key offices, including not only openly political affairs and long-range strategic planning but as liaison for intergovernmental affairs, focusing on state and local officials.

Bush's presidency "wandered and remained so far off course by excessively embracing the permanent campaign and its tactics," McClellan writes. He says Bush relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war.

That's about right, says Brookings Institution political analyst Thomas Mann, co-author of a book entitled "The Permanent Campaign."

"It was such a hyped-up effort to frame the problem and the choices in a way that really didn't do justice to the complexity of the arguments, the intelligence," Mann said in an interview. Though all presidents try to "control the message," he said, "it was really a way of preventing that discussion. It just had enormously harmful consequences. I think they carried it to a level not heretofore seen."

Each day, underscoring the daily blend of politics and government, Bush and his administration make an extraordinary effort to control information and make sure the White House message is spread across the government and beyond. The line for officials to follow is set at early-morning senior staff meetings at the White House, then transmitted in e-mails, conference calls, faxes and meetings. The loop extends to Capitol Hill where lawmakers get the administration talking points. So do friendly interest groups and others.

The aim is to get them all to say the same thing, unwavering from the administration line. Other administrations have tried to do the same thing, but none has been as disciplined as the Bush White House.

It starts at the top
McClellan recounts how Bush, as governor of Texas, spelled out his approach about the press at their very first meeting in 1998. He said Bush "mentioned some of his expectations for his spokespeople — the importance of staying on message; the need to talk about what you're for, rather than what you are against; how he liked to make the big news on his own time frame and terms without his spokespeople getting out in front of him, and, finally, making sure that public statements were coordinated internally so that everyone is always on the same page and there are few surprises."

Image: Scott McClellan's book
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Copies of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” go on sale Sunday.

In September 2002, Bush's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, ran afoul of the president's rules by saying the cost of a possible war with Iraq could be somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion. Bush was irritated and made sure that Lindsey was told his comments were unacceptable. "Lindsey had violated the first rule of the disciplined, on-message Bush White House: don't make news unless you're authorized to do so," McClellan wrote.

Within four months, Lindsey was gone, resigning as part of a reshaping of Bush's economic team.

While message control has been part of many administrations, Mann said that, "They were just tougher and more disciplined about it than anyone else had been."

 

 

The book, which had been scheduled for release on Monday, was being sold by bookstores on Wednesday after the publisher moved up its release. McClellan planned promotional appearances on news talk shows on Thursday.

Governing via endless campaigning is not a new phenomenon, but it accelerated markedly during the tumultuous Clinton White House and then the war-shaken years of the Bush administration. Bush strategist Karl Rove had a strong hand in both politics and governing as overseer of key offices, including not only openly political affairs and long-range strategic planning but as liaison for intergovernmental affairs, focusing on state and local officials.

Bush's presidency "wandered and remained so far off course by excessively embracing the permanent campaign and its tactics," McClellan writes. He says Bush relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war.

That's about right, says Brookings Institution political analyst Thomas Mann, co-author of a book entitled "The Permanent Campaign."

"It was such a hyped-up effort to frame the problem and the choices in a way that really didn't do justice to the complexity of the arguments, the intelligence," Mann said in an interview. Though all presidents try to "control the message," he said, "it was really a way of preventing that discussion. It just had enormously harmful consequences. I think they carried it to a level not heretofore seen."

Each day, underscoring the daily blend of politics and government, Bush and his administration make an extraordinary effort to control information and make sure the White House message is spread across the government and beyond. The line for officials to follow is set at early-morning senior staff meetings at the White House, then transmitted in e-mails, conference calls, faxes and meetings. The loop extends to Capitol Hill where lawmakers get the administration talking points. So do friendly interest groups and others.

The aim is to get them all to say the same thing, unwavering from the administration line. Other administrations have tried to do the same thing, but none has been as disciplined as the Bush White House.

It starts at the top
McClellan recounts how Bush, as governor of Texas, spelled out his approach about the press at their very first meeting in 1998. He said Bush "mentioned some of his expectations for his spokespeople — the importance of staying on message; the need to talk about what you're for, rather than what you are against; how he liked to make the big news on his own time frame and terms without his spokespeople getting out in front of him, and, finally, making sure that public statements were coordinated internally so that everyone is always on the same page and there are few surprises."

Image: Scott McClellan's book
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Copies of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” go on sale Sunday.

In September 2002, Bush's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, ran afoul of the president's rules by saying the cost of a possible war with Iraq could be somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion. Bush was irritated and made sure that Lindsey was told his comments were unacceptable. "Lindsey had violated the first rule of the disciplined, on-message Bush White House: don't make news unless you're authorized to do so," McClellan wrote.

Within four months, Lindsey was gone, resigning as part of a reshaping of Bush's economic team.

While message control has been part of many administrations, Mann said that, "They were just tougher and more disciplined about it than anyone else had been."