The liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org today launched a petition drive calling on former White House official Scott McClellan to donate the proceeds of his book to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The petition drive, intended to create pressure for Mr. McClellan to be asked about it on the morning news-interview shows Sunday, is the latest signal of a backlash by Democrats and Republicans alike against the former press secretary for turning on his ex-boss, President Bush.
MoveOn’s petition e-mail, sent out to its supporters Saturday morning, said that Mr. McClellan’s “coming clean is admirable.”
“But McClellan shouldn’t profit off the role he played in our nation’s largest foreign policy blunder,” the release reads.
“After spending years defending the Bush administration and perpetuating the lies that led our country into war, Scott McClellan is poised to make bank — his tell-all book is a bestseller and he may make hundreds of thousands or millions,” MoveOn says. “Meanwhile, our troops are still dying in Iraq.”
Mr. McClellan’s new book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” accuses the Bush administration of going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and of over-hyping the weapons of mass destruction threat.
The tome rocketed to No. 1 on Amazon.com this week in advance of its release Monday after copies were obtained in advance by a handful of newspapers, including The Washington Times, on Tuesday night.
Conservative bloggers critical of Mr. McClellan have pointed out that former Pentagon official Douglas J. Feith, one of the war’s architects, is donating his proceeds from his new book, “War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism,” to a group he set up to help war veterans.
Mr. McClellan, a 40-year-old Texan who worked for Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas and worked in the White House for six years, will appear Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and on ABC’s “This Week.”
“If we make enough noise, he’ll probably be asked about it on tomorrow’s Sunday shows,” MoveOn said.
The liberal group’s move to shame Mr. McClellan into giving his money away is the most recent slam on him for being a turncoat.
Terry McAuliffe, the former head of the Democratic National Committee who now is chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign committee, said Mr. McClellan was “wrong” to write the book.
“I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made ‘em money, it made ‘em prestige, it gave them all this power and then they turn around and slap ‘em,” Mr. McAuliffe said in an interview this week with National Journal.
“I don’t care who it is — Democrat, Republican — it’s wrong,” he said.
And on Thursday, former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, of Kansas, sent an e-mail to Mr. McClellan directly calling him a “miserable creature” and also suggesting that he donate his profits, though in a different way than MoveOn did.
“There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues,” Mr. Dole wrote. “No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits and, spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.”
Mr. Dole said that “when the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Me.’ ”
“You should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high-profile job,” Mr. Dole said. “You’re a hot ticket now, but don’t you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?”
Mr. McClellan responded to Mr. Dole publicly, saying, “I have had time to reflect and go back, and what I’m saying is sincere.”
“I have a lot of respect for Sen. Dole,” he added.