Scott McClellan Is the President's Spokesman, Which Doesn't Leave Him Much to Say
When briefings get tense, McClellan's voice can become robotic, as if he's a hostage reading a statement. His body language can betray unease: He starts blinking rapidly and he clenches his shoulders as an interrogator unfurls a question.
"There's no question the dynamic of the briefing room has changed with live TV," says senior White House aide Dan Bartlett, who also works closely with McClellan. "When you have live cameras rolling, it makes for an even more stressful working environment. You're talking about difficult issues, and mistakes get compounded."
Oh, I'm sure it was much easier in all-print days gone by: you only had to lie to a few guys who were in on the joke instead of millions of people who don't think official lies are a damn bit funny.
"We've come to understand that no matter how we slice and dice something, Scott's going to stick to the recipe," says Ken Herman, White House correspondent for Cox News Service. "I can't think of any topic where on the sixth or seventh iteration of a question we get something different from the original answer. By somebody's measure, that's the definition of doing the job well. Certainly not ours."
As with most people who do regular televised battle with McClellan, Herman says McClellan is a nice guy, polite and friendly off-camera. "He seems to have the right temperament to be a punching bag," Herman says.
"Who knows, maybe he goes home at night and kicks his dog?"
That's the Bush way, all right: take it out on the defenseless. And then lie about it.