'Lipstick On A Pig'

Abraham Lincoln once said: "Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed."

Those are the opening words in a new book, "Lipstick on a Pig," written by Washington insider Torie Clarke, who formerly worked as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

As Clarke explained to The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, she never had believed in an "era of spin." She added, "When you are talking about 24/7 news, information that moves around the world with incredible volume and velocity, it doesn't hold up."

Clarke worked with Sen. John McCain during his early years in the Senate, when McCain was among those involved in a scandal during the middle of the savings and loan crisis. Clarke said she learned a lot about how to control such incidents from the way he reacted to that situation.

What did McCain do?

"He didn't do what the other four senators did," recalled Clarke. "They pretty much went underground on the story and decided, 'If we don't talk about it and don't answer questions about it, maybe people won't notice it.'

"He (McCain) said, 'To heck with that. I'm going to lean into this and answer every question and do every interview and tell my side of the story again and again and again, because I believe the more people see and hear, the more they'll recognize I didn't really do anything that terrible.'

"He was right," concluded Clarke. "The allegations unanswered are sometimes challenges accepted. … Confess your mistakes — and do it early and do it often."

Clarke also said that if you don't say "I was wrong" six times a year, you aren't really being honest.

Storm brought up Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Clarke's former boss at the Pentagon, as someone who a lot of people say, never admits he's wrong.

Clarke disagreed strongly. "He absolutely does. Anybody who spends a lot of time with him, or the reporters that cover him all the time at the Pentagon, will tell you the same thing."

So why does Rumsfeld have that reputation?

"He has a reputation for being very tough," countered Clarke. "You want a tough secretary of defense. You don't want a wimp. You want someone that believes in important principles and follows through on them. But he always encouraged all of us, everyone who work for him and around him, to say, 'If I make a mistake, let me know and let's clear it up.'"

  • Ellen Crean

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