He was the most plodding, the most robotic, and – until this week – apparently the most loyal of presidential spokesmen. But now Scott McClellan, White House press secretary for George Bush between 2003 and 2006, has delivered the most wounding critique yet of this unhappy administration by one of its erstwhile senior officials.
What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception is no falsely touted insider memoir, jazzed up with a few titillating anecdotes to boost sales. It is a 341-page disquisition on Mr Bush, on his misbegotten war in Iraq, and on his entire conduct of the presidency, which Mr McClellan says was built on the use of propaganda, and on the technique of government as permanent campaign.
"History appears poised to confirm," he writes in arguably the most damning paragraph of a book full of them, "that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now ... What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."