Dan Bartlett, Bush's White House counselor, was making the rounds today on the Sunday bobblehead shows in an effort to minimize the effects of Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial. The book is supposedly (I have not read it myself) a scathing attack on just how messed up on every level Bush's folly in Iraq is. Apparently, it is so tough on the Bushies that Bartlett not only had to go make the morning rounds in an effort to refute the book, but they've also taken the time to issue a press release (from the White House itself) called "Five Key Myths in Bob Woodward's Book". At this point, almost six years into his presidency/reign, there have been many many books written about what a debacle this nation finds itself in because of Bush's leadership, but this is the first book, at least to my knowledge, that actually required the administration to openly address what they feel are myths about the book. Either Woodward is a really bad journalist who got a lot of things wrong (which I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say is false) or he nailed them so well that they were left with no choice but to try and spin this and minimize the book as much as possible.
Over the last few years, Woodward has been no friend to the left of the political spectrum. His two prior books that explored "Bush at War" were highly complementary of how Bush was prosecuting the "War on Terrah". His last book, Plan of Attack, got rave reviews from no less a personage than Condi Rice and the aforementioned Bartlett. Think Progress has some quotes:
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: He is terrific. He’s a great journalist, and I look forward to reading it. He’s talking about a pretty complex set of discussions about military issues and diplomatic issues, and I’m sure it will be — be fantastic. [CNN, 4/25/04]
DAN BARTLETT: I think Bob Woodward has done a pretty — particularly good job of describing how complicated of a process it is for a commander in chief to do two real important but sometimes conflicting responsibilities. [CNN, 4/25/04]
BARTLETT: We’re urging people to buy the book. What this book does is show a president who was asking the right questions and showing prudence as well as resolve during very difficult times. This book undermines a lot of the critics’ charges. [Washington Post, 4/21/04]
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But what is most striking is that, here at the White House, they say read the book. They believe it shows — it paints the picture of a president who asks the right questions, the tough questions, before going to war and then decided that he was right in launching that war. [CNN, 4/19/04]
So, in the span of two years, Woodward went from being a "great journalist" to a hack with an agenda. Doesn't quite jibe, does it? Which leads me to the whole point of this exercise - did Bob Woodward bait-and-switch the administration? Did he write two "pro-Bush" books in order to really gain the trust and access that comes with sucking up to the Bushies? Did he then use that gained access and trust in order to write what would be the definitive book on all that is wrong with the Bush White House? I also noticed that it's awful serendipitous that the book has been released less than a month before the midterm elections. I don't have answers to the above questions since, but it sure does make one wonder. Regardless, I think that one thing is certain - he won't be writing anymore "insider books" about this White House. They do not tolerate criticism under any circumstances, much less what I am sure they see as a betrayal. The only way Woodward gets into the White House now is through the tour.