This weekend saw the release of “State of Denial,” Bob Woodward’s latest book in an on-going portrait of the Bush Administration and the planning of the Iraq war. Accompanied by front-page coverage at the New York Times, an exclusive interview on 60-minutes, and a two-day serialization in the Washington Post, Woodward has gained attention for his stern rebuke of the President and his top advisers. On Saturday, the White House got into the mix, issuing a press release that disputed Woodward’s claims of infighting, indecisiveness, and ignorance.
Afterwards, bloggers set out to enlarge the spin-zone with a flurry of discussion and debate.
“This is what happens when a court turns on its king: the court stenographer dutifully turns right along with them and then tells the whole world about it,”writes Kevin Drum at Political Animal. “That’s why I’ve never held Bob Woodward’s role against him. We need to have at least one court stenographer around so the rest of us know what the court is thinking, and Woodward is as good a choice as anyone.”
After watching Woodward’s appearance on 60 minutes, one observer bemoaned the influence of a longstanding left-wing adversary on the current administration.
Notes Sharon Cobb, “One of the most frightening revelations from the interview last night was Henry Kissinger is a close advisor to Bush and Cheney and that Kissinger is trying to sell the Iraq war the way he tried to sell the Vietnam war. Kissinger has always believed that America left Vietnam too soon, and that we could have somehow won there if we had stayed. Fast forward 35 years and now we know why Bush keeps saying ‘We’re going to stay the course,’ and ‘We’re not going to cut and run.’ Apparently Dr. Henry Kissinger is Bush and Cheney’s muse.”
While some liberal bloggers saw Woodward’s criticisms as both un-revelatory and overdue, one centrist pundit saw considerable value in their conclusions.
“The White House and GOP chose to start hammering home the themes of national security, how the country can’t afford (or by implication physically survive) a Democratic Congressional victory, and coupled all this with an attempt to link up Iraq to the war on terror,” observes the Moderate Voice. “This was their choice to put it on the table. Woodward’s book now calls into question the administration’s competency, professionalism (professional policy makers coolly look at all options and try to pick the most effective, which may not be the one they necessarily want), and outright honesty.”
Others, however, saw the book as raising more questions about its author than its subject.
“In the end, I suspect that what we will learn from the State of Denial is a great deal about Bob Woodward,”argues Red State. “But maybe not so much about the Bush administration over the last few years. One thing that has become painfully apparent in academia over the past two decades is the perils of forcing the facts to fit your theory—a methodology that has imperiled the social sciences as any number of historical objects, events and texts have been appropriated to fit modern criteria.”
For another blogger, there remains no doubt about whom the book’s caustic title best describes.
“…Don’t get me wrong,” writes Back Talk. “Woodward has every right to gaze into his crystal ball and predict the worst in the year to come. And I don’t really blame him for joining the likes Richard Clarke and Joseph Wilson in trying to make a buck off of Bush Derangement Syndrome. But I think it’s fair to say that on the question of who is being misleading, it is Bob Woodward, not George Bush.”