For your late night reading enjoyment — John Dickerson on the potential impact of Woodward’s book —
State of Denial is a significant blow to the president both politically and strategically. Politically it comes after the 9/11 anniversary restored some of Bush’s popularity and improved voters’ feelings about his administration’s competency. Democrats jumped on the new revelations, holding a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill to talk about the book before it had even come out, proving that press conferencesâ€”like many book reviewsâ€”do not require actually reading the book.
As a policy matter, the book undermines Bush’s attempts to strengthen the national will for the long and drawn-out fight ahead. For the last year, the administration has been unsuccessfully trying to get the mix in the president’s public statements right: enough candor to show people Bush is aware of what’s really going on in Iraq but enough optimism to keep Americans behind the fight. “There is a clear distinction between having confidence in your strategy and that ultimate success is achievable while also recognizing it will be extremely difficult to get there,” says a senior White House official. “The president’s speeches during the last year have struck that balance. What was Churchill saying during the middle of the blitzâ€”’have no fear, we’re losing and things won’t get better?’ Hell no; he was honest about the predicament, but confident that they would succeed. By no means am I saying the president is Churchillian, but there is a long history of war-time leaders being optimistic even during the darkest days.”
Woodward’s book undermines the effort to make this pitch. He charges the president has not been straight with the American people about how bad things are in Iraq and how much worse it’s going to get. But his most damning claimâ€”screaming at you right there in the titleâ€”is not that Bush is deceitful; it’s that he’s clueless. People many not care if Bush admits reality to the public, but they hope he’s admitting reality to himself. …
… Woodward isn’t going to change minds, but he’ll do something more dangerous: He will confirm the doubts about Bush that a majority of Americans already have.
See also Dan Froomkin.
Righties are dismissing Woodward’s new opus, of course. The Flopping Ace, just to choose one, simultaneously calls the work a “gossip novel” and a retelling of old news. But I have a question about what else the Ace said —
Isnâ€™t funny how just a few days ago we heard all over the news that Al-Qaeda was crying about getting their asses kicked from one side of Iraq to another?
All over which news? Does anyone have a clue what the boy is talking about? Or is this Nooz from the Alternate Universe?