Week in Review: McClellan's Book, Delegate Count

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr talks with Scott Simon about the week's news, including Scott McClellan's recent memoir and the Democratic presidential primaries.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes a tell-all book that is intensely critical of the Bush administration, and the Obama and Clinton campaigns lobby Democratic Party leaders on how to handle disputed primaries in Michigan and Florida. NPR senior analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi Scott.

SIMON: And Mr. McClellan's book...

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: Scintillating allegations. Do they raise more questions about the integrity of the administration or the integrity of Scott McClellan?

SCHORR: Yeah, I'll get to your question in a moment but I have to tell you something which crossed my mind.

SIMON: Yeah.

SCHORR: Every September the Library of Congress and Laura Bush sponsor a national book festival.

SIMON: Yes.

SCHORR: Which includes a visit to the White House. Do you think Scott McClellan will be invited?

SIMON: Well, I wouldn't wager - let me simply say for the record, 'cause you and I have both been guests at Laura Bush-sponsored festivals.

SCHORR: Yes indeed.

SIMON: They invite plenty of authors who disagree with administration policies.

SCHORR: Okay.

SIMON: However, maybe not this one.

SCHORR: Now to your question.

SIMON: Yeah.

SCHORR: I'll tell you, I have a personal problem in trying to understand why everybody gets so upset. Most of what I've read - I haven't read the book, but I've read many summaries of it, and most of what I've read indicate that what he had to say that in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq they put out a lot of things which were basically lies to try to justify it all. Yeah we knew that.

That President Bush himself gave the permission to tell a lie about Valerie Plame, the woman in the CIA - that was - came from him. You get a little fillip here and there of something new, but basically the story, awfully sad story of how they lied us into a war was basically known.

SIMON: As you know, his detractors suggests he's not telling the truth now. He's just figured out a way to sell books.

SCHORR: His detractors, of whom there are very many, say that he is disgruntled. Judging by where that book is on the bestseller list, I think he's very gruntled, myself. He feels that they didn't treat him well; they didn't invite him into meetings where they did all the plotting and all. And then it comes a point where, probably where somebody like Peter Osnos's publisher coming and saying hey, I think we can write a real socko book, and the thing grows on him, and after a while, yes, look at what he's done.

SIMON: Representative Robert Wexler of Florida said that he should testify under oath to the House Judiciary Committee.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: His successor, one of his successors, Dana Perino said that she thought the White House could invoke executive privilege. Do you think he will be subpoenaed?

SCHORR: I don't know if he'll be subpoenaed, I don't think a subpoena would be successful in this case. I'm not a big authority on executive privilege, which keeps coming up, but it's truly a person who was a press secretary to the president can probably rightly be said that that is covered by executive privilege. In any event, they can run out the clock on this.

Anything they want to make an issue of now, go to court, this administration will be finished before they can do anything about it. So it's not serious.

SIMON: Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting to try and resolve the disputed primaries or lack thereof in Florida and Michigan after the party told them not to hold them. What are the possible outcomes?

SCHORR: Well, there are various possibilities. One that if you speak of possibilities, possibilities that the 30-member committee will reach an agreement about what to do about the Michigan and Florida delegations. They may seat all of them; they may seat none of them. The likelihood is that they'll look for a compromise somewhere in between. That is, either seat half of the delegation or seat all of the delegation with a half vote.

SIMON: Is there any possible outcome, though, that could move Senator Clinton substantially closer to the nomination?

SCHORR: Yes, if she won basically, in Michigan and Florida, she won those primaries. And if they were all...

SIMON: Because Senator Obama didn't compete.

SCHORR: In Michigan, Senator Obama didn't compete. But theoretically my mathematical reasoning doesn't take me that far as to how close she comes. She would be measurably closer if she were to get those delegates.

SIMON: Puerto Rico has its Democratic primary on Sunday, then the primary season ends by the third...

SCHORR: No, I can't imagine - six months of primaries, what am I going to do for amusement?

SIMON: A lot of, a lot of Americans feel that way. Primaries in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. Do you expect superdelegates to make commitments shortly thereafter?

SCHORR: Yeah, I think that after that, superdelegates - the whole process really begins when the primary season ends. And as you said, next Tuesday are the last two Democratic primaries plus one Republican primary, and after that it's supposedly all over. At that point you're supposed to say, okay, we count delegates, you win, you don't win, so on. Doesn't work that way with Senator Clinton.

She's going to stick into it as long as she can and it is still possible that she'll simply - will go and make an appeal to the whole convention because she doesn't want to give up.

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: Sure thing.

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