Leading article: Inside story

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The Independent Online

The conclusions of the new political memoir that is creating a stir in Washington are pretty unremarkable. We are told that the Bush administration was engaged in "manipulating sources of public opinion" over Iraq and "downplaying the major reason for going to war". President Bush himself exhibited a "lack of inquisitiveness" and the real driver of policy in the White House was the Vice President, Dick Cheney. So much of this has become conventional wisdom.

The interest lies purely in the author of the book. Scott McClellan is not any ordinary Washington watcher, but the President's former press secretary; someone who was at the very centre of power in the White House for three years and a crony of Mr Bush from his days in Texas. His criticisms of those he served cannot simply be dismissed by the White House as the partisan slurs of a political opponent. Mr McClellan was there. Indeed, it was his job to deliver the message that the White House wanted to project.

There is a case for arguing that McClellan has performed a public service by confirming the true nature of the Bush White House with his insider's account. Yet with political memoirs, as with comedy, timing is crucial. President Bush is now the lamest of lame ducks and heading for the exit. Despite the flurry of interest the book has provoked, the controversies it rakes up feel stale. The main question left lingering in the mind after reading Mr McClellan's exposé is: what took him so long?