Judging from first reports, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has little to say about the president that most of us didn’t already know. That doesn’t speak well of somebody, but I’m not sure whom. Maybe McClellan, for a so-called insider’s account that reads as if it was written from news clips. Maybe George W. Bush, for being a man of so little complexity that what you see up close is pretty much what you can see from a mile away.

Or maybe the blame lies with the journalists who wrote those first reports on McClellan’s memoir, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. It might take a closer reading than they had time for to tease out what’s actually new and important in it (if anything is).  A reporter on deadline would have skimmed the book for the seemingly good stuff, the passages that preach to the choir of Bush loathers who are McClellan’s likely readers. 

At any rate, according to Mike Allen at politico.com, to Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, and to Ken Herman of Cox News Service, whose story appeared in the Chicago Tribune, here’s what McClellan asserts:

That some of his own press briefings were “badly misguided” and that the media were “complicit enablers” as Bush primed the nation for war in Iraq. That the Bush administration used “innuendo and implication” to sell the nation on the idea that the U.S. needed to invade because Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, when the real reason for the invasion was Bush’s desire to transform the Middle East. The result was a war that “was not necessary” and a “serious strategic blunder.”

That Bush suffered from a “lack of inquisitiveness” and a “resistance to reflection,” and made decisions “based on his gut and his most deeply held convictions,” not to mention “self-deception.” That when Bush wanted to do something, “contradictory intelligence was largely ignored or simply disregarded” by the White House, which Bush had stocked with yes-men who made little attempt to get him “to pause long enough to fully consider the consequences before moving forward.”

That when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial.”

Not exactly inside baseball, is it? The game McClellan got to watch from the dugout is the same one the rest of us saw from the bleachers.