The Inside Man

Frank Rich reminded us a few years back that the most famous phrase from All The President’s Men, “follow the money,” was not written, as many believe, by Bob Woodward (or for that matter, Carl Bernstein). The author was William Goldman, who wrote the screen play for the movie. Its Hollywood fiction making the true story sound better.

Whether he wrote it or not (and I bet he wouldn;tdeny it is his) Bob Woodward is particularly good at using fiction to make truth sound better.   A consummate establishment apologist masquerading as a journalist, his books always made the people in power much more powerful, with the result that it made him look like the most inside insider.  With the possible exception of Judith Miller, no working journalist (as opposed to a talking head) in history has ever had his nose nestled deeper into the back side of the establishment than Bob Woodward. A few years back, he made a massive mistake, sticking his head so far up the Moron George Busch’s ass that Dubya thought he was a hemorrhoid. I refer of course to Woodward’s first two books on the Busch Administration, Plan of Attack, “the definitive account of how and why (that Moron George W. Busch), his war council, and allies launched a preemptive attack to topple Saddam Hussein;” and Bush at War,a behind the scenes narrative of the beginnings of (that Moron George W. Busch’s) war making in Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Both books idealized Busch as a great leader and strategic thinker, boldly moving into the uncharted territory of a war on terrorism. Neither took note of the lies, incompetence and foolishness that truly marked the early years of the Busch response to September 11, 2001.

It did not take long for the truth to come out. Thomas Ricks, Seymour Hersh, Hans Blix, Joe Wilson, a panoply of experts and writers made it clear that the Busch Administration had screwed the pooch. And the Truth made Woodward small. But no one is faster at getting back into the game then Bob Woodward. Busch is a Moron? Of course, Woodward says, I knew it all the time! State of Denial, published in 2006, “examines how the Busch administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the people, to Congress and often to themselves,” … facts he could and should have written two years earlier. This week he came out with The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008,” where Woodward’s ultimate conclusion is that Bush “too often failed to lead.” (WOW, Really?) The publication date comes with a carefully orchestrated release, complete with a leak to Fixed News, excerpts for four days in the Washington Post, and a full publicity blitz. Woodward is once again the consummate insider, and will soon be making money hand over fist.

I have a suggestion. Gary Trudeau also has a book called “The War Within.” Its about B.D’s efforts to cope with losing his leg in Iraq and overcoming PTSD. Trudeau is donating the money he makes on the book to Fisher House, a charity that helps mililtary families find housing and other assistance while they wait for their loved ones to obtain rehabilitation services from war injuries. Maybe Bob Woodward should do the same.  He could get them to give him a photo op, and make him a national hero for his generosity.

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