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WaPo’s Woodward Hawks New Book on CSPAN; Predictably Laments Compromise Dead in Washington

posted at 9:31 pm on September 18, 2012 by

Bob Woodward

Liberal Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward appeared on the September 17 C-SPAN program Washington Journal to hawk his new book The Price of Politics.

In the process, Woodward promoted the same stale narrative that compromise is dead in Washington mostly because of those rascally, conservative Republicans, but sought to import a fair measure of melodrama to the stalemate in Washington using the words of a Biden aide to describe the summer’s debt ceiling crisis as “an economic Cuban Missile Crisis.”

One way Woodward used to describe the breakdown of compromise was the story where Speaker of the House John Boehner didn’t return President Obama’s phone call during the negotiations.  He said this was unprecedented. Woodward reiterated White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew’s disgust at this event – citing Mr. Lew’s past career as an aide to Democratic Speaker Tip O’ Neill in the 1980s, who used to immediately call President Reagan back if needed.

Of course Boehner has his side of the story, and it’s quite plausible: he was trying to get the congressional players together, work out a deal, and avoid sabotaging the financial markets with news that the talks completely collapsed.  Some may call that leadership and responsibility, but it’s just an “excuse” to Woodward.

In fairness, Woodward does “point the finger” at virtually every political actor in his book, including President Obama for his lack of presidential leadership. Even so, the veteran journalist and author backtracked on his Obama criticism at about 20 minutes into yesterday’s program.  Woodward said how Vice President Biden was put in charge of the negotiations and said that the main problem was not the Vice President lack of knowledge of the issues, but Republican intransigence on revenue increases.

Late in the interview, Woodward recounted at how Obama complained to him at the end of an interview that “He said to me, you know if Bob Dole had been the minority leader – the majority leader, I’m sorry – as he was in the 1990s, in the Clinton administration, or Newt Gingrich [was] the Speaker, we would have been able to work this deal out.’ Whether that’s the case or not, the president has a very strong argument that there’s less flexibility with the House Republicans now then there was during the Gingrich era.”

He also said Democrats never forget Mondale:

If you don’t have the political will to get up and say we’re going to have to take pain, we’re not going to get there. As background music to all this is the memory everyone has, particularly Democrats, of Walter Mondale in 1984, running against Reagan, said “I’m gonna raise your taxes,” and Mondale got slaughtered in that campaign. So no one wants tell the full story, or the truth. But the government’s gonna have to get revenue and the government’s gonna have to cut back somehow.

Conservatives would argue that with almost $16 trillion in debt and four consecutive years of trillion-dollar budget deficits, it’s no time to dilly-dally on budget reform.   What’s more, in Obama’s first two years in office, Congress passed almost all of President Obama’s domestic agenda from ObamaCare to the stimulus package to Dodd-Frank. The electorate reacted strongly against that agenda, turning the House back to Republicans and chipping away at the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Midterm elections have consequences, and it’s unfair to expect Republicans to do anything less than fulfill the promises they made to an electorate displeased with the Obama agenda.

As for Woodward, he insisted he was objective. “This is a politically neutral presentation of what occurred,” he proclaimed. At the end, he added:

There is scene after scene where the Republicans are not going to budge on some of these things. In their view, they’re adhering to the Constitution. In their view, they’re doing what’s necessary. But the key point is that Speaker Boehner is at least the nominal leader of the republicans in the house, opened these negotiations last year with the president.

There are all kinds of offers and discussions going back and forth on this, and so you can see the detail. You may blame Obama, you may blame the Republicans, you may blame me for writing about it, whatever it is, but this is, if you will, the performance review. This is what we used to call “the best obtainable version of the truth.”

Originally posted on Newsbusters.

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Republican intransigence on revenue increases.

Translation = refuse to raise taxes.

Blake on September 18, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Compromise is dead? There was never any “compromise” to begin with. Democrats want a lot of deficit spending, Republicans (are supposed to) want no deficit spending. When the two meet in the middle, we get some deficit spending, depending on how much, if any, the Republicans wanted. Basically, one party gets some of what they want (Democrats), while another party has to abandon their principles to look like they’re playing nice or risk demagoguery on a nuclear level (that’s be the Republicans).

It’s time the Republicans took a stand. The Tea Party dragging the GOP back to the right, where they belong, is the greatest grassroots coup in a very long time. The only reason the Democrats don’t like the new way of doing things is because they’re finding, for the first time in years, that we’re not just going to hand them what they want.

mintycrys on September 18, 2012 at 9:51 PM

In the process, Woodward promoted the same stale narrative that compromise is dead in Washington mostly because of those rascally, conservative Republicans

There are only so many times that the ‘Lucy’ Democrats can tell the ‘Charley Brown’ Republicans that they will hold the football for them to kick before they figure out she’s lying.

After dozens of fraudulent Democrat promises of ‘spending cuts later for tax increases today’ even the Republicans have it figured out and won’t willingly play those games when the public is watching.

RJL on September 18, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Republican intransigence on revenue increases.

This is how you can tell a liberal attempting to appear neutral. Why is it that they ALWAYS assume that increasing taxes will increase revenue? They keep trying to apply an algebraic equation against a calculus problem!

dominigan on September 19, 2012 at 12:58 AM

It’s time the Republicans took a stand. The Tea Party dragging the GOP back to the right, where they belong, is the greatest grassroots coup in a very long time. The only reason the Democrats don’t like the new way of doing things is because they’re finding, for the first time in years, that we’re not just going to hand them what they want.

mintycrys on September 18, 2012 at 9:51 PM

When a liberal “friend” of mine went off on the TEA Party, I pointed out that at least we’ve been working on cleaning the corruption out of the Republican party for the last few years. WHAT HAVE THEY BEEN DOING? He couldn’t answer. He knew darn well that corruption thrives in the Democratic Party.

I also pointed out that I think the reason liberals say all those nasty things about the TEA Parties… is because they have been successful at cleaning out much of the corruption. And without the corruption in the Republican party to finger-point at, the corruption within the Democratic party becomes obvious… and the libs don’t want that since it undermines their messaging, which is what keeps them in power!

My liberal “friend” unfriended me in Facebook.

dominigan on September 19, 2012 at 1:04 AM