Bob Woodward is Still A… Hack

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.

Further reading: Joan Didion, back in 1996, reviews a half-dozen Woodward books from “The Deferential Spirit“. And from Woodward’s Wikipedia entry:

…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.”






125 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Anne Laurie says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: “But that was in another century, and besides, the wench division is dead.”

    That’s what I remember, too, but my weak google-fu couldn’t find a link that wasn’t gonna be dismissed as conspiracy-theorizing (at both ends of the spectrum). I just hope to outlive the SOB, because the postmortems are gonna be… interesting.

  3. 3
    James E. Powell says:

    This isn’t confusing unless reporters make it confusing.

    Well, they have to do their jobs, right?

  4. 4
    Carolinus says:

    Woodward is on Fox all the time these days: Fox News Sunday, O’Reily, Hannity, Greta, etc. They’ve frequently had him recount his inconsequential Jack Lew quote, but with this latest op ed he now can be booked to whine about how the President supposedly moved the goalposts on taxes. This op-ed was tailor made to fit into the current FOX and GOP talking points on sequestration. Like the total sellout he is, he basically laundered his old material and crafted it into prime grade-A druge-bait. He made himself the center of the story, like the hack he is, in order to put his hand on the political scales of the moment.

  5. 5
    Fred says:

    As to all the ‘Who’s idea was this sequestration in the first place?’ bruha, Ezra Klein’s comment here is the first I’ve seen that goes to the obvious truth. The GOP were convinced they would sweep the election (how could they not) so it was a moot point.
    Obama may have believed he would win but mainly he was up against a wall and had to do something. Remember the scene in “Spiderman” when the Goblin tells Spidey the problem with being a hero is that some maniac will come along and offer a sadistic choice? Spiderman saved both the girl and the kids. Let’s hope the Amazing Obamaman is as nimble and lucky.

  6. 6
    TriassicSands says:

    Damn, Woodward has become a boring pain in the ass.

    This is the kind of insider tedium that he specializes in — it makes him feel like he’s important, you know, the only guy around who knows what really happened. And like most of the stuff that the MIA obsess about, this (whose idea sequestration was) just doesn’t matter.

    The only way sequestration could take place was if the Congress voted it into being. Obama had no power to do that, so the responsibility rests with Congress. After all, Obama’s job is reasonably straightforward — sign or veto legislation. If the Congress is so dysfunctional it thinks it needs a gimmick like sequestration to help it get its job done, then why should Obama stand in their way?

    The problem here is that Congress claimed to need sequestration in order to force itself to come to an agreement on fiscal matters and they were wrong — they’re too screwed up to be able to respond to their own coercion.

    And if Republicans weren’t a bunch of insane ideologues who refuse to re-balance our tax system by increasing taxes on the wealthy none of this would have ever been an issue.

  7. 7
    hells littlest angel says:

    So that’s two pompous right-wing asses (Brooks being the other) slapped down by Ezra Klein in two days. Not bad for someone who is secretly David Broder secretly gay not yet 30 years old.

  8. 8
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I really can’t stand Woodward. Like Ralph Nader, he had a genuine moment of making an authentic and important contribution to this country decades ago, and like Ralph Nader, he’s turned into an annoying hack who’s been coasting on that reputation ever since. I’m old enough to remember when both of them leapt into public awareness — Nader in the mid-60s, Woodward (and of course Bernstein, who was arguably the more talented if less experienced) about eight years later. And they were fresh, compelling, even heroic voices then. But for years now they’ve just been sad and annoying and dangerous.

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Tangential to the current topic:

    NYT has a graphic about the sequester.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....f=politics

    It looks like I dodged the bullet this time, for a change.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    I’m encouraged. I’ve never seen this much pushback against Woodword. Maybe the people is learning.

    Ignore the noise. If voters believed the Village, Romney would be president right now. Republicans will be blamed if the sequester hits, and rightly so.

  11. 11
    gene108 says:

    I don’t get outrage by guys like Klein and Weigel.

    The job of the MSM is to dutifully report what Republicans want reported.

    It’s in the job description of a national D.C. political correspondent.

  12. 12
    WereBear says:

    The Republicans are whining because something stupid they’re doing is actually going to be hung around THEIR necks for a change.

    I don’t think it has sunk in yet: what a huge hit their credibility took, among the public, with all that “We’re gonna win!” nonsense.

  13. 13
    1bb3 says:

    One would think that after five years and two elections those idiots would have learned that their weak bullcrap does not work on him. And perhaps a very few of them have. But since weak bullcrap is all they have (it was cheap so they bought in bulk) I guess they figure they may as well use it.

    It’s worth it to see their faces when they realize, like HamRove on election night, they are thoroughly outclassed and overmatched by a bunch of Libs led by a Black Guy who didn’t get killed off in the beginning of the story like he’s supposed to.

  14. 14
    c u n d gulag says:

    As someone once said, ‘Washington is wired for Republicans.’

    And so, in DC, you’d better not be AC (Against Conservatism), or you’ll find it very hard to make a living.

    And Woodward’s just mad because Obama’s team didn’t treat him like he was “special.”
    All they did was give him some access – but they didn’t polish his knob, fluff-up his ball-hair, and lick his ass while kissing it, like W’s folks did.

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I think it was Josh Marshall who first said that. Josh is frustrating at times, but he hit it out of the ballpark with that one.

  16. 16
    Todd says:

    OT – Another reason why I hate fucking conservatives. They want small government unless they don’t.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2013/0.....abortions/

  17. 17
    TriassicSands says:

    @Baud:

    Everyone is frustrating at times. It’s the nature of human beings.

  18. 18
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Todd:

    Ugh. Sorry I contributed a click to that site. But yeah, hypocrites, the lot of ’em.

  19. 19
    jeffreyw says:

    Thread needs moar folks commenting early morning Sundays so I will not be bored. Step it up, dammit!

  20. 20
    Boudica says:

    I didn’t read Woodward. I did read Weigel and Klein. Neither addressed whether Woodward’s argument is that the expiration of tax cuts for those making over $1M was supposed to be the revenue portion of a sequester agreement. Is that Woodward’s argument?

  21. 21
    mai naem says:

    I took a class in college with a professor who worked with Woodward at the Post. Not sure what we were discussing at that time but I think it was Bill Casey’s deathbed whispers book. Anyway, she said Woodward’s reporting was flawless and all his stuff was fact checked. I wonder what she thinks of him now especially after the Clinton/Monica stuff and Dubbya.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @jeffreyw:

    We need a Sunday morning open thread. Also, jeffreyw food pr0n.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    JPL says:

    @jeffreyw: I saw that one yesterday. I just saw your picture of Katie on your what’s for dinner site.

  26. 26
    Maude says:

    @jeffreyw:
    Never mind yelling at us. You get those birdie pics uploaded.
    I heard at least two songbirds this morning. They have returned.

  27. 27
    jeffreyw says:

    @JPL: Oops! Sometimes I forget that I’ve linked to a photo already, sorry.

  28. 28
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @jeffreyw:

    Mmm… pancakes and eggs and there’s-not-enough-Lipitor-in-the-world-to-counteract-all-that-butter….

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    In retrospect, Woodward did tenacious work on Watergate out of careerism; because there has been nary a glimmer of a muckrake since.

  30. 30
    jeffreyw says:

    @Maude: Saw a few robins around, but they never really leave. Else there are the starlings and grackles. Does a titmouse count?

  31. 31
    jeffreyw says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I counteract it with moar pancakes, usually.

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    @jeffreyw: Katie does not know what she is missing.

  33. 33
    c u n d gulag says:

    @jurassicpork:
    Yup.

    And you can’t talk to Conservatives, because they’re FOXed-up in the head.

  34. 34
    Maude says:

    @jeffreyw:
    Oh, wow. I think Robins have come back, but I have to go and walk around to see. They came back during that warm spell on the east coast last year.
    I love birdie pics. Birds always take off before I can take their pictures.

  35. 35
    Maude says:

    OT
    I listen to traffic reports and hear about vehicle fires. Why are there vehicle fires? What causes them?

  36. 36
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @WereBear:

    True, too true.

  37. 37
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @jeffreyw:

    I have to say, I like your logic.

  38. 38
    max says:

    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

    Huh. Given that it was Mark Felt at least partly behind the takedown of Nixon (and your link up there has the Joint Chiefs trying to sabotage Nixon for being soft (!) the commies), I would think he would probably be working for COINTELPRO and its successors ops in the FBI.

    And there is the longstanding evidence that the CIA basically pwned a number of DC journos … but the choice of tense assumes they ever stopped.

    max
    [‘One could look at the last half of the 70’s as a brief interlude of sunshine, before the sun was blotted out again.’]

  39. 39
    JPL says:

    What picture is going to win the big award tonight? I only saw three of the nominees, Argo, Les Miz and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

  40. 40
    Baud says:

    @JPL:

    I just saw Argo. Really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. Haven’t seen the other nominees.

  41. 41
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Baud:

    Am really pleased that Jimmy Carter is loudly and publicly setting the historical record straight and giving the Canadians the credit they deserve.

  42. 42
    Alex says:

    @Boudica: Woodward’s final two paragraphs are below. His argument makes no sense for anyone who was alive in 2011, which is why everyone is pointing and laughing at him now.

    —-

    In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

    So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.

  43. 43
    JPL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: The movie was about the fictional movie Argo. It could have highlighted the Canadian involvement more but that wasn’t what the movie was about. Just my opinion.

    also,too.. I had no idea who Tony Mendez was until I saw the film. I’m glad Clinton declassified the information.

  44. 44
    Baud says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: @JPL:

    Agreed. It became clear with the info provided at the end of the movie that the Canadians’ role was downplayed. Still, whenever I read “Based on a true story” at the start of a film, I expect that much of the details have been Hollywoodized.

  45. 45
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JPL:
    The smart money was originally on Lincoln, but is currently on Argo. I myself really only care about best supporting actress: it would be a crying shame if it went to anyone but Anne Hathaway.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    gene108 says:

    @Alex:

    Shorter Bob: “Don’t Raise My Taxes!”

  48. 48
    danielx says:

    DC “journalists” as accomplices or extensions of the permanent war/national security establishment? I am shocked, shocked to hear such allegations. (kindly pull the other one for me, please.)

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts outrageous Republican gerrymandering, they didn’t get one.

    FTFY, Ezra.

  50. 50
    gene108 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    From the footage at the end of the movie, it seemed the Canadians got all the credit in 1979, with the Carter White House squashing any information about the U.S. and CIA involvement in extracting the six Americans.

    I was surprised and pleased that they got President Carter to give a recap of the events during the credits.

    I don’t get the beef that the Canadian role got down played. They got their due in 1979.

    As in any “based on a true story” movie, I’m sure liberties were taken with the facts, but I thought this movie was to acknowledge the fact the U.S. had a hand in the rescue of the six Americans, which was previously never publicly recognized.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Todd:

    OT – Another reason why I hate fucking conservatives. They want small government unless they don’t.

    They’re just trying to shrink government until it’s small enough to probe a vagina.

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    Shame on Carter for not outing a CIA agent for political purposes.

  53. 53
    karen marie says:

    @Alex:

    in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months

    You have to love the way Woodward presents raising the debt ceiling as Obama’s idea and responsibility, as if it were not a necessary bit of normal housekeeping and the responsibility of Congress.

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    BBC has an article about Tony Mendez.. link

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @karen marie:

    You have to love the way Woodward presents raising the debt ceiling as Obama’s idea and responsibility, as if it were not a necessary bit of normal housekeeping and the responsibility of Congress.

    Given how well the Republicans honor other agreements they enter into, you can see why they’d think that actually paying for the stuff they’ve put in the budget is a huge imposition. It’s totally unfair to expect Republicans to do even 1/10 of what they say they’ll do.

  56. 56
    Baud says:

    @karen marie:

    Exactly. “In exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months America wouldn’t become a deadbeat nation.

  57. 57
    RaflW says:

    @TriassicSands:

    Damn, Woodward has become a boring pain in the ass.

    This happens to a lot of old crankypants like him. And I’m sure he’s noticing that youngsters like Ezra Klein and Chris Hayes are kicking the oldsters butts.

    Of course someone pushing 70 can still be a good writer and pundit. But its clearly very rare, and the huge built-in bias is for an entitled boomer jerk like Woodward to continually play footsie with the Fox crowd. That network skews right to his own personal demographic of rich old white asshole.

  58. 58
    rikyrah says:

    this White House must not be on their knees to Woodward, which is why he’s putting out such lies about them.

  59. 59
    Chris Andersen says:

    Woodward is an access whore.

    Give him access and he will write something positive about you.

    Deny him access and he will write something negative about you.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    @Fred:

    Ezra Klein’s comment here is the first I’ve seen that goes to the obvious truth. The GOP were convinced they would sweep the election (how could they not) so it was a moot point

    .

    So absolutely true.

    They JUST KNEW they would have a President Romney and a Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

    when neither one of those happened…
    they never had a PLAN B.

  61. 61
    RaflW says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    As someone once said, ‘Washington is wired for Republicans.’

    This has certainly been true, and is – for the most part – true today. But that is starting to shift. Washington has been wired for Republicans for generational reasons, and the old guard is starting to loose out, loose relevance, and get more vigorously questioned by the generation that is coming up.

    As Baud says above, I’m encouraged. I’ve never seen this much pushback against Woodword. Maybe the people is learning.

    Maybe the 20- and 30-somethings who are voting sharply Democratic are also starting to enter their active worklife as bloggers, journalists and writers, too. Can’t come soon enough!

  62. 62
    Chris says:

    @Todd:

    Anyone who thinks they really want small government, or is looking for any consistency in their model of politics, is chasing wild geese. They want a government that responds to them and only them (which is what “taking our country back”) really means. Broadly speaking that translates to not liking the welfare state (which disproportionately helps “these people”) and fetishizing the security state and the morality-police state, which disproportionately beats up on “these people.” But it’s not like they won’t still scream like stuck pigs if you try and mess with THEIR Medicare, or if the FBI comes knocking on THEIR walled compounds. Or, I suspect, if you ever started trying to legislate straight male morality (e.g. going after divorce – or rape – with the same energy that’s put into abortion and gay rights).

  63. 63
    Roger Moore says:

    @rikyrah:

    they never had a PLAN B.

    Sure they had a plan B. It was to obstruct everything and threaten to blow up the government if Obama didn’t concede and give them everything they would have given themselves had they won. IOW, same shit, different term.

  64. 64
    Cacti says:

    @rikyrah:

    They JUST KNEW they would have a President Romney and a Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

    And when guys like Nate Silver were correctly reporting that the numbers were lining up for a big Romney loss…

    They said ignore him because he’s a homo.

  65. 65
    xian says:

    @Alex: Wrong. The substitute for the sequester was supposed to be a negotiated grand bargain that by definition would not be signed by Obama unless it was balanced. There is nothing about the Republicans refusing to include taxes in the sequester that defines what the substitute for the sequester must be.

  66. 66
    Hoodie says:

    Woodward would be lauding their decisiveness and audacity if one of his GOP daddies was moving the goalposts. It’s more than clear that these guys have a visceral dislike for Obama because he’s not one of them and, more importantly, has no fucking need for them.

  67. 67
    Suffern ACE says:

    @rikyrah: wait. I thought Woodward explained in his book that it was Obama who didn’t have a plan B, because Obama lacked business experience. Or something like that. Of course the sequester was something like plan L or N, but why bother enumerating.

  68. 68
    Cacti says:

    Woodward’s greatest punishment is, his signature accomplishment is far enough in the past that a good portion of the population now has no idea who he is.

  69. 69
    LosGatosCA says:

    @WereBear:

    Woodward didn’t do any journalism on Watergate. A disgruntled highly placed Nixon employee used him as a stenographer to trash his boss. That the trashing did some good is purely a coincidence.

    Woodward’s life lesson from that experience was ‘stenography pays.’

    He’s an entrepreneur looking to get paid. People forget that’s his motivation and he’s far from the only one. I distinctly remember Ben Bradlee’s response to a question on the implications of Deep Throat’s public outing. After a second to reflect on the historical importance and the ethical implications of the Watergate disclosures by Mark Felt, old Ben replied wisely: “Woodward is going to make a lot of money.”

    So much for the profundity of journanimalism.

  70. 70
    RobertDSC-iMac G5 says:

    It’s more than clear that these guys have a visceral dislike for Obama because he’s not one of them black.

    Fixeth.

  71. 71
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    I would think that “turncoat” is too strong a phrase, but getting to sit in at the White House during the Iraq War festivities must have been pretty heady stuff. He really was an apologist for that crew, and seems to have been moving in their circles ever since. I never pay any attention to anything he says anymore. And that’s a shame because I’m certain that he’s right about some things. This ain’t one of them and I would guess he knows that.

  72. 72
    dmsilev says:

    @RobertDSC-iMac G5: No, they didn’t like Clinton either, and with a comparable level of irrationality as well.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @dmsilev:

    They hate any Democratic president, whether he’s black of white. And it’s always racial, whether he’s black or white. Because Democrats are the party of “these people,” whether the public face they put on is black or white. IMO.

  74. 74
    RaflW says:

    @Hoodie:

    It’s more than clear that these guys have a visceral dislike for Obama because he’s not one of them and, more importantly, has no fucking need for them.

    Up with Chris Hayes had a good segment this morning about the White House press corps butthurt over a lack of “access” to Obama.

    As someone upthread said, Woodward will be a spurned, tell-all ex-lover if you don’t suckle his toes in lots of off-the-record access. Which makes him a sleazy piece of work, no doubt.

  75. 75
    gene108 says:

    @dmsilev:

    Yeah, but Clinton at least had the descency to quit murdering his enemies, soon after he took office.

    Obama’s put out hits on 3 2nd Amendment advocates and the U.S. ambassador in Libya and 3 other embassy staffers were just collateral damage.

    When will Democratic Presidents embrace democracy? When will they quit using Third World dictator tactics to silence enemies? Can America survive 3 more years of the thug-life in the White House?

    We need answers and the limp wristed Congressional Republicans don’t have the balls to get to the truth (Though they are rightfully scared for their lives).

  76. 76
    Hill Dweller says:

    Twitter war! Ron Fournier vs Ezra Klein/Steve Benen. Fournier is already on the ropes.

  77. 77
    handsmile says:

    We may think the emperor has no clothes, but don’t for a second think that Bob Woodward does not still reign as Village Monarch.

    As of Saturday afternoon (when I first posted here on Woodward’s piece), it had over 5,000 comments at the Kaplan TPD website. A quick peek into that asylum revealed a consensus that Woodward’s “revelation” doomed Obama and the Democrats on sequestration. The same is true among the now almost 2,000 comments to Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog piece linked to above (okay yes, Kaplan comments: same shit, different day.)

    Early reports from this morning’s bobble-head parades indicate that Woodward’s column dominated roundtable discussions of the sequester. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC gasworks, there was nary a “centrist” to be found, much less a representative from the left-of-center. No Krugman, Stiglitz, Bernstein, not even Ezra Klein.

    Pushback against Woodward? Maybe on some of the blogs we frequent, but I’ll believe the peasants are uprising when they begin to appear more frequently outside of the blogosphere. King Bob continues to call the tune in the “whorehouse with 5000 piano players” (Pierce) that is the Village media. Watch and read with dismay how prominently he and his column will be in the coming week amidst sequestration hysteria and misinformation.

    Much like the alleged “death throes” of the Confederate Party, reports on the death of Woodward the First are greatly exaggerated.

  78. 78
    gene108 says:

    @Chris:

    With Clinton it wasn’t racial. It was good old fashioned hippie punching.

    To the conservatives, Clinton was the embodiment of free love, loose morals and drug use that per the 1970’s and 1980’s conservative thought led to the ruination of America, along with LBJ’s Great Society welfare programs destroying the Negro family and plunging Negroes into a cycle of poverty and violence.

    If Clinton succeeded he could’ve vindicated LBJ and the hippies, while appealing to Southerners, who were leaving the Democratic Party.

    That would’ve meant the end for the conservative movement.

    They couldn’t have that, so they attacked Clinton like no other President in modern history.

    Despite Reagan’s popularity, Bush, Sr. still had to run on a Thousand Points of Light, in 1988, because Americans were still able to remember the good FDR did and like their Medicare.

    Even after a decade of bashing Clinton, and Clinton trying to move right on some issues, Bush, Jr. had to dream up “compassionate conservatism”, because voters still expected government to do some positive things for them and not just funnel money to the rich.

    There’s really an epic rift between how the media is conveying conventional wisdom and what the will of the people is and for whatever reason they don’t realize it.

    In a rational world, when 71% of Americans support raising the minimum wage, along with the fact whenever raising the minimum wage has been on a state ballot initiative it easily passes, the media would be hounding the Republicans for thwarting the will of the voters, rather than treating Republicans as the Very Serious People, who must protect us from ourselves.

  79. 79
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @RaflW: Up with Chris Hayes had a good segment this morning about the White House press corps butthurt over a lack of “access” to Obama.
    Hayes was Alex Wagner’s show on Friday, making the point that Ed Henry (Fox) had trivialized an important and valid point by making it about a celebrity golf match. Sam Stein tried to argue that it was about a lot more than golf, when the ex-Politco dope who now types for Buzzfeed chimed in with “I paid for that golf game! I paid for the balls!” You couldn’t have written a better parody of the Village and its Junior League.

    @Hill Dweller: I hope someone’s rudely reminding him of his “Keep up the Lord’s fight!” exchange with Rove. Benen and Klein strike me as too well mannered.

  80. 80
    patroclus says:

    The Republicans were insisting on immediate cuts in 2011, but at the very least wanted automatic cuts. In response to that, Obama’s people (Lew) suggested sequestration (a re-re-run of Gramm-Rudman). Only in a Woodwardian world does that mean that Obama proposed “sequestration.” If he hadn’t have given in to the Republicans’ extortion, he would never have proposed “sequestration.” Leaving out the Republicans’ original posturing is terrible journalism – Woodward is a Republican-talking-points repeating slimy sleazy hack.

  81. 81
    patroclus says:

    @LosGatosCA: Well, Mark Felt had been with the FBI long before Nixon, so I wouldn’t classify him as a Nixon employee, but otherwise, you’re completely right. Felt was very disappointed at being passed over for the FBI succession after Hoover and I think he was genuinely shocked by the WH organizing burglaries and other dirty tricks in violation of law – as well as, obviously, covering it all up by threatening the FBI. Woodward was his stenographer; hence his career.

    At the time, because we didn’t know who Felt was, Woodward seemed heroic. Now, not so much.

  82. 82
    Gex says:

    @gene108: But why do they hate hippies? It was the civil rights era. The entire modern political alignment has everything to do with which party decided to pick up the mantle of the Lost Cause. It’s those damn hippies that say minorities, women, and gays are equal to straight white men. That’s what the hatred is about. Hippies are white people who are traitors to the cause.

  83. 83
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Fournier took a shot a Klein on twitter. Klein responded by linking to an article about Fournier’s love letters to Rove. Benen piled on by pointing out Fournier nearly joined McCain’s campaign as a paid staffer in ’07, and continued writing flattering stories throughout the ’08 campaign.

  84. 84
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Hill Dweller: press people are starting to name names. This is as close to civil war in the press as we’ll ever see.

  85. 85
    patroclus says:

    @handsmile: I agree – Woodward’s narrative has dominated the Sunday shows and has now become the Republicans’ mantra. The Village is wired for Republicans and it still is.

    But the good news is that the underlying fundamentals are also the same – the Republicans are in favor of austerity with a meat-cleaver approach and the Dems are resisting that. Regardless of Woodward, that’ll play better for the Dems politically. The bad news is that we’re likely to get a dose of austerity and that’s bad policy (even though I, in general, support defense cuts). The even worse news is that we’re getting a dose of austerity (tax increases/spending cuts) just when we don’t need it – coming out of a steep credit-crunch recession.

  86. 86
    Hill Dweller says:

    @patroclus: Nobody watches the Sunday shows any longer. Woodward still has sway with the beltway old guard, but he is getting pummeled by new media.

    At the end of the day, we are here because Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage, and wanted trillions in immediate cuts in hopes of tanking the economy.

    The WH is in the better position, even after Woodward’s hackish article.

  87. 87
    stratplayer says:

    The trouble with Woodward is that his is, and always has been, a plodding mediocrity. He is undoubtedly hardworking and doggedly determined to see his projects through, but I have never discerned a trace of intellectual spark or original insight in him. He’s just not that bright.

  88. 88
    Chris says:

    @patroclus:

    Speaking of Watergate, can I just take the opportunity to thank whoever it was a couple weeks back who recommended “The Company” as a spy novel? More politics than spy, but still, interesting take on the Bay of Pigs and Watergate from Jesse Helms’ POV.

  89. 89
    Argo says:

    @hells littlest angel: I doubt Annie Lowery is a beard.

  90. 90
    Amir Khalid says:

    I once heard, from an American journalist who had worked at the Washington Post, a story about Bob Woodward and Janet Cook. (You might remember her. She was the Pulitzer-winning reporter some 30 years ago who was fired, and had her prize revoked, when her winning story turned out to be fiction). I have no way to know how true this is, but apparently Woodward and Cook were an office item while he was her editorial supervisor.

    My American friend suggested that Woodward’s special interest in Cook kept him from doing his job and putting her story through the proper scrutiny ahead of publication.

    I had trouble believing the story at the time, for the obvious reasons. But the more I hear about Woodward these days, the more believable the story seems to me now.

  91. 91
    handsmile says:

    @patroclus:

    Little would please me more than to be wrong here, but I’m not at all confident that the politics of sequestration will long remain in favor of Obama and the Democrats after March 1. (And yup, I’ve fully bought into the conventional wisdom that the meat-cleaver will begin to swing next weekend, though I do expect a legislative tourniquet soon thereafter.)

    With Republicans’ utter domination of Village media broadcasts and newsprints (“wired” isn’t a remotely adequate description; the Village is a Confederate stronghold), the simple-minded bromides of “Obama moved the goalposts”/Woodward and “Taxes have already been raised”/any Republican will become the phrases parroted by the vast majority of Americans for whom “sequestration” is an odd and abstract word.

    Against that Wurlitzer and the very real negative consequences imposed by austerity, I deeply hope that President Obama and congressional Democrats will remain adamant and effective in assigning responsibility and refuse to accede to shrieks for any “grand bargain.”

  92. 92
    trollhattan says:

    @RaflW:

    It would seem his next requisite career step will be buying a Corvette and mowing down hapless D.C. pedestrians. (If I’ve been reading the rulebook correctly.)

  93. 93
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @stratplayer: The trouble with Woodward is that his is, and always has been, a plodding mediocrity

    What I know about his actual role in Watergate comes from having watched the movie about twenty years ago, but in my adult lifetime, Woodward has been more a source farmer than a reporter. I read one of his books in the Clinton years, and I wasn’t reading with the jaundiced attitude to make me think about who his sources were, but a couple of long WaPo pieces from the Bush years seemed to barely be hiding the fact that Woodward was taking dictation from Colin Powell.

    @Amir Khalid: Dayum. George Will and Lally Weymouth, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, Richard Cohen and whoever, I think Juan Williams’ sexual harassment charges were during his time at the Post. Booby Woodward and Janet Cooke… It’s like the Village branch of Sterling Cooper over there.

  94. 94
    trollhattan says:

    @Argo:

    Special Timmeh was floating this particular turd in the BJ punchbowl a day or two ago, which is an ironclad auto-refutation if ever there were one.

  95. 95
    Hill Dweller says:

    @handsmile: It this was an isolated event, I’d probably agree. But the sequestration is coming on the heels of a series of Republican created crises.

    I think the WH is in a strong polling position because, generally speaking, the country realizes Republicans are against anything the President proposes.

  96. 96
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @handsmile: I deeply hope that President Obama and congressional Democrats

    Two very different animals. I think one of the few demographics where the Sabbath Gasbag/Washington Post narratives still have influence is the Senate Dem Caucus. I think it was Young Ezra who told the story about being on an elevator with two moderate Dem Senators when one turned to the other and said, in a tone of Concern, “Did you read Friedman today?” The column in question was one of the Moustache’s 347 variants on “President Obama must reach out to Republicans from the Center…” wherein Himself called for Obama to offer a compromise slightly but notably to the left of what Obama was offering Republicans. I can’t imagine Dianne Feinstien turning to Mark Warner and saying “Did you read Krugman today?”

  97. 97
    handsmile says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    If the “Sunday shows” were as irrelevant as you claim, then their sponsors and advertisers would be very different. The national defense/security industries and petrochemical corporations are well aware of whose eyeballs are watching.

    We may find “new media’ representatives to be more appealing and more reliable, but the “beltway old guard” is and will remain the dominant reporting/analysis bloc that Democratic voters and activists must contend with electorally for the next several voting cycles.

  98. 98
    Yutsano says:

    @trollhattan: Inorite? It’s almost like a straight man can’t be just a little bit feminine because he just HAS to be gay. It’s pretty damn insulting to suggest that. But I’d expect no less from Special Timmeh.

  99. 99
    Elizabelle says:

    Bob Woodward has been a hack for … hours now.

    Did anyone catch last night’s “The Caine Mutiny” on TCM? 1954 film of Herman Wouk novel; starred Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg (had heard that name).

    It was like Dilbert meets a WWII destroyer. With a resolution in penultimate scene that probably pleased the Navy but falls flat after living through the 1960s. (Story was about questioning authority, even when the authority is questionable.)

    Anybody see it?

    TCM had “On the Waterfront” at 8, and Bogart’s last movie, “The Harder They Fall” after — another terrific flick.

  100. 100
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Elizabelle: I think it was Charlie Pierce who said that John McCain talks about earmarks like Captain Queeg talks about strawberries. Been a while, but I don’t think that’s a spoiler.

  101. 101
    MikeJ says:

    @Elizabelle:

    and Bogart’s last movie, “The Harder They Fall” after — another terrific flick.

    That’s the movie that Jean-Paul Belmondo is imitating in À bout de souffle.

  102. 102
    handsmile says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    While we evidently do disagree on the relevance of the “Sabbath Gasbags” (h/t Jim FL!), I absolutely hope that you are proved to be an oracle that current polling on President Obama’s approval and GOP disapproval will sustain him and us during the pain and ugliness that sequestration is sure to engender.

  103. 103
    Hill Dweller says:

    @handsmile: The Sunday Shows’ viewing audience is tiny, relatively speaking, and skews old.

    The shows themselves cater to white, elderly conservatives. That bloc voted largely against Obama, and are already predisposed to dislike him. They’re essentially preaching to the choir.

    Obama has publicly, forcefully and repeatedly come out against the sequester. The beltway is going to have a very hard time convincing the rest of the American people that he secretly schemed to make it happen or that he actually wants it to happen. Obama can also point to all the hostage taking in pursuit of spending cuts Republicans have engaged in during the last 4+ years.

    Hell, I think Obama relishes the opportunity to demonstrate to the American people the real life effects of austerity. Let them experience the consequences of Republican policy.

  104. 104
    muddy says:

    OT This is the best thing I’ve seen all day, makes a nice palate cleanser: http://jezebel.com/5986421/wat.....late-night

  105. 105
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Cacti:

    They said ignore him because he’s a homo.

    Link?

  106. 106
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    that’s very funny

  107. 107
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @trollhattan:

    Special Timmeh was floating this particular turd in the BJ punchbowl a day or two ago

    Homophobe. Please explain why you think being gay is a “turd in the punchbowl.”

    Fuck you.

  108. 108
    Anya says:

    Wasn’t there some sort of a kerfuffle over Himmelman’s book? I seem to remember reading something about Woodward complain about his legacy put into question if Bradlee handed his papers or something to that nature. Any remember that?

  109. 109

    Ben Bradlee worked for Radio Free Europe out of the CIA’s Paris office in the early 50s, part of the anti-Rosenberg propaganda program. Woodward was ONI. In fact, if you look at all the witnesses who suddenly spilled their guts against Nixon, they were almost always CIA or one of its tributaries. It was a turf war. Recall how he was eventually replaced with Gerald Ford, “the CIA’s best friend in Congress”.

  110. 110
    Cacti says:

    @gene108:

    With Clinton it wasn’t racial. It was good old fashioned hippie punching.

    There was a classist element too.

    You could tell that Bush 41 could barely keep himself from calling Clinton white trash.

  111. 111
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    @Chris: Well said, my friend, well said.

  112. 112
    Cacti says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Link?

    Thin and effeminate pollsters just can’t be trusted.

  113. 113
    Matt says:

    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.

    No, Ezra, the point was to talk the GOP into NOT BLOWING UP THE FUCKING ECONOMY.

    This was not legislation-as-usual, it was a HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION. When the guy with twenty bank tellers wrapped in C4 and ball-bearings gets a helicopter and a clear path to the airport, it ain’t because the cops *wanted* that to happen.

    Pretending that it’s something that “both sides” wanted equally is just the same ol’ Villager bullshit – knock it off.

  114. 114
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Cacti:

    Well played.

  115. 115
    Anya says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Recall how he was eventually replaced with Gerald Ford, “the CIA’s best friend in Congress”.

    Who else was he going to be replaced with, Ford was the VP after all. Or are you saying Nixon was framed?

  116. 116
    Jay S says:

    John Harwood “logic”:

    One shift is the shrinking magnitude of the Medicare spending problem — a consequence, at least for now, of the recent slowdown in health care costs. That diminishes the willingness of Congressional Democrats, and perhaps the administration too, to accept the sort of Medicare curbs that Mr. Obama has indicated that he favors.

    Another is a moderation in the public stance of Republican leaders. In recent weeks, they have advocated smaller changes to Medicare than the “premium support” or voucher plan that Mitt Romney advocated and that Mr. Obama denounced in the 2012 presidential campaign.

    It’s gonna be tough to get an agreement to starve granny if it doesn’t cost as much to keep her healthy. Bad news for Obama!

  117. 117

    @Anya: Anya, Gerald Ford was never elected Vice President. He was an appointed Vice President.

  118. 118
  119. 119
    FlipYrWhig says:

    The whole thing makes little to no sense to me, though, because the Republican “brand” is, thought we all know well that it’s bullshit, “cut spending now, we can’t afford it.” The sequester is… Spending cuts. If people don’t like its effects, that’s on Republicans, because it’s ideologically what they stand for. Regardless of who proposed what, which is a conversation that’s only going to make any sense to political obsessives, a spending cut that hurts is going to be perceived as the Republicans’ doing.

  120. 120
    Stillwater says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Of course. You’re just pointing out the GOP are playing politics with policy. That’s a given at this point. The really impressive thing about it is the revisionism.

    I guess conservatives think they can just re-make facts to fit their policy-goals as they go along. And unfortunately they’re correct in thinking that.

  121. 121
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Stillwater: True, but it’s a revisionism that I think isn’t going to “take” except in Beltway media and Fox News circles. Kind of like how Obama has repeatedly cut taxes (until the payroll tax cut expired), but people when polled say their taxes have gone up or stayed the same. It just doesn’t compute that the Democratic president wouldn’t have raised taxes–it’s what Democrats do. Similarly, cutting spending is what Republicans do, and special pleading about how this time it was the wrong kind of spending, or something, is just too complicated.

  122. 122
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Anya:

    Who else was he going to be replaced with, Ford was the VP after all. Or are you saying Nixon was framed?

    Nixon’s elected VP, Spiro Agnew, left his job in return for not getting indicted for taking big bags of money from “supporters” with criminal antecedents. Since Nixon was obviously going to either quit or be impeached by that point, there was Much Discussion among the Very Serious People about Agnew’s replacement. Rockefeller, archetype of the Romney-style “You People, the 47%” campaign, really really really blatantly tried to buy the slot. Half the Republicans in Congress were trying to sell their “credentials” to take over.

    Gerry Ford was referred to as an unexpected choice — Mike Royko said that he was “best known for being severely average”, and a number of papers revived LBJ’s comment that “Gerry spent too much time playing football without a helmet”. Although he probably wasn’t as dumb as he frequently acted, Ford was a reliable Republican, a guy who’d spent thirty years getting re-elected by the mid-Michigan fundamentalists (Dutch Reform Calvinists) to vote the Conservative ticket and not make waves. He was also, like Woodward, ex-Navy intelligence (rumor was he got into ONI because he was a famous college football player).

    Every contemporary commentor, left right & centrist, saw Ford’s appointment as an indication that the Republicans intended to do exactly what they’d been doing, only more discretely than that drunken nutball Tricky Dick. The Moderate Centrists huzzahed that the ship of state had dodged a cannonball, and now the cruise would continue serenely. The DFHs were outraged, but who ever paid attention to what those people thought?

    P.S. Spoiler: Rockefeller ended up buying the VP slot under Ford — literally buying, with a humongous contribution to the Repub defense fund for you-know-who.

  123. 123
    AxelFoley says:

    @1bb3:

    One would think that after five years and two elections those idiots would have learned that their weak bullcrap does not work on him. And perhaps a very few of them have. But since weak bullcrap is all they have (it was cheap so they bought in bulk) I guess they figure they may as well use it.

    It’s worth it to see their faces when they realize, like HamRove on election night, they are thoroughly outclassed and overmatched by a bunch of Libs led by a Black Guy who didn’t get killed off in the beginning of the story like he’s supposed to.

    This.

  124. 124
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @RaflW:

    the huge built-in bias is for an entitled boomer jerk like Woodward

    Woodward isn’t a boomer, born in 1943, he’s part of the Silent(Happy Days) generation.

  125. 125

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