Sign him up

Woodward was just too rich on 60 Minutes tonight. I simply can not believe as I’m sitting here that George Bush said the shit he did in these interviews, especially knowing that it was Bob Woodward who was sitting on the other side of the desk w/a tape recorder. I know Woodward hasn’t always acted like the return of Jacob Riis since ’74, but still he keeps coming up w/all these goodies & spilling them out on the table for everyone to pick through, while the dopey politiciansespecially the dopey Republican politicians, who you’d think would’ve maybe learned something by nowkeep swinging their doors wide open for him.

There’s no such thing as a silver bullet this early in a campaign, but if there was anything like justice in this world there would be in this case. Woodward made a lot of big charges tonight. For one thing, Bush told him that he gave the Saudi ambassador our war plans for Iraq not only two days before he bothered to inform our Secretary of State about them, but that he also showed His Excellency a map marked “NOFORN,” the James Bond-y designation for information that isn’t supposed to be shared w/foreign governments. Ambassador Beanbag or whatever his name is reciprocated this largesse by offering to cut American oil prices in time to make a difference in the current political season—& then ran out to his car where he reconstructed the top-secret documents he’d just been shown.There was also yakkety-yak about how Tommy Franks, whose integrity I once wrote a fairly admiring ode to, flatout lied to the world by saying he hadn’t been told to work up any war plans for Iraq, when in fact he’d been doing exactly that on Bush’s orders for the previous five months, & about how the White House paid for the invasion’s preparatory work in Kuwait by siphoning off $700M from funds earmarked for Afghanistan, in direct contravention, as Woodward good-naturedly pointed out, of the goddam Constitution.


What made this so credible was Woodward himself. Age, or rather aging (he still looks fighting trim), agrees w/him, & when he talks he makes you feel like he’s giving you the shit just as straight as he can. (Unlike Ben Bradlee, who I wouldn’t have bought a sandwich from.) It was a perfectly composed, convincing performance w/a frankly magnificently proportioned semse of humor underlying the seriousness of his charges. Best of all, those charges are utterly damning to Bush in the clarity of their significance, & leave scant room for any squirrely, wriggling questions about interpretation or bias. Taken together it was frickin’ impressive, & if Woodward’s specificity & perspective make Richard Clarke look like a forgettable footnote loon instead of the Democrats’ best hope, well, that’s probably all for the best, especially since Clarke stopped being a factor in this drama precisely because something about either him or his charges just never hit home in the American heart. Woodward, by contrast, is an enjoyably sneaky talker who tells his stories in a subtly believable way. For instance, when he’s recounting the moment when he asked Bush what history will think of him for the war, he describes just how Bush was standing & exactly how he pulled his hands out of his pockets to shrug in a feckless way before dispensing of the question w/something very like, “History? Who knows? We’ll all be dead.”

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