Don’t just take my word, ask a professional (or two). Dave Weigel explains “How Bob Woodward’s Book Debunks His Big Washington Post Op-Ed”:
Bob Woodward’s been banging the tables of various talk shows for weeks, making the same fairly banal point: The White House proposed sequestration as part of a package to raise the debt limit in 2011. Watching Woodward in action has been disconcerting for the many reporters who covered the story in real time. Did the White House float sequestration as a “trigger” to force a better, later deal from Congress? Yes. Would this have ever become an issue if Republicans hadn’t chosen to hogtie the debt limit and hold a sixgun to its head for six months? No. So who cares?
Banal, like I said, until Woodward’s Friday Washington Post column on the topic. The Post blasted this out to its news alert list with the subject “EXCLUSIVE: Obama Misled; He and Jack Lew Planted Seeds For Disastrous Sequester.” That cranked it up from banal to outright strange. First, Woodward’s been talking about Obama’s slippery denial of ownership of sequestration all year. Second, as Brian Beutler points out, Woodward himself gets the point of sequestration totally wrong…
To argue that the White House is “moving the goal posts” when it now asks for revenue in a sequestration replacement, you have to toss out the fact that the White House always wanted revenue in the supercommittee’s sequestration replacement. This isn’t confusing unless reporters make it confusing.
Here’s Ezra Klein, on those “moving goalposts”:
… The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.
There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.
The second was the 2012 election. If Republicans won, then that would pretty much settle it: No tax increases. If President Obama won, then that, too, would pretty much settle it: The American people would’ve voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.
Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it’s worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren’t set in backroom deals between politicians. They’re set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.
…Commentator David Frum has said, perhaps partly tongue-in-cheek, that Washington officials can learn something about the way Washington works from Woodward’s books: “From his books, you can draw a composite profile of the powerful Washington player. That person is highly circumspect, highly risk averse, eschews new ideas, flatters his colleagues to their face (while trashing them to Woodward behind their backs), and is always careful to avoid career-threatening confrontation. We all admire heroes, but Woodward’s books teach us that those who rise to leadership are precisely those who take care to abjure heroism for themselves.”…
Only tinfoil-hat conspiracists and firebaggers are supposed to wonder whether Bob Woodward has been working for the Permanent National Security State ever since his Naval days, but Troutmouth Bob continues to make it clear that when it comes to Democratic administrations, he’s with his longtime dinner-party compatriots — “They trashed the place, and it wasn’t their place.”