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White House Tries To Spin Woodward Book

From Jake Tapper at ABC News:

White House Reacts to (NYT Report About) Woodward Book

US Books Woodward

Jake Tapper
September 22, 2010

Legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book "Obama’s Wars" hasn’t hit stores yet, but the New York Times’ Peter Baker got a copy and has published some choice excerpts. Some highlights, per Baker:

* The book describes President Obama pushing a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

* The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke says of the new strategy, “it can’t work.”

* Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the president’s adviser on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is said to think president’s reviews of the strategy going forward did not “add up” to his ultimate decision

A senior administration official who read the book says "the President comes across in the review and throughout the decision-making process as a Commander in Chief who is analytical, strategic, and decisive, with a broad view of history, national security, and his role."

The official says of the descriptions of the infighting in the book that "the debates in the book are well known because the policy review process was covered so exhaustively."

Really? How come it is the first we are hearing about it?

At the time, we were told that Mr. Obama was just having a hard time making up his mind and that he needed some quiet time to reflect.

To make its argument, the White House provided these excerpts from the book to prove the following points:

Focusing the review around central questions – “Obama had questions he wanted answered more concisely.  Can al Qaeda be defeated and how? Do you need to defeat the Taliban to defeat al Qaeda? Can a counterinsurgency strategy be effective in Afghanistan given the capacities of the Afghan government? What can we realistically expect to achieve in the next few years. What presence to we have to have in Afghanistan in order to have an effective counterterrorism platform?”

This is cited as showing Mr. Obama to be “a Commander in Chief who is analytical, strategic, and decisive”? At best, he sounds like a ‘visiting lecturer’ throwing out random questions to his students.

By the way, isn’t this the same Mr. Obama who told us during the campaign that we had to do more in Afghanistan than raid villages and kill civilians.

Didn’t he have a better plan back then? Was he just pretending?

Pressing on intelligence reports – “I’ve been up at night reading intelligence reports, Obama said at one point.  On one early page, it said – as Lavoy had noted – that Pakistan was overwhelmed with concern that the United States would pull out of Afghanistan and the region as it had done before.  Much later, Obama said, the report warned that Pakistan dreaded having a large Afghan army on its border that might be in an alliance with India. One of the U.S. objectives is to build that army,  How do you explain the contradiction? Obama asked.  What exactly was Pakistan worried about – too much or too little? ‘What am I to believe?’”

Wait a minute? During the campaign weren’t we led to believe that Mr. Obama was an expert on Pakistan, having visited there once when he was in college. He even knew how to say the name right.

Preparing relentlessly – “Holbrooke went back to his office at the State Department, where his small staff had been complaining that they were up all night drafting analysis papers that went unread.  ‘There’s one person in the room who reads them,’ Holbrooke told them, ‘and that’s the main they are intended for.’”

Gosh, that sure is impressive. Mr. Holbrooke believed that Mr. Obama read his reports. Well, now we are convinced that Mr. Obama is a “analytical, strategic, and decisive” Commander In Chief.

Pushing to get the right strategy – “The President repeated that he wanted the graph moved to the left. Get the forces in faster and out faster, ‘You tell me that the biggest problem we have now is that the momentum is with the Taliban and the reason for this resource request is that the momentum is with the Taliban. But you’re not getting these troops into Afghanistan’ for more than a year. ‘I’m not going to make a commitment that leaves my successor with more troops than I inherited in Afghanistan.’”

Sorry, but this would seem to only buttress the claims that Mr. Obama was obsessed with getting out of Afghanistan ASAP, rather than that he was looking out for the best interests of the US.

White House officials are still matching New York Times excerpts with anecdotes in the book but one says not all the quoting is fair, especially Vice President Biden saying Holbrooke is “the most egotistical bastard I’ve ever met.” The quote was made during the transition and Biden also says Holbrooke may be the best man for the job

So the White House is not denying that the quote was accurate. They are just saying that Mr. Bite Me sang a different tune at a different time. What a surprise.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

27 Responses to “White House Tries To Spin Woodward Book”

  1. jobeth says:

    I see a house of cards about to come down….All together everyone …DEEP Breath…1,2,3, BLOOOOOW!

    Seems everyone is beginning to pile on…or shed themselves…depending on how you look at it.

    About time!.

    Hopefully this time next year…perhaps he will take a page out of Nixon’s book and quit. It could happen…! 8-D

    Of course then look what we would be faced with…Biden…If we could cause him to quit….ummm and if we gain control of the Senate…ummm….Yippee!

    Or am I getting ahead of myself….?

    • Right of the People says:


      It actually would be the Speaker of the House for ascension if the POTUS and VPOTUS were to take a powder. Since we actually have a great chance of at least controlling the House it would be a win-win situation.

      This war in Afghanistan is unwinnable with the current “rules of engagement”. You can’t win a war unless you go all out and destroy your enemy to the point they are no longer capable of fighting. That’s what happened in Iraq. We wiped out their armies and those we didn’t kill surrendered. The situation in Afghanistan is different since there is no massed army to oppose like in Iraq, just a bunch of crazy Mohammed loving towelheads.

      I’m not smart enough to know how to beat these clowns short of carpet bombing the whole country and paving it over but as much as it pains me I have to agree we need to get the hell out since all we’re doing is getting fine men and women killed for no reason. I’m of the opinion that we should have gotten out after we kicked out the Taliban. I only wish we could have found Bin Laden since that was the other main goal when we went in there nine years ago. We really need to eliminate the Taliban but I think we missed our chance a while back and now they’re too spread out to do it right.

    • jobeth says:

      “It actually would be the Speaker of the House for ascension if the POTUS and VPOTUS were to take a powder. Since we actually have a great chance of at least controlling the House it would be a win-win situation”

      Thanks Right…You got my point though…;-D…even though I should have said the House instead of Senate…I knew that, really I did…lol.

      As to the Afghanistan War. I agree fully with you. Its one thing to go in, guns blazing with the will to win. Quite another to putz around and play at it. Our soldiers are at much greater risk that way than if we went in all out with the will to win. Look at the “shock and awe” of GWB. That tactic saves lives. Putzing around loses the lives of our best and brightest…something that Obalmy could care less about…so long as we are not risking the lives of the terrorists with collateral damages. Grrrrr!

      This mindset of Obalmy is the Vietnam mindset all over again. Its always in the Democrats that play at a war. And people die while they have their heads up their arses.

      Who in the heck does he think he is to second guess men and women who have spent their lives deep in Military education and tactics. Then years and years actually doing the job they have been trained to do…To actually be a leader! To actually win a war!

      Something the Won knows nothing about.

      And in waltzes the “community organizer” and tells them how to run a war. And has a temper tantrum when they bulk at his nonsense. He can not accept the fact he isn’t the greatest thing since the world began…that he is NOT the great “I WON’ .

      Anyway thanks for the heads up on my mistake. :-D

  2. untrainable says:

    The poor new york times. They didn’t get the memo. Quoting these people is totally unfair. Using their own words against them is akin to racism… or radicalism. Don’t they understand that what they say means nothing? It’s HOW they say it, and more importantly, how they FEEL about it. You can’t expect the president to be responsible for his words. That’s so petty.

    All this “war” stuff is so boring. Why can’t they just leave Obama alone to do the important things. Perfecting his laser-like focus on jobs. Closing Gitmo. Getting cap and trade passed. THESE are the important issues we need to be concerned about. Well, that and bringing down his golf handicap. Working on that jumpshot. Having the bowling alley removed from the white house. Showing Obie throwing a baseball without looking like a girl. You know, the business of State.

    • hushpuppy says:

      “Having the bowling alley removed from the white house.”

      He is? Good grief! Where did you read that?

      I’m surprised The Won hasn’t built a drop-in center for his homies.

    • untrainable says:

      Oh, that was one of Obie’s original campaign promises. He was going to replace it with a basketball court. That would save us all the money he would have to spend taking air force one to Chicago to get a pick up game. It was a campaign promise so, judging by his track record on everything else he promised, who knows if it will actually happen. Think “lowering sea levels” type stuff. [sarc] praise our savior man-boy-king [/sarc]

    • hushpuppy says:

      LOL!! Yeah, let’s all bow to The Won! (trying to stifle my gag reflexes!)

  3. finebammer59 says:

    What is truly dangerous here is the level of spin and the cover being given this sorry excuse for a president in such treacherous times.

    Recall the msm’s admitted “mistake” in the run-up to the Iraq war. They weren’t asking enough or the right questions. They’re not only NOT questioning him, they’re covering for him.

    Look no further than the oil spill. (bet you forgot) hear anyone calling for an independent investigation for what went on in the mms (they’ve even changed the name so you’ll forget) in the run-up to that explosion???


    we’re in a very serious place in history, this lightweight’s flunkies are bailing out on him left and right and no one’s paying atten……. No it’s worse, they covering up for him.

    • hushpuppy says:

      To finebammer59 – This is a bit off topic – I clicked to go to your blog and heard ‘Autumn Leaves’. Brought back so many memories.

      Since I don’t have a Google account and didn’t feel like signing up for one just so that I can post a comment, I’ll say it here.

      To those who also know this is a bit off topic – I appreciate your patience with me :)

      “Hi- just wanted to say thanks for ‘Autumn Leaves’. This was my late, beloved father’s favorite song.

      I remember listening to this and other wonderful songs back in the late 50’s when I was young.

      Dad had a beautiful tenor voice and as he repaired things, or painted the house – whenever he was working within earshot and the song came on the radio, he’d sing along with it. Sometimes he’d sing harmony, sometimes the main melody.

      It’s almost 3 years now since he’s passed and how I miss him… I know one day we’ll all be together again, it’s just the wait that’s difficult.

      Many thanks for the wonderful memories.”

  4. Reality Bytes says:

    There’s a Giant “O” in the Ship of State & it’s Sinking!

  5. artboyusa says:

    “Focusing the review around central questions – “Obama had questions he wanted answered more concisely. Can al Qaeda be defeated and how? Do you need to defeat the Taliban to defeat al Qaeda? Can a counterinsurgency strategy be effective in Afghanistan given the capacities of the Afghan government?…”

    Sorry, but I don’t think these are “random questions” at all, I think these are sensible, basic questions which any responsible commander should be concerned about. That anyone, let alone the president, is still asking them after nine years shows how muddled and directionless our “strategy”, if it can even be called that, for winning this war has become (or may always have been). If we haven’t answered these simple questions by now, when will we answer them? We can’t even agree on who the enemy is or where he is, let alone how to defeat him.

    What we’ve seen in Iraq and in Afghanistan is some serious failures in our senior military and political leadership; our troops can shoot till their barrels melt and strive until their hearts break and it will all be for nothing unless their leadership do their jobs with the same courage and dedication we see on the ground. Will that happen with this president and these Joint Chiefs? I doubt it very much, unfortunately for our country.

    • Reality Bytes says:

      I seem to remember Artboy, Dick Cheney being very clear about our stategy, especially to Musharraf paraprasing, “You either do what we want or we’re going to bomb you back to the stone age (which except for their nuclear weapons program, isn’t that far).

      Unfortunately we aren’t dealing with military stategy but politcal aims; the latter trumping the former in our society.

      The US military did in 6 weeks what the Russians couldn’t do in a decade. I remember Rumsfeld’s remark when a reporter, concerned over the devastation of Taliban & Al Queda strongholds, asked, “Aren’t you running out of targets in Afghanistan?”

      With a shrug & a twinkle in his eye, Rumsfeld replied, “We’re not running out of targets in Afghanistan! Afghanistan is the one running out of targets.”

      I’m a first generation German American. I never met a lot of my relatives because they were killed in the firestorms over Breman & Dresden. Know what? I’m OK with it.

      War is Hell isn’t a statement of fact so much as it is situational tactic based on logistics in killing the bad guys along with some good ones unfortunately until the one’s that are left give up & want to be nice again.

      I don’t know, maybe I haven’t a clue. But I’ll tell you what, compared to what I see from Obama if RB were in that office, there’d be no mistake about what our intentions would be when any American soldier stepped onto a battlefield – WE WIN – YOU LOOSE – DEAL WITH IT!

      Course, without the American people behind the effort, the cause is always lost. That would
      be other reason why President RB would announce the RB Keep it Simple Stupid Stimulus Plan for 2012


      Not only would the stock market double in the next two years, but capital would come flowing back into the lending markets AND THE IRS WOULD TRIPLE THEIR REVENUE.

      Just one catch – CONGRESS CAN’T SPEND IT. Compared to Congress Spending, Killing Al Queda is the easy part.

      Gotta go. Payroll’s due.

  6. finebammer59 says:

    Of course, if you want the real skinney, just stop by your local news stand and pick up a copy of the rolling stone!

  7. proreason says:

    tn quoted from this a day or so ago, but the whole article is so brilliant, that it is worth a second mention. Doc Zero is becoming the best voice out there for the flummoxed middle class. He may be better at this point even than vdh.

    “…Translation: Experts say we’re all being irrational. The recession’s been over for a year! We should stop being such ingrates to the dazzling heroes who saved us from the Bush Great Depression, and get back to our assigned duties of creating jobs and pumping out tax revenue. By next week, this meme will go swirling down the memory hole, since it will dawn on Obama that he’s insisting the recession ended before he and his Congressional accomplices swindled us out of that trillion-dollar “stimulus.”

    “…“Future generations?” You mean the kids who will be born into bankruptcy because of your irresponsible spending, Mr. President? The truth is that Obama’s policies are entirely based on the concept of robbing future generations blind, to pay off current constituencies and expand government power.”

    Every word of this is a jewel. Much to much to quote everything here. Must read.


    • jobeth says:

      ” By next week, this meme will go swirling down the memory hole, since it will dawn on Obama that he’s insisting the recession ended before he and his Congressional accomplices swindled us out of that trillion-dollar “stimulus.”

      Could be this is one of those memos that was put on an automatic release date…and they forgot about it. Oops..!

      Not only the point you made above but to release it in the middle of the highest unemployment we’ve had in eons…and an expected new go ’round of new foreclosures…larger than the previous one, as well as other recession issues, is a bit like an unwelcome elephant in the room.

      Can’t hide how out of place it is and it won’t leave.

  8. oldpuppydixie says:

    Looks as though this will come down to the standard “who are you going to believe…US or your lying reading eyes” argument. Woodward was no doubt hoping to make Hussein look good, but apparently made the mistake of actually allowing some FACTS to slip into the text.

  9. bill says:

    Hah, no wonder Obama can’t pronounce victory.

    Goes along with his ineptness.

  10. proreason says:

    Beyond awesome.

    My bff, John Bolton, speaks about the revelations in Woodward’s book regarding foreign policy.

    Try not to jump out of your chair and kiss the monitor.

    Also notice how the todiefor Megan Kelley handles the lib loon on the panel…..and Bolton’s finale “I coudn’t care less what he says…”


    • jobeth says:

      Wouldn’t Bolton be a great President?

      I love that man. I get such a sense of confidence when I hear him talk…If only he had some real power.

      Megan has always been my favorite interviewer on FoxNews since she started. She is direct, focused and can’t be bamboozled. And she knows her stuff in any interview. She’s a tough interviewer if you are on the wrong side of an issue. She’ll drive home a question in ways they don’t get by with spin. Like a dog on a pant leg.

      Guess we have a full understanding of Obalmy’s views on the death or maiming of our soldiers now. “We can absorb the loss”. Tell that to the little boy and girl who lost their mommy or daddy due to us being able to “absorb” a few attacks…Or the soldier who will spend the rest of his life using artificial limbs .

      Obalmy is a beautiful example of the “Peter Principle” except he is TWO levels above his competency.

      He wasn’t worth a pimple on a Senators arse when he tried to pass for one, let alone president.

      He needs to go back to working in Community Action Agencies or what ever is passing these days for ACORN.

      Even there he’s dangerous.

      Something is going to happen real soon to this thin skinned narcissus.

      Either he’s going to follow his staff out the door (Just heard Rahm Emanuel is leaving by the end of Oct) or he’s going to emotionally break down.

      His behavior is getting more and more weird…and now that its “out there” for all the world to see and know about, where does he hide? He can’t spin the truth once its in the sunshine. I can’t see him running again and it wouldn’t surprise me at all for him to quit mid term…We can only hope.

    • tranquil.night says:

      “cold-blooded, cynical, grotesquely political manipulation ”

      John’s described the Ditherer-in-chief on basically every national issue since we first met him.

      As awful, painful, and dangerous as these revelations are, their impact is so oddly blunted because it’s just too unsurprising. You mean he only has us in the war still because it was politically practical? Duh. If he’d ended Afghanistan without letting the media have their chance to turn public opinion against it like Iraq then he’d have been facing the pitchforks before ever getting any of his domestic spending nukes launched out of congress. Ironically, now we’re practically to the point of saying get out because he’s single-handedly turning the situation into a quagmire. Which IMO is the real point of all this. I said it back during the McChrystal affair – he wants to pin a disastrous war and strategy entirely on the Pentagon and the NeoCons. It’s all political, it’s all about power and isolating political enemies.

      At this point, thinking that Barack Obama has anything other than the capabilities of his power and how to grow those in his heart and mind at all times is like believing vampires glitter like diamonds in the sun and aren’t just out for blood. With each consecutive public embarassment, he gets more erratic.. and undoubtedly more hateful.

  11. pamypo says:

    When Woodward get his two hours on 60 Minutes to push this book? NOT!

  12. hushpuppy says:

    White House Tries To Spin Woodward Book

    To quote Gomer Pyle: Sa-prahse, sa-prahse, sa-prahse!

    I would have thought that the very liberal Woodward would have written glowing accolades about the golden boy himself. This president most definitely has feet of clay.

    What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to protect this little man-child’s feelings?

  13. finebammer59 says:


    thanx for the comment and you’re quite welcome. My father used to take us for Sunday drives and that’s where I acquired the taste for Nat, The Chairman, Perry Como and others.

    It’s really sad that with that generation dying off, so it is with that music. (can’t find it on the radio anymore)

    Thank God for YouTube.

  14. finebammer59 says:

    I just remembered:

    “He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”

    from Bob Shapiro, former Clinton White House official and Obama supporter, speaking to Obama’s sagging polls and credibility.

    A senior administration official who read the book says “the President comes across in the review and throughout the decision-making process as a Commander in Chief who is analytical, strategic, and decisive, with a broad view of history, national security, and his role.”


    • hushpuppy says:

      Did you catch Rush’s commentary on the Woodward book yesterday? “Raging incompetence – dangerously so.” He went on to say ‘the attempt here was to make Obama look good. The attempt has backfired.”

      I hadn’t looked at it from that angle. I looked at it from the vantage point of being surprised; thinking Woodward would tackle a Dem Prez and tear him apart much like he did with his other books on Presidents, especially Bush! Now it all makes sense…

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Events he has bungled:

      Day trip to Copenhagen to stump for the Olympics in Chi-town
      Low-level passes over NYC for VIP tours and photo-op
      Police acting stupidly
      Maj Hassan gunning soldiers and family members down….then a “shout-out” to a bro when the opportunity for solemnity was called for
      Lies, lies, and more lies
      The Gulf oil spill…..slow to react, and then did so with an attack as well as piss poor decisions
      Siding with muslims at every opportunity

      These are just a few and they were as much about making him look “powerful” and “decisive” as they were about bringing this nation “down a notch”.

      His only “decisiveness” is how he can further undermine this nation and unravel our good name.

      Incompetent or calculating? Either way, the result is the same. He is destroying the US from within. I still hope it will survive since it would appear the people, who own this nation, aren’t putting up with it now that they see what’s going on.

    • proreason says:

      “Incompetent or calculating?”

      As Rush and you both say say, it doesn’t matter.

      But I think the “or” is misleading.

      He is both incompetent AND calculating. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      The Professor Gates incident is the classic example. Can there be any doubt that when asked the question, he made the rapid calcuation that the incident was his opportunity to “teach” the country what all black people “know”….which is that they never get a fair shake, or so thay say.

      At the same time, the Gates response was a stunning example of incompetance. Only a moron would fail to see how polarizing, inflammatory, and just plain wrong that statement was.

      Calculating AND incompetent. And I would add a third (which many observors are now beginning to say as well, albeit not as matter of factly as I say it)….STUPID.

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