McClellan: Bush, Cheney 'deceiving themselves' on legacy 'tour'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday January 15, 2009

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President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been devoting their final days in office to an attempt to shore up their own legacy. However, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan insists that "nothing's really changed" and that the two men are "deceiving themselves" if they hope to convince people their administration was a success.

"What's really missing in this whole tour -- or legacy project -- is candor," McClellan told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday. "Candor about substance and about policy mistakes that the president is not acknowledging."

"There's a disconnect there between the public's view of his presidency and his own view -- and the vice president's view -- of this presidency," continued McClellan. "And the only way you can begin to close that disconnect is to openly and candidly acknowledge the substantive mistakes that were made. ... All we're seeing now is a calculated effort to engage in a political marketing campaign."

McClellan, who left the White House in 2006, issued a stunning memoir last spring, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, in which he charged that the administration had used propaganda to sell the Iraq War and that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby "had at best misled" him about their role in the outing of Valerie Plame. He announced in October that he would be voting for Barack Obama.

"Do the president and the vice president actually think that they didn't make any significant mistakes?" Olbermann asked.

"I think to some extent, they're trapped in this state of denial about their own shortcomings and how this administration went off course," McClellan replied. "If they would go out there and acknowledge some of those mistakes, then I think they could go back and talk about some of the successes. ... But right now, people are just tuning things out, and the only thing they're doing at this point is really deceiving themselves."

Olbermann then suggested that "being Dick Cheney means never having to say you're sorry."

"I think that with the vice president there's no reflecting, there's no second-guessing, there's no looking back," McClellan agreed. "And I think that's one of the things with the president, too. He's not inclined to engage in self-examination or any genuine reflection about things. They view this legacy project as just another way to spin things for the better."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Jan. 14, 2009.

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