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By Mr. Curmudgeon:
“I welcome debate among my team,” President Obama told the Washington Post’s journalism icon Bob Woodward, “but I won’t tolerate division.” The quote appeared in Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars,” which examined the president and his foreign policy team’s approach to overseas conflict. However, Obama could just as easily been speaking of his army of slavishly devoted journalists. Debating national issues on newspaper front pages and on cable news networks are fine, but everyone in the media must be on the same page at the end of the day. The community organizer won’t “tolerate division” among his media “team.”Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, violated the terms of that implied contract.
It all began with Obama’s and the Obama media’s narrative that automatic sequester spending cuts, which took effect on Friday, would be more devastating than the asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs. That House Republicans somehow hoodwinked the smartest man in America to sign the aforementioned sequester into law. Further, without dramatic tax increases, government will have no choice but to reduce nanny-state services to the nation’s dependent “47%.” Oh, and the spending cuts above will end America’s government-generated “recovery.”
That narrative began to unravel when a Woodward story appeared in the Washington Post last February 22 under the headline “Obama’s Sequester Deal-Changer.”
“The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall,” wrote Woodward, “… when President Obama blamed Congress. ‘The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,’ Obama said. ‘It is something that Congress has proposed.’
“My extensive reporting for my book ‘The Price of Politics’ shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of [Jack] Lew [than Obama’s chief of staff] and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.”
According to Woodward, the White House believed “a mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise.” This clearly implies that Obama’s “foremost experts on budget issues” planned a sequester that kept government spending on its unsustainable, upward trajectory, while making minor cuts in discretionary spending. The White House would blame Republicans for the nation’s impending doom, fully expecting weak-kneed House Speaker John Boehner to formulate a fiscal bargain that included tax increases.
The internal war raging between the GOP’s establishment leadership and their boisterous conservative and Tea Party members undermined that plan. By refusing to give Boehner their votes, temporarily threatening the Speaker’s rule, conservatives rendered Boehner a powerless Obama puppet, insuring that the president’s sequester plan took effect. This put the White House in a bit of a pickle. If the cuts went forward without a disruption in government services, the public might come to realize that life on Earth might go on despite deeper, real cuts in government spending. Obama had no choice but to manufacture a phony budget crisis.
Early last February, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry S Truman would not join a U.S Navy task force in the Middle East due to “budget uncertainty.” Panetta declared in a speech delivered at Georgetown University that the looming budget cuts created a “serious risk … that threatens our security and threatens our economic future.”
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document,” said Woodward during an appearance on MSNBC, “or George W. Bush saying, you know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need, or even Bill Clinton saying, you know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters’ … because of some budget document? … We now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this [sequester] agreement, [saying] I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Needless to say, the Obama media immediately circled the wagons. “The problem with Bob Woodward is that, for all his formidable reputation, he’s something of a meathead,” said Esquire magazine’s Charles P. Pierce, “He can’t write his name. His analysis is inevitably the most lugubrious recitation of the latest right-leaning Beltway conventional wisdom.”
“My dream is a Washington where no one talks to Woodward, but until that happens people will continue to pay attention to his biennial book-promoting cable news blitzes and occasional appearances in the pages of the newspaper that continued to pay him a salary – despite his withholding most of his original reporting from that newspaper,” wrote Alex Pareene of Salon.
As far as Atlantic magazine’s Adam Clark Estes is concerned, it was bad enough Woodward criticized Washington’s community organizer, but one act was especially egregious … Woodward appeared on Fox News.
“Woodward secured his status as the right’s new hero when he told [Sean] Hannity on Thursday night, ‘I get calls and e-mails from people telling me I’m insane to be on your show. I say, now wait a minute, you let me say what I want.’ He added. ‘You dig into things.’”
Eric Boehlert, at the George Soros-sponsored Media Matters, said, “… We do know Woodward’s now an honorary practitioner of the far right’s Phony Outrage Machine. That’s where never-ending allegations of Obama misconduct are churned out on a daily, and even hourly basis … where there’s always a new claim to replace the last debunked on in an effort to meet readers, listeners and viewers’ insatiable appetite for news about Obama’s supposedly wicked ways. (He’s assaulting liberty!)”
I end the Obama media’s Woodward-bashing with Eric Boehlert for a reason. You see, Boehlert was once a member of a group of left-leaning journalists that worked to mold favorable Obama press coverage during the 2008 presidential election. The group called itself Journolist.
But things got a little dicey for one Barack Hussein Obama when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the candidate if his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, “loves America as much as you do?”
According to emails exposed by the Daily Caller, Journolist members were concerned by the threat to Obama posed by Wright.
Spencer Ackerman, who wrote for the Washington Independent, said, “If the right forces us all [the media] to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them – Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares – and call them racist. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country?”
Kevin Drum, then working for the Washington Monthly, explained the importance of keeping Obama from having to explain his 20-year association with the man who said America deserved to be attacked on 9/11, “I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids … turning this into a gutter brawl [that] would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going to change the way politics works?”
Ackerman’s response set the tone for the Obama media moving forward, “I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.”
And they certainly have. The perpetual bleeding hearts on the New York Times editorial board decried the implementation of Obama’s engineered sequester in Saturday’s lead editorial. “Deficit reduction should not occur on the backs of the poor and vulnerable,” said the Times, “… smaller, vital programs will fall under the knife, in part because they are in spending categories deemed dispensable under the unthinking rules for across-the-board cuts.” The Times ended by asking, “Why are Republicans so happy when they should be ashamed?”
Unlike the Times, the Washington Post (Bob Woodward’s paper), which brought down President Richard Nixon’s corrupt administration, was unwilling to let Obama off the hook, “A bill by Republican Sens. James M. Inhofe (Okla.) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) would have given Mr. Obama a freer hand to decide where the budget ax should fall, thus mitigating the harm to national security and other public goods. It also failed; the White House had threatened to veto it anyway … Washington has reached a strange place indeed when the opposition party offers the president more control over spending – and he refuses it.”
It’s like Woodward said, “That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”