I have not been sent, like the New York Times, an advance copy of Bob Woodward’s new insider tome on the Obama administration — Obama’s Wars — but I have read the Times’ coverage and, if accurate, I have a better title to suggest to Mr. Woodward and his publisher Simon & Schuster — All the President’s Creeps.
Sexy, no? Redford and Hoffman might even still (barely) be available for the movie version. But this time they shouldn’t play Woodward and Bernstein. They could be Emanuel and Axelrod. (Okay, with a little makeup.)
From the once-upon-a-midnight-dreary newspaper of record:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was overall commander for the Middle East until becoming the Afghanistan commander this summer, told a senior aide that he disliked talking with David M. Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, because he was “a complete spin doctor.” General Petraeus was effectively banned by the administration from the Sunday talk shows but worked private channels with Congress and the news media.
And the book recounts incidents in which Adm. Dennis C. Blair, then the national intelligence director, fought with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and John O. Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser.
During a daily intelligence briefing in May 2009, Mr. Blair warned the president that radicals with American and European passports were being trained in Pakistan to attack their homelands. Mr. Emanuel afterward chastised him, saying, “You’re just trying to put this on us so it’s not your fault.” Mr. Blair also skirmished with Mr. Brennan about a report on the failed airliner terrorist attack on Dec. 25. Mr. Obama later forced Mr. Blair out.
Say good-bye to Blair but keep Rahm and David — that’s our Barack.
But does all this ring true? More or less in the way most of Mr. Woodward’s “insta-histories” do. We know the drill by now. All the Beltway riff-raff — panicked their side of the story won’t come out — rush to leak to him before their competitors do, filling up reams of notebook paper for Bob. And what he doesn’t get, he can always make up. Who’s to debate it really? At least he’s more reliable than Oliver Stone.
Back to the Times’ article, however. It doesn’t speak well for Obama as an executive, chief or even lowly. The atmosphere he has created is, well, downright creepy:
Although the internal divisions described have become public, the book suggests that they were even more intense and disparate than previously known and offers new details. Mr. Biden called Mr. Holbrooke “the most egotistical bastard I’ve ever met.” A variety of administration officials expressed scorn for James L. Jones, the retired Marine general who is national security adviser, while he referred to some of the president’s other aides as “the water bugs” or “the Politburo.”
Politburo? I’ve heard tea party folks and others accuse Obama of being a socialist, but I’ve never heard any of them go nearly so far as his own national security adviser, who uses full-bore Bolshevik terminology for the staff. Maybe he’s right. From what I’ve heard elsewhere, Biden is right about Holbroke, whose reputation as “the most egotistical bastard” is well known.
As for Obama, Woodward says he lectures his staff like a professor and gives them homework. Good grief! I can’t imagine anything more tedious. I’d rather have ten years of non-stop root canal.
So Rahm, run for the hills. The time is ripe — Jesse Jackson Jr. has apparently self-immolated and you are as good as mayor. I don’t know what Axelrod will do. He can probably go back to his cheesy political public relations firm. That’s what he does anyway — and he could be paid better for it.
Meanwhile, regarding Herr Professor Obama, there’s only one president in our lifetime I could see having behaved the same way. You all know it, but I’ll say it — Jimmy Carter.