Bob Woodward has become an enemy of the Obama regime. His crime? He warned the White House that he was about to publish an opinion piece in The Washington Post, which criticized President Obama’s handling of the forced budget cuts — known as the “sequester.”
Senior economic adviser, Gene Sperling, threatened Mr. Woodward, saying the journalist would “regret doing this.” Mr. Woodward wrote a best-selling book on the August 2011 budget deal. He interviewed congressional Democrats and Republicans, as well as administration officials. Blow-by-blow, fact-by-fact, Mr. Woodward demonstrates one incontrovertible truth: The sequester — the plan to implement across-the-board $85 billion budget cuts — was Mr. Obama’s idea. He proposed it. His staff largely drafted it. He signed the bill — and he owns it.
Yet for weeks, the president has been acting like a demagogue, seeking to pin the blame for the looming cuts in defense and domestic programs on the GOP. In short, Mr. Obama is lying. For revealing this, Mr. Woodward is now viewed by the White House as a traitor. It has declared war on him.
“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, ‘You’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,’ ” Mr. Woodward said.
In other words, the administration is assaulting freedom of the press. Its senior officials are threatening and attempting to bully journalists who criticize Mr. Obama. The irony is that Mr. Woodward is a liberal and a once-strong Obama supporter. He is not a conservative or some right-wing gadfly. Rather, for decades he has been a pivotal part of the Democratic media establishment. Liberals lionized him for helping to bring down President Richard Nixon. He was a relentless critic of President Ronald Reagan. He consistently defended President Bill Clinton, despite his numerous abuses of power. In short, he has embodied progressive conventional wisdom.
I don’t care for Mr. Woodward. Unlike some on the right, I refuse to now jump on his bandwagon, praising him as some brilliant, courageous muckraker whose journalistic integrity is beyond dispute. He — along with Carl Bernstein — waged a relentless campaign against Nixon for one reason: They despised his politics. Whatever Nixon’s crimes — political cheap tricks, enemies’ lists, domestic surveillance of critics — they were also committed by Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. They were Democrats. Hence, The Washington Post couldn’t have cared less. One need only see how Mr. Woodward was willing to turn a blind eye to Mr. Clinton’s numerous scandals to realize that he is nothing more than a creature of the Beltway. He serves the liberal ruling class. Like a moth to a flame, he is attracted to the burning fires of power.
This raises the question: Why is Mr. Woodward growing so disenchanted with Mr. Obama? He realizes that the president is an inept narcissist who is out of his depth. For Mr. Woodward to turn on Mr. Obama, it is obvious even the Beltway mandarins are getting nervous. America is about to careen off a real fiscal cliff, and Mr. Obama is asleep at the wheel. The national debt is soaring to nearly $17 trillion. The administration has racked up consecutive trillion-dollar deficits. Mr. Obama’s projected budgets reveal oceans of more red ink. The $85 billion sequester is a drop in the fiscal bucket compared to our $3.6 trillion annual budget. Instead of acknowledging this, Mr. Obama has been engaging in irresponsible fear-mongering — meat inspectors will be fired; air-traffic controllers will be let go; police officers and firemen will not be able to get paid; more than 800,000 Pentagon employees will be laid off. In short, according to the president, the sky will fall if the budget cuts kick in.
This includes protecting our national interests. Mr. Obama claims that he cannot deploy the USS Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf because of the sequester. Mr. Woodward rightly said that Mr. Obama was showing a “kind of madness I haven’t seen in a long time” for his decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier owing to alleged budgetary constraints.
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document’?” Mr. Woodward said on MSNBC.
No. But Reagan was a grown-up — not an immature community activist obsessed with being a celebrity president. In the end, however, Mr. Woodward is the victim of his own ideology and liberal journalism. The revolution devours its own children. Mr. Woodward rose to national prominence on the rubble of the Nixon presidency. The Democratic left despised Nixon and his defense of the “Silent Majority.” Mr. Woodward gave aid and comfort to the anti-war movement by destroying its main bulwark. Since the fall of Nixon, anti-American liberals — with the exception of the Reagan years — have been on a long march to power. Mr. Obama represents the culmination of ‘60s radicalism. Like a socialist autocrat, he is no longer willing to tolerate a hint of criticism — even from his own camp. Heretics like Mr. Woodward must be expelled. Nixon must be laughing in his grave.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio commentator in Boston.