Bob Woodward's New Book
So Bob Woodward has a new book, State of Denial, coming out with lots of juicy details about how disfunctional the Bush White House is and more about the people in the administration who can't stand talking to each other.
The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.
During this administration Woodward's written a total of three books from the insiders point of view that have been very derogatory of the people in Bush's administration. However, he always gets invited back to dish up the next round of dirt. And why is that? Because he also is very good at fluffing up Bush's image because Bush doesn't care if everyone else looks bad as long as it shows him as a confident, decisive and bold leader.
ON April 17, two days before the official publication of Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post appeared on the Today show to discuss the book's political impact. White House officials "have good reason to be worried," said Milbank. "I think we finally found the weapon of mass destruction here." He continued: "The administration will have a much tougher time knocking down Bob Woodward than they have had in dealing with some of their other critics."
Yet the Bush team hasn't tried to knock down Woodward--it's been too busy pumping him up. On the president's reelection website, there's a "suggested reading list." Plan of Attack sits at the top. There's even a link to Amazon.com, for purchasing convenience. The GOP has been called "the stupid party" before, but encouraging people to buy a book like the one Milbank described would be about as smart as screening Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 at a Bush-Cheney fundraiser.
To be sure, Plan of Attack is no reverential tribute to Bush's presidential leadership. John Kerry's campaign has tried to exploit several of its details. By embracing the book, GOP strategists perhaps intended to smother some of its criticisms. But Plan of Attack is certainly not the full-frontal offensive of Milbank's telling. "I don't know whether [Bush has] read it," said Woodward in a CNN interview. Somebody who has talked to him said he's looked at the book, and he's happy with it."
"It's a slam dunk," he told the president, remembering that Rice had told him that Bush preferred sports metaphors. "The underlying message of "Bush at War" is that your administration is made up of decent, hard-working folks who -- no matter what their differences in personality, ideology or strategy -- in the end do what is best for the country and the suffering people of the world."
Bush looked relieved, but there was another question hanging in the air. Jensen knew the president wouldn't ask it, but he knew it was his job to answer it.
"I know it doesn't matter to you, Mr. President, but with your permission I would like to assess the effect of the book on your approval ratings," Jensen said.
Bush winced ever so slightly. He was, of course, curious, and before 9/11 it might have been one of his central questions. But 9/11 had changed the president, changed the man. He knew political considerations mattered if he were to succeed in pushing through his domestic agenda. But he also knew that he couldn't think politically the way he once had. He was the president in a new age, and he couldn't look back.
"Go ahead," Bush said. "But make it quick. We have a war against terrorism to win."
Jensen wasted no words. "You come out looking like a leader. A gut player who can think on his feet. A man not afraid to push his subordinates but also willing to trust their judgment. A man who, when the pressure is on, isn't afraid to take chances, but who knows when to be cautious when lives are at stake. A man who grew into the job but never lost his Texas instincts."
So my questions are, how does Bush get treated in this round? What will be Bush's response to this latest book? And who was the dirty little traitor in the White House dishing out this stuff this time? (I suspect Andy Card was dishing up a storm to get back at Rummy who it seems nobody likes and Cheney.)
Laura Rozen has some selected quotes from the NYTimes piece today and also what was said in the WaPo where they plan to publish excerpts starting next week. Seems that Mrs. Bush can't get her husband to back away from mistakes like Rumsfeld either.