Bob Woodward as the Anti-Cassandra

Marc Ambinder, in the Atlantic, imagines (parodies) “Being Bob Woodward“:

… Ambinder recalled how Woodward, as he promoted his final book on the Bush administration, predicted on television that Dick Cheney might run for president in 2008, something that Ambinder knew the former vice president had never even contemplated. And here again, having just released his latest tome, Obama’s Wars, Woodward did it again. “Damn it,” Ambinder said, pounding the table.
Woodward had told a CNN interviewer that Barack Obama might replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton as his running mate in 2012. It was “on the table,” Woodward had said…
“I can’t believe Woodward would say something like that,” Ambinder told his editor, Bob Cohn, over coffee in Cohn’s Watergate office the next day. “It suggests that he knows next to nothing about the president’s actual relationship with his vice president and secretary of state … or that he has done no reporting on the question at all. Which is absurd, because Woodward is a reporter’s reporter.”
Then again, Ambinder thought privately, one of the senior policy makers who played a starring role in Woodward’s latest book had characterized its conclusions as “60 percent right, 40 percent completely wrong.” And that was from a policy maker who came across favorably in the book…

Which reminded me about the failed predictions touted by another journopolitical macher, Michael Wolff, discussing Woodward’s last book in the December 2006 Vanity Fair:

Bush fires Cheney and names McCain as the replacement V.P.—although it is not yet entirely clear to me who tells Bush to fire Cheney, if not Cheney. The war in Iraq, except for the shooting, is so over. But between now and when, as the president has no doubt accurately described it, we “cut and run,” when there’s a final helicopter lifting from a Green Zone rooftop, there’s a whole third act to play…
Bob Woodward, the nation’s most famous journalist—a wooden and sanctimonious television presence, as well as an author of books and a reporter for The Washington Post—is a reasonable equivalent of Cronkite. If he’s going in another direction, the world has changed. He’s the power barometer. And broker. If he’s no longer sucking up to you, you better get out of town in a hurry.
You’ve lost if you’ve lost Woodward.

Wolff’s “Survivor: The White House Edition” is a fascinating read, in retrospect. Just four years ago, and already those anecdotes seem as distant as Woodward’s earlier overwritten tales of a drunken, desperate Richard Nixon.

But if anybody spots Henry Kissinger being smuggled into Obama’s White House…

26 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Jake says:

    I think you got the tags just right for this one.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    Always wrong. :-p

  3. 3
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Carl Bernstein was on O’Donnell’s show last night, trying to get Lawrence to cool his jets about Hillary as VP in 2012. Of the two (Woodward and Bernstein), I prefer listening to Carl talk about politics. Ol’ Larry was drooling about Hillary and Obama needing her for another “historic election” and Carl was trying not to get any of it on himself.

    O’Donnell is quickly losing me as an audience for his new show. He’s ok in small doses but give him and hour and bleh.

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    But so many people fell for this Hillary as VP nonsense, despite the fact that it is one of the Villagers’ most stale pieces of conventional wisdom. They are, coincidentally, the same people who feel Hillary would be tough on the Republicans because God knows the Clinton administration was all about being tough on the Republicans.

  5. 5
    Steve says:

    I love Woodward’s books. The sense that you’re getting an insight into the secret inner workings of government is so compelling that you end up not caring that most of it is probably bullshit. There’s plenty of truthiness in there and that’s all that really matters.

  6. 6
    bkny says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: i can’t agree more. i was really looking forward to his show because i was expecting him to provide real insight into the workings of congress. but his fucking monstrous ego is maddening. i couldn’t even watch that segment. christ, is it possible that someone is more obnoxious and full of himself than tweety?

  7. 7
    Jamie says:

    Time for Woodward to retire?

  8. 8
    Rhoda says:

    @bkny: I think his commentary during the health care debate; which was so counter productive and clearly he thought would fail since his more conservative plan did made it plain.

    The guy’s a showboat. He says some smart things and can throw a few punches; but over all he’s an ass to the right of Obama and the team in the White House.

  9. 9

    Does anyone outside the Beltway actually read those books? I mean, I read All the President’s Men and the follow-up, but those were based on actual reporting. Bernstein must have been doing that part.

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:


    because God knows the Clinton administration was all about being tough on the Republicans.

    I never understood the Clinton response to the Republican smear campaigns. Did Bill and Hillary just assume they were Teflon untouchable and the Republicans were wasting their time? Was there a bunch of back room cigars and hookers between parties that made them feel the whole media spectacle politically irrelevant?

    I mean, I love the Big Dog. He’s definitely one of the best Presidents I’ve seen in my lifetime. But his middle-grounder stance was lukewarm at best through the 90s. And after ’00, the entire party finally just morphed into a pack of complete pussies.

  11. 11
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Q. How long can you ride on your earlier successes?
    A. Forever, if you are lucky enough to be a villager. Seriously can someone point me to anything he has done after Watergate that was path breaking or remarkable in anyway?

  12. 12
    bkny says:

    this ‘hillary as vp’ push by the villagers got its start with magpie queen sally quinn; it’s interesting to see woodward push it now right before an election. why, it’s almost like he/they are determined to provoke a dust-up among democratic factions…

  13. 13
    schrodinger's cat says:

    BTW is it me or does anyone else think that there is some resemblance between Woodward and the other beltway anti Cassandra, Bill Crystal.

  14. 14
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:


    After reading and watching Woodward for years I too am thinking that Bernstein must have carried Woodward’s ass through All the President’s Men. Of the two, Carl seems like he is more informed than Bob and less influenced by power. Woodward comes off as a kind of suck-up in the way he gets his stories.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:


    IIRC, that’s pretty much how it worked — Bernstein did the actual legwork and investigating and Woodward wrote the stories up because he was the better writer.

  16. 16
    geg6 says:

    Woodward has been a hack for decades. I am of the opinion that he’s been cruising on Watergate ever since and that Bernstein was the actual brains of the operation even then.

  17. 17
    Chat Noir says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I agree. The two look similar.

  18. 18
    eemom says:

    Somerby’s lunatic-savant cred proved once again, as he long ago called bullshit on O’Donnell.

    I can only imagine the level of apoplexy Woodward must induce. Don’t usually go over there anymore but this may be worth a look.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I believe Woodward also had some useful contacts through his Navy and Yale connections that provide vital info in the Watergate story. It always seemed to me like one of 80/20 things. Bernstein did 80% of the legwork, but Woodward’s 20% was necessary to tie everything together.

  20. 20
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Of the two (Woodward and Bernstein), I prefer listening to Carl talk about politics.

    Of the two, I prefer listening to Carl. Full stop.

    Woodward had the connections to Mark Felt and others, but Bernstein was the only journalist on that team. Woodward has been the print version of Geraldo for a generation.

  21. 21
    Jamie says:

    I was thinking of what having Robert Redford play you in a movie would do to your ego.

  22. 22
    patrick II says:

    I listened to Woodword being interviewed by Charlie Rose the other night and if I could have reached out and punched him I would have. Woodward asserted that President Obama, in his big test as a war president, didn’t have the will to win, he did not have what it takes to be a war president.
    Then Charlie — to his credit — followed up with questions about the winnability of the war, an end plan, don’t we owe the troops fighting and dieing over there some chance of an good outcome? Woodward avoided those questions and added that the Karzi government made it impossible to win, and that Obama felt the resources that were being used on the war could be better utilized somewhere else — which brought him full circle back to Obama just didn’t have the will to win.

    I was just beside myself. Charlie and Woodward sat there and listed multiple (more than I am listing here) reasons why this war needed to end, and then Woodward again asserted that we wouldn’t win as long as Obama wasn’t a committed war president.

    Pretty much like the guys who wanted Obama to dive down in the Gulf and personally plug the leak, Woodward kept repeating that, in spite of real world circumstances, if the president was only more determined we would be winning this thing.

    It was past infuriating. Someone give Woodward a unicorn.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    Hey, here’s a shocker: Lou Dobbs has employed illegal workers while ranting against them on teevee.

    Illegal workers for me but not for thee, eh, Lou?

  24. 24
    Alwhite says:

    In all of this I have one comment – people pretty much agree that Carl was the real reporter & better journalist. So what is he doing these days while Woody acts as Reporter Emeritus for the Washington Whore Post?

    “Show me respect son – I had to kiss A LOT of ass to get this job.”

  25. 25
    uloborus says:

    Okay, so: Tell me again why I should pay the slightest attention to the endless stream unscourced revelations about what Obama is really thinking and plans to do, honest? The replacement of national news with gossip columnists who think they’re journalists is disgusting me more every day.

    I’m tremendously uninterested in cable news personalities, so the Conway/Paul debate was the first time I had a chance to go ‘Oh, THAT’S Tweety?’ And my immediate thought was that he had the most amazingly punchable face. It’s that little smile, like you get on a three year old who’s POSITIVE he’s outsmarted the entire room.

    EDIT – Which, come to think of it, is how that Benen(sp?) guy described the bias of the entire mainstream news. They hold it as an ideal and an axiom of faith that they’re smarter than anybody who actually believes in or cares about anything.

  26. 26
    mike nichols says:

    Woodward of the Watergate Woodward & Bernstein is long long gone… his Watergate type reporting is being taken on by others

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