Category Archive 'Bob Woodward'

28 Feb 2013

Woodward at War With White House

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The big news of the day is the outbreak of open war between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and Barack Obama.

Woodward last week challenged the Obama Administration’s blaming Republicans for the Sequester, pointing out that the idea of an automatic trigger was originated by the White House in July of 2011.

There was immediate pushback from the left’s commentariat, disputing his interpretation and dismissing the once-admired Nixon-slayer as “troutmouth Bob” and “a hack.”

Apparently, Woodward’s questioning the White House party-line on the grand budget battle du jour was perceived as potentially very damaging, because Woodward is retaliating now by revealing that when he discussed that upcoming column with the head of the President’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Woodward found himself on the receiving end of a half hour long tirade.

Sperling subsequently sent a lengthy email, in which he apologized for “raising his voice,” but which also asserted (obviously falsely) that Woodward was wrong about the fact in issue (that the Sequester proposal was initiated by the White House, and not by congressional Republicans), and warning him that he “will regret staking out that claim.”

Threatening prominent reporters is an awfully bold and bad thing for any administration to do, and historically trying to intimidate the press has not worked out well for those who’ve tried it.

Bob Woodward (not surprisingly) retaliated by releasing the email exchange.

Rather than being intimidated, of course, Bob Woodward is responding to the attempts to pressure him to shut up by openly attacking Barack Obama’s decisions in other areas. Yesterday, Woodward took a swipe at Obama’s declining to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf “because of budget cuts.” (See video)

27 Sep 2010

Barack Obama: The Art of Leadership By Unwelcome Compromise

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Paul Mirengoff sums up what we’ve learned from today’s installment of Bob Woodward’s account of Barack Obama’s performance as Commander-in-Chief.

You can see why he needed to remove that bust of Churchill from the Oval Office. It would have represented a constant reproach to Obama’s timid version of leadership.

Obama was unable to browbeat the military brass into providing him with a military option consistent with the kind of commitment he wanted to make to the Afghan fight. To be sure, Obama was handicapped by the fact that the military didn’t believe that fighting a war at Obama’s level of commitment made sense. But it is still disconcerting to read about a president this lacking in force of personality and this unable to command respect.

Next, Woodward confirms that the strategy Obama ultimately came with was, indeed, a compromise between two approaches, both of which seem more plausible: (1) fighting at the level of commitment (both in terms of troop levels and timing) the military thinks is necessary to succeed or (2) drawing down our troop level and focusing on selective strikes designed to disrupt the Taliban. The first option had the support of the military, including those who designed and carried out the successful Iraq surge. The second option had the support of Vice President Biden, perhaps (and what a sad commentary this is) the closest thing to an adult and quasi-expert in Obama’s inner circle.

The compromise option Obama came up with apparently was not advocated by anyone who claims expertise in this area.

Finally, Woodward confirms what has been painfully obvious from Obama’s language (including body language) for months. The U.S. President doesn’t much believe in the strategy pursuant to which he is sending American troops into harm’s way. According to Woodward, Obama, after noting that “the easy thing for me to do, politically, would actually be to say no” to sending in 30,000 additional troops, began to say he would be “perfectly happy” not to send them in. Stopping in mid-sentence, Obama then projected his feelings (accurately enough) on to Rahm Emanuel: “Nothing would make Rahm happier than if I said no to the 30,000.” …

After formulating a compromise no one seems to have really believed in, Obama the lawyer-in-chief reduced it to a six page “term sheet.” He also insisted that “we’re not going to do this unless everybody literally signs on to it and looks me in the eye and tells me they are for it.”

Was Obama really foolish enough to believe that this sort of ceremony would provide him with historical cover? Woodward’s one useful function in this affair, perhaps an unwitting one, is to help make sure that it won’t.

26 Jan 2009

Bob Woodward Predicts New Obama Scandal

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Appearing on the Chris Matthews Show Sunday, Bob Woodward offered a rather cryptic prediction of scandal that will plague the Obama White House.

“This may be tantalizing but vague,” said the Washington Post scribe. “I don’t think the nanny or household tax problems and so forth are over for the Obama administration…”

Matthews pressed ever so slightly for more information, but Woodward did not oblige: “I say it’s not over.”

0:23 video

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