Alex Pareene – Bob Woodward rocked Washington this weekend with an editorial that hammered President Obama for inventing “the sequester” and then being rude enough to ask that Congress not make us have the sequester. [...] Woodward’s most recent Obama book also took the position that presidents “should work their will … on important matters of national business,” though how one’s will should be worked on a congressional opposition party led by a weak leader and unwilling even to negotiate with the president is never really explained. As Jonathan Chait points out, “use mind control to get your way” is an incredibly popular argument among centrist establishment political reporters and analysts. It is a convenient way of taking a debate where most people agree that one side has a reasonable position and the other side an unreasonable position and making it still something you can blame “both sides” for. Sure, the Republicans are both hapless and fanatical, but the president should make them not be.
Jonathan Chait – The first part of Woodward’s claim — that Obama’s side came up with the sequestration idea — is very narrowly true, but it’s a meaningful point only if you ignore everything that happened before and after. [...] Woodward’s second point — “moving the goalposts” — has been torn to shreds like a hunk of meat tossed into the lion cage. Brian Beutler points out that the law didn’t call for spending cuts to be put into place, it called for “deficit reduction.” David Corn adds that Boehner himself conceded the possibility, however remote, that sequestration could be replaced with some mix of higher revenue and lower spending. Dave Weigel points out that Woodward’s own book says the same thing.
Then Bob Woodward went on Morning Joe – “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document? 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,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document? Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, 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.”
Steve Benen — Woodward is outraged because the deep sequester cuts to the Pentagon have interfered with the deployment of the U.S.S. Harry Truman, which will remain stateside due to budget constraints. For Woodward, there’s no reason for the president to be limited by a “piece of paper” or “some budget document.” What the journalist is referring to, however, is a little something known as the current law of the United States. In other words, Bob Woodward — who used to go after presidents for breaking the law — went on national television this morning to condemn a sitting president for not ignoring federal law.
Daily Intelligencer – Since writing a column last weekend… Bob Woodward has become, as Politico puts it, the “unlikely darling of the right wing.” Judging from the legendary reporter’s latest move, it seems he’s embracing that role. On Wednesday Woodward told CNN that last week a “very senior person” at the White House told him his argument is factually wrong, then threatened him in an e-mail. “It was said very clearly, ‘you will regret doing this,’” Woodward said.
TPM – So was Gene Sperling threatening to sic the black helicopters on Woodward and like fully take him out? The blog and twitter-hordes of the right think so. And they’re circling round Woodward tonight in a glorious defense. The White House denies it. A White House official tells us: “Of course no threat was intended. As Mr. Woodward noted, the email from the aide was sent to apologize for voices being raised in their previous conversation. The note suggested that Mr. Woodward would regret the observation he made regarding the sequester because that observation was inaccurate, nothing more. And Mr. Woodward responded to this aide’s email in a friendly manner.”
Daily Intelligencer – thanks to the aide’s use of the word “regret” the focus will now shift from Woodward’s argument to whether or not the White House is bullying reporters — particularly because that’s more entertaining than actually talking about the sequester.
Alex Pareene – In 2010 he said a Hillary Clinton-Joe Biden switch was “on the table,” although it was not. He suffered no professional consequences for saying made-up nonsense. Bob Woodward has lost it, let’s all stop indulging him.