The WaPo has a rundown of his Today show appearance:
McClellan, in turn, said it took him some time after leaving the White House to come to terms with his experience there. When the Iraq war started, “my beliefs were different,” he told “Today.” “I trusted the president’s foreign policy team and I believed the president when he talked about the great and gathering danger from Iraq. I believe the president believed it too. He had convinced himself.
“I don’t think this is a book that I could have written two years ago,” McClellan added. “[I] struggled as I went through this book process. I struggled to come to grips with how things went so badly off course.”
More here at MSNBC, and here is the actual interview:
As a side note, I imagine that Irving Janis and groupthink are going to be referenced frequently in the next few years as the Bush administration post-mortems begin in earnest. Janis outlined the symptoms:
In order to make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink (1977).
1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
One of the classic examples of groupthink Janis refers to is the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Keep this list in mind when you watch the video, particularly the response from Rove, Bartlett and others to McClellan’s book. Probably something folks like me should also keep in mind when discussing the Clinton campaign.
L. Ron Obama
For a moment there, I thought this was a post about TalkLeft.
Wow, interesting that you reference Janis. Hadn’t read anything on/by him since college, but mentally reference the concept often. Seems oh-so-relevant now, doesn’t it?
Another always-relevant take:
The March of Folly: from Troy to Vietnam
Add the symptoms of groupthink to a bunch of guys already suffering from severe PTM and you have a clusterfuck in the making.
phoebes in santa fe
I love the comments from the Bush-loyalists, who look bewilderly at Scott McClellan and say, “Well, he never said anything to me or anyone else here about this stuff.”
From everything I’ve read, dissent and questioning of any sort is not welcome in the Bush Whitehouse. Scott would have been out earlier on his pasty white ass had he “questioned”.
The Moar You Know
Shorter McLellan: “I remember the Nuremburg trials.”
Hear, hear. And I say that as an Obama supporter (though one who thinks Clinton would make a fine candidate and president too).
The Other Steve
He was on NPR this morning. It was still surreal.
The host asked him if he no longer respected Bush, and McClellan equivocated a lot on this. He admitted that they were so terribly wrong, and that the use of propaganda and misinformation created an illusion of a necessary war when it was not.
But then he said Bush really meant well, and he still loved and respected him.
You know, because he meant well, even if he was wrong.
So far, we have Groupthink Bingo plus Drink! whenever anyone says “Not as bad as…”
It’s a start.
The Other Steve
If you want another Republican in the Whitehouse.
The Putzstaffel of the right-wing blogosphere ( I copyrighted tht, btw).
When lecturing about groupthink in my intro psych class, I had difficulty in finding examples that today’s students could relate to. They’ve never heard of the bay of pigs and have only a minimal knowledge of the Challenger explosion. A few years ago I started using the run up to the Iraq war as an example. That caused some raised eyebrows at first, in this heavily military town, but now I get nods. It’s a good example.
Todays GOP word of the day: “Inconsistent”
It’s the word used again and again to describe scotty.
There is a great 60 Minutes piece about the Challenger that goes well with the discussion, with the engineers who tried to stop it interviewed at length.
Interesting clip from Tucker this morning:
1. If what Scotty says is true, the war is absurd. (focus of the above GOS diary)
2. There isn’t going to be a post-mortem because people don’t want to hear about it.
I’d never heard of Janis before. Thanks for that. I’ll look him up.
Thanks. I’ll look it up.
Bay of Pigs?
I suppose that wouldn’t be bad as long as all your students LOOKED like Dana Perino at least. Rawr!
But TEACHING a class full of Dana Perino’s would want to make me go diving for tungstun filaments in this mountain of old lightbulbs in this old Soviet industrial town and then take a bath in hydrogen peroxide.
Let us put an end to the “Dana Perino is teh hawtt” meme. Now. She may be cute by Washington standards, but is that how we want to live? It’s just a short ride on the Metro from there to “Intelligent by Washington standards” and “Morally centered by Washington standards”.
I’m beginning to think groupthink is a symptom of the top down infrastructure not only of the Republicans, but of the Clinton campaign, as you have noted.
When you have usually reasonable bloggers unquestionably parroting Clinton campaign talking points wholesale the same way Republican bloggers generally parrot the party line, that’s a major indication that the disease has taken hold.
Deep-sixing any dissent means they have gotten too close to the group core. We’re seeing some of the outer fringes shrugging off their groupthink bonds (groupthink Judases) displaying a welcome rationality in drips and drabs. Some, however, may be lost forever. Or worse, emerge a year later after they’ve destroyed (or attempted to do so) the party to a “My God, what have I done?” moment. I don’t envy them.
Kos was complaining a while ago that Obama’s team didn’t have an official blog presence. I’m fucking grateful that they didn’t see the need with their grassroots operation. If I witnessed the same level of intellectually dishonest arguments from both candidates being parroted incessantly by their partisans I would’ve likely said, “Fuck off.” to the lot of them and spent time doing more productive things than worrying about the fate of the fucking Democratic Party.
Did I mention that I hate being a political junkie?
The first sign of group-think is banning. I like the
Balloon Juice method of ” you wanna come in here and Troll? Bring it, and pack a lunch. We’ll hand your ass back to you when we’re finished. And God help you if you don’t have at least a slight grasp of the facts.”
Banning? That would take away all the fun.
I’m not scared of an alternative point of view, but don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
Dana Perino NABLA (Not As Bad Looking As) Greta VanSustren (sp?)
It’s the hotness combined with an obvious passion for authoritarian domination that makes her so intriguing.
The Moar You Know
No way. It’s those cute, perky, super-repressed ones who are crazed animals in the sack. Dana does it for me big time. If I got a shot at her, I’d hit it so hard that if you could pull me out, you’d be King of England.
The Other Steve
The Rachel Ray thing made Good Morning America. Apparently because Dunkin Donuts pulled the ad.
The hosts showed the two pictures, and everybody was like… “WHAT THE FUCK!? They don’t even look at all the same. That scarf Ray is wearing isn’t even the same. Lot’s of people wear scarves. I don’t understand this.”
And yet here you are.
BTW- a agree with the premise of your comment. DFA kind of turned into that, and I quit reading the comments early on.
Re: The Challenger Disaster. Richard Feynman’s autobiography also has a really good section on this. From Wikipedia: “Feynman’s account reveals a disconnect between NASA’s engineers and executives that was far more striking than he expected. His interviews of NASA’s high-ranking managers revealed startling misunderstandings of elementary concepts.” He also gave a commencement address once about cargo cult science, which I’m afraid is the kind of science we’re getting during the Bush administration.
Re: McLellan. Britt Hume was on WTOP today essentially saying McLellan was weak and bitter about his experience in a job for which he was woefully unqualified. IIRC, to me McLellan appeared to be essentially a nice guy who didn’t feel comfortable with lying, which is why he was picked for that position. They knew he would come off as sincere as long as he believed he was speaking the truth, and they fed him the necessary info to keep that going. Just my two cents.
As to the actual topic, I heard Dana describe McClellan as a “disgruntled former employee”. I suppose Scotty was gruntled until a couple of years later when he became “disgruntled”.
I have no opinion of why Scott felt the need to purge himself of these demons now. Perhaps he just felt a need to purge and make lots of money while he was at it.
Or perhaps it’s just simply easier to slam a former employer after one gets out from under their employ.
The Moar You Know
And that, in one sentence, is why I fled the GOS with nothing but the keyboard in my lap – to come here and revel in the sweet white pixels of freedom.
That sound you hear is Malkin and by extension the Right wing blogosphere hitting the cement after a 30 floor drop.
Bravo, well played.
First the George Tennant book, now this. I expect that bookstores will be packed with ” I never really agreed with George ” books in the next few years.
I can hardly wait for the Cheney version : ” I Shot the Wrong Guy. “
I saw this advertised (and promoted by) Hillaryis44
They are actually promoting this as a penetrating insight into Obama’s campaign.
A propagandist who was the mouth piece for an administration could be prosecuted just like the rest of the admin for the shit that went on and ignorance is not bliss.
My guess is while he is going to make a fortune on this book, he also has a conscience which is probably one reason he didn’t work out too well in the admin overall. Look at the rest of the press hacks and there is no evidence of conscience whatsoever.
I read the stories. I quit reading the comments a long time ago.
I have been hanging around the GOS for years, only bannings I have seen are for 911 truther stuff or blatant violations of the terms of service such as racism, constant personal attacks etc. Of course I wasn’t around when a ton of people had their ratings abilities stripped.
I’ve been a little discouraged this morning that so many folks on progressive websites want to badmouth McClellan as vitriolically as the Bushies do. What purpose does it serve to dismiss what he’s written by saying it’s all about the book sales? Or that he should have said it while he was still PS?
I wouldn’t want to sit down and have a drink w him (if I drank…) or get all huggy all-is-forgiven, but I don’t need to automatically assume the worst about his motives. Main thing – whatever his motives, his book serves the purpose of affirming what we’ve been arguing all along (those of us who aren’t relatively recent converts like John… ;). Let’s take what he offers and use it as best we can.
Actually that is on-topic since we’re discussing group think.
Why I DGaFF about Scott Tissue’s book, Exhibit A.
Screw these passive voice thinking clowns who’d like us to believe that things just happen and really, we were just swept along by random events over which we had no control and no one could have possibly foreseen…
The Grand Panjandrum
Democrats are often ridiculed for ending up in the circular firing squad, but it does have its advantages. Herding cats is a tough nut to crack.
At least one of the co-authors of that “book” is a LaRouchie. Nice associates you have there, HillaryIs44.
I know a lot of people, on the left and right, are sliming this guy right now, but do keep in mind that this story is igniting a firestorm on multiple fronts for Bush and the Repug establishment + all their enablers. Greenwald does a typically good job covering the impact on the main stream media of Scottie’s bombshell and some related shellings:
I respectfully submit that a constructive thing to do right now is to scream for Congressional investigation into the role of the press in actively colluding with the White House. Hell if they can investigate something as benign as steroids in baseball, they can investigate government, propaganda and manipulation of public opinion via the MSM.
I’ve been bitching about the Bush Administration’s Mindless Group Think for YEARS. Like, since I learned what it was called back in 2001. But of course, I was just being a smartass college student. grr
More fun from Hillaryis44
So maybe McClellan does have a conscience and that’s what made him such a clumsy liar. But he cannot possibly have been the blushing virgin he would have us believe him to be. Nobody’s that f&cking stupid.
The Other Steve
If the lefties were to embrace McClellan, that would discredit what he is saying.
You obviously don’t understand how the media portrays things.
The Other Steve
Have you read through some of what John Cole was writing in 2003 and 2004?
That’s a bit of a reach. He said US forces should follow Taliban fighters across the boarder if they fled into Pakistan. That gets blown up into a full-fledged invasion by the crazy people.
hey, i’m remembering the Cole BS on Katrina in 2005.
he sounded remarkably like Scotty at that time.
now granted, the POTUS press secretary probably knew more than a humble blogger but still…
I won’t have much opinion about McClellan until I get to read his book. I kind of feel better late than never. I know how easy it is to get caught up by group think; we’ve seen lots of examples of it recently.
“They are actually promoting this as a penetrating insight into Obama’s campaign.”
That’s a Lulu vanity-press book. It might be fun to pick apart the insanity.
When you spend 20 years in the frame that the other side is evil and every criticism is a partisan attack, it is amazing how fucked up your thinking can become.
Oof. Can the boarder at least wear body armor while the Taliban fighters and US forces are racing across him or her?
Then, in the same breath, these people turn around and say “McClellan was not privy to a lot of cabinet discussions”. What a load of crap – either he had the ability to influence policy, or he was outside of the loop. The two choices are mutually exclusive. Of course, in the wingnut mind, logic and reason don’t exist: what’s important to the 28%ers is that they believe what they are told, without question.
Maybe this has something to do with the fact that McClellan still has all his arms and legs, and was not labeled a traitor by the White House and the Republican media machine in 2003 and 2004.
It must be tough for a useful idiot who’s not a complete psychopath to come to terms with the fact that he enabled the death of hundreds of thousands of people, for entirely political purposes that have nothing to do with national security.
Aaaagh! It’s the spelling Talibam!!!
Quantitative Data on “Political Attacks” by 2008 Campaigns
I’m disappointed in the GOP slime machine. Their attacks on McClellan have been so feeble compared to what they did to Clarke and Fitzgerald. “Disappointed”? “Not the Scott we knew”? It seems like their hearts just aren’t in it anymore.
Bush/Cheney campaign director twitters:
The photo of RR has her standing in front of the Oregon capital building in Salem, so apparently the jihadists have taken over our legislature as well as our donut supply.
Oregonian newspaper story this morning says she was in a studio in L.A. and a file photo of the building added later, also that the scarf was chosen by a wardrobe stylist who just wanted a bit of color for the shoot.
Next big scare: an Absolut Vodka bottle draped in a kaffiyeh.
Well, yes and no. There were guys who were dumb and guys who played dumb. And there was a very smart boss who’d made it clear that anyone under him ever voting no on a launch status call would be ending their career.
At JSC/KSC, Challenger was considered negligent homicide, not misguided groupthink. Never refer to it as an accident in front of them.
The Columbia Accident, on the other hand, groupthink played a role across technical and management staff.
snark aside, they really do share the same mindset – everything’s a conspiracy; we’re all pawns in the power-games of secretive global elites; everybody is working quadruple-bank-shots involving the Saudis, the Jews, and the Old Boy’s Club; nobody tells the truth (except Hillary!); and only they know the truth.
they differ from 9/11 truthers only in the object of their attention.
For all the psych professionals out there, is there any connection between the groupthink elements #3 (illusion of rightiousness) and #4 (stereoptyping of opponents) with the persistent phenomenon of projection of the groupthinkers’ sins onto the opposition?
It is such a persistent and thorough trait that I wonder if there is a structural, subconscious source for this – the brain knows that it is doing something wrong and untruthful, and the conscious self copes with a rebellion of the subconscious self by finding and external target for the spirit of moral condemnation that is experienced by the subconscious?
I like the concept of “mindguards” – it describes Powerline and Malkin to a T.
Klutzwaffe and Jeermacht.
I like those.
You stole my line!
i hear Palestinians are fond of falafel, and there’s a place that sells the stuff, right down the street from me!
i’d better alert Michelle Malkontent immediately!
Please do something with your crappy server. Its about a 50/50 chance of getting in, with no rhyme or reason to when it will crash and burn.
Your turning into a prolific writer that is starting to gather some acclaim and influence in the sphere. But being locked out for half the hours of the day is frustrating as hell.
I see 100+ comments on a regular basis which is putting you up into the big boy network. I bet the hit count would be higher if potential regulars didn’t hit the big lock up or the word press $WE SUCK DONKEY DICKS$ error page.
I only whine cause I care
Wheeze goink 2 whar
this is how it starts. Link Iran to Iraq? Nobody cares. Link ’em to Hezzy? Snorefest. But now they’re in cahoots with the fuckers who attacked us? Well, that’s grounds for revenge!
September we hit ’em.
Well, since Mulder, Scully and The Lone Gunmen left ’em in the lurch, something has to keep the Hamster Wheels occupied.
Well, for those seeking real life examples of groupthink, look at cliques of people using drugs (not in an offhand, occasional way, but as a major part of their reason for being). They usually meet all 8 of these criteria. I would argue that the desire for conformity and group solidarity is especially strong among those who are committed to a course of action that they know would be rejected among mainstream social opinion — whether it’s gangs or presidential advisers promoting war and torture.
One of the tragic things about the Challenger disaster is that the engineers knew that there was a greater risk of damage to the O-rings as the weather got colder, but their presentation didn’t convince the management to scrub the launch. Edward Tufte’s “Visual Explanations” has a good discussion.
The engineers presented this chart, which shows O-ring damage in chronological order but doesn’t illustrate the correlation between temperature and O-ring damage (and is hella ugly to boot). Tufte’s chart shows that O-rings were damaged in every launch where the temperature was below 65 degrees, and the damage got worse in lower temperatures. The forecast for Challenger’s launch was 26-29 degrees.
At what point is it appropriate to break out into another stirring rendition of Scotty Doesn’t Know?
Not my area of psychology. Sorry.
I’ve decided to boycott Dunkin’ Donuts for pulling Rachel’s advertisement. Since Arab terrorism was seen sybolized in her scarf, I’ve also decided to boycott milk. Yes, that stuff that comes from cows. Everything that comes out of their fat asses sybolizes the GOP retards. Kill all the fucking terrorist cows!
I actually started feeling slightly sorry for McClellan today. The shitstorm over his defection only emphasizes how far conservatism has fallen to become a degraded, vindictive cult.
Whatever the motive, he deserves at least some credit for finally leaving it.
“Group think” huh? Not to put this wonderful “Balloon Juice” into question but if memory serves, there have been a few threads where we Obama supporters jumped on the Hillary trolls. Might be worth the instant analysis by the intro psyche students, without looking too hard for many examples.
Tufte may get data presentation, but he doesn’t get psychology. There was no data representation that was going to convince a certain manager he wasn’t going to lose his job. His “there was no data” act was CYA, but it convinced at least some of the investigators that he was just a moron. The engineers knew he was playing politics.
I had the same thought. Tolerating “trolls” is a good thing, patiently rebutting them point by point is even better. The majority of them may be time wasting a-holes, but some of them are actually somebody you should be listening to, and if you are asking yourself the question: “how do I tell which is which?”, then you are on the right track.
Best example of walking back the cat EVAH. It’s not a question of pointing fingers, it’s a question of “Exactly how in the name of flying lizard fuck did this happen? Precisely?”
“Dude, that subsystem assembly was schweet! It took over three times the stress the designers called for!”
“That was a worst-case event. It should never have showed signs of stress at all, if I’m reading this right. There should have been a special red light inside the commander’s helmet that flashed if compression went over a part per billion.”
“But the assembly kicked ass! Check out the maintenance sheets! Hoo-ah!”
Then there’s the Carly Fiorina wanna-be who makes Lindsay from _The Abyss_ look like the Oracle from _The Matrix._ Feynmann uses primitive sign language and a highly simplified pictogram alphabet to try to explain the concept of “what if someone on the team disagrees with the majority report? Thesis, anithesis, synthesis? Is this thing on?” I don’t think she ever really got it.
Thank God somebody is using this thing as a cluebat on America’s impressionable young minds. I sometimes talk to kids who are too divorced from causality to even get enthusiastic about the healing power of crystals or dressing in black and trying to summon Satan. It’s scary.
If Aquavit or Absolute or another of those vodka brands wants to get REALLY talked about right now, they should run an ad of one of their bottles wrapped in a kaffiyeh and the phase “Not a Terrorist” under it.
Almost wish I owned a vodka company right now. I’d have so much fun twisting the tails of the Malkinites….
That paragraph perfectly describes the leftwingnut blogs, including cole and all the balloonspit gang