Woodward hysteria

Since Bob Woodward has managed to make himself the center of attention in Washington this week (yet again), I might as well say it — just in case anyone wondered: No, he’s no relation of mine.

Glenn Greenwald writes: Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that it would deploy “only” one aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, rather than the customary two. This move, said the Pentagon, was in preparation for the so-called “sequestration”, scheduled to take effect this week, that mandates spending cuts for all agencies, including the Pentagon. This aircraft carrier announcement was all part of the White House’s campaign to scare the public into believing that sequestration, which Democrats blame on Republicans, will result in serious harm to national security. Shortly before this cut was announced, then-defense Secretary Leon Panetta said:

“With another trigger for sequestration approaching on March 1st, the Department of Defense is facing the most serious readiness crisis in over a decade . . . . Make no mistake, if these cuts happen there will be a serious disruption in defense programs and a sharp decline in military readiness.”

That the Obama administration might actually honor the budget cuts mandated by a law enacted by Congress and signed by Obama infuriates Bob Woodward, Washington’s most celebrated journalist. He appeared this week on the “Morning Joe” program to excoriate Obama for withholding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf, saying:

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’ Or George W Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to 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.”

As Brian Beutler points out: “the obscure type of budget document Woodward’s referring to is called a duly enacted law — passed by Congress, signed by the President — and the only ways around it are for Congress to change it. . . . or for Obama to break it.” But that’s exactly what Woodward is demanding: that Obama trumpet his status as Commander-in-Chief in order to simply ignore – i.e. break – the law, just like those wonderful men before him would have done. Woodward derides the law as some petty, trivial annoyance (“this piece of paper”) and thus mocks Obama’s weakness for the crime of suggesting that the law is something he actually has to obey.

How ironic that this comes from the reporter endlessly heralded for having brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency on the ground that Nixon believed himself above the law. Nixon’s hallmark proclamation – “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal” – is also apparently Bob Woodward’s. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Woodward hysteria

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Roll on endless sequestration, if it might create a world where nuclear armed carriers are not anchored outside anyone’s capital city, like ominous angels of death.
    Perhaps I’m dating myself, but this was often the case in the 60s when I worked around North Africa and the Mediterranean. Of course they had to anchor then because they were not nuclear powered Energizer Bunnies. Today the modus operandi is to send death unseen from over the horizon. Even the Comintern and the WWII axis powers could not equal this global reach— and the world was better for it.

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