Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bob Woodward: It's Getting Painful to Watch

     At some point he jumped the shark. Unfortunately, Woodward seems determined to wear his absurdity like a badge of honor, a la Dan Quayle. Now he's taking his Very Serious Person act to Sean Hannity It's a shame as he has been an American institution for 40 years since his epic work on Watergate. However, at this point, he is regrettably embarrassing himself. The more silly he looks and sounds the more he doubles down on the crazy. He claims he "hasn't seen madness like this in a long time" referring to the President's stance on the sequester. Let's take a look at his comments and then ask where exactly the madness is coming from.

     "Woodward appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," calling President Obama's decision not to send an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf because of the looming defense cuts "a kind of madness."

    "Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there saying, 'Oh, by the way, I can't do this because of some budget document?'" Woodward said. "Or George W. Bush saying, 'You know, I'm not gonna invade Iraq, because I can't get the aircraft carriers I need?' Or even Bill Clinton saying, 'You know, I'm not going to attack Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters' -- as he did when Clinton was President -- because of some budget document? Under the Constitution, the President is Commander in Chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out, because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can't do what I need to do to protect the country. That's a kind of madness that I haven't seen in a long time."

     He's been on and on about this mystical Presidential Will and Leadership-sounding like a German Idealist philosopher run amok-for awhile. He argues that the President doesn't know how to wield Presidential power. It's good to see him finally give us some examples of it being used effectively. 

     He's really going to hold up George W. Bush as a model of Presidential leadership? Mr . Woodward is apparently the last person in America unaware that Bush and his Administration based this invasion on false documents and lies to the American people and before the United Nations. Is that who Obama should be emulating? We wish that something had made him decide not to invade Iraq. If a sequester would have done the trick. so be it. For that matter, while I love Clinton, his bombing of an aspirin factory in Sudan was not his finest hour. I don't think we even have to comment on Reagan: he sure didn't listen to Congress before he did Iran-Contra.  All Woodward's examples of his mystical Presidential Leadership are actually quite sordid. If Obama hasn't emulated them we can only be grateful. 

    Woodward simply makes himself look increasingly ridiculous the way he's running around shrieking to Joe Scarborough and Sean Hannity about the Obama Administration's "abuse of power." You know where someone at the White House may have "yelled at me." Then sent an email apologizing that said he'd regret his sequester claim. You'll regret it! Maybe we should start a new independent Congressional investigation like they did for Watergate-Darrell Issa would no doubt be happy to oblige. 

     This is what's really painful. This is Bob Woodward for God's sake. He and Bernstein broke Watergate. For him to sit here and build a mountain out of the smallest molehill actually trivializes both real Presidential abuse of power like Nixon achieved on an unprecedented scale, and also his own history covering it. 

     So yes, no doubt the Obama official-Gene Sperling- is right. Woodward at some point will regret this. Not because there's a hit on his life but because he's really harming his own credibility. If his aim is to do just that, hanging out with Sean Hannity is an inspired move. 

      At this point, whether or not Woodward feels regret yet-I get that this is a very loaded term in his mind-the conservative media is already feeling regret: for taking Woodward seriously. 

    "Now that the correspondence between Bob Woodward and the White House has been revealed as tame and cordial, conservative commentators are reacting with disappointment to the veteran journalist's claim that he was threatened over his sequestration reporting."

    "Politico on Thursday posted the emails between Woodward and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling, who told Woodward, "as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."

    "Looks like we were played," The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis wrote Thursday morning.

     What may be going on is that Woodward is a great who has stayed in the game a little too long. He doesn't look too old but his actions are doing nothing but diminishing his stature. Sperling was a friend and Woodward should have taken his advice.

    P.S. It just occurred to me that the central irony in Woodward's whole "Presidential Will and Leadership" narrative is that the problem with the big scandal that made him-Watergate-the problem was that we had a President in Nixon who did what Woodward is urging Obama to do-simply ignore Congress. Woodward's whole argument here is just surreal. 




1 comment: