Magazine article The New Yorker

EXPLAIN THIS ONE DEPT. OF COINCIDENCE Series: 4/5

Magazine article The New Yorker

EXPLAIN THIS ONE DEPT. OF COINCIDENCE Series: 4/5

Article excerpt

When Scott McClellan, an unassuming thirty-five-year-old Texan, took over from Ari Fleischer as White House spokesman in July, it was clear that there would be no honeymoon with the press. American soldiers were being killed almost daily in Iraq. The federal deficit was growing; the likelihood of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not. Few, then, would have predicted that McClellan's first and most daunting damage-control assignment would turn out to be his own father.

Like most families, McClellan's has its glories and its embarrassments. His mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is divorced from his father, is a colorful and powerful political figure in Texas, where she serves as the state's comptroller. Before that, she was the mayor of Austin. Her longtime political alliance with the Bushes undoubtedly helped her son land a job as the spokesman for George W. when he was governor of Texas. McClellan's brother Mark is the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in Washington. McClellan's father, Barr, a writer and business consultant now living in Gulfport, Mississippi, also has an abiding interest in Texas politics, as well as a flair for producing mystery dramas at local theatres. Now the senior McClellan appears to have combined these talents by writing an ostensibly nonfiction book titled "Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K.," which will be published later this month. As the title suggests, Barr McClellan, the father of the White House spokesman, is charging that a previous President from Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Reached by phone last week at his home in Gulfport, Barr McClellan stressed that his theory is based not just on a decade's worth of research but also on his experience, during the sixties, as a young lawyer at Clark, Mathews, Thomas & Harris, the Austin law firm that handled Johnson's business affairs. McClellan's employment at the firm, he acknowledged, ended in a dispute over ethics and fruitless litigation over money. But by the time he left, he said, "I knew L.B.J. well. He was very brutal. I'd seen him in person. I'd been in Austin many years, and I knew a good bit about him." McClellan contends that when Kennedy was killed "everyone suspected there was a conspiracy, but they didn't know how it worked. …

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