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  • Lance Mannion
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blue girl

I've always felt sorry for Berstein. Your example from the movie where he's left out of the conversation describes perfectly how I see him treated all the time.

I've been wondering today what he'll say about all of this. I'm going to go searching to see if anything yet...

Jeff Boatright

"His lawyers are just trying to poison the jury pool. "

I think you've missed what's going on here. This isn't about poisoning the jury pool. Attorneys and jury consultants have long ago figured out the impact of the press and how to deal with it in voir dire. No, this is all about the pardon. The ONLY reason Bush wouldn't pardon Libby et al. is the hit he and his party would take politically. If the Mighty Wurlitzer can make it look like Fitzgerald is incompetent and viciously partisan or just vicious, to the point that those under indictment or those who've been impacted negatively (e.g., Judy Miller) are made to look sympathetic, then Bush will IMMEDIATELY issue pardons.

I'd wager that the Republicans are just now turning on the spigots. They'll combine this with hourly polling. They've already got their break-even points figured. As soon as they hit those polling numbers, blanket pardons will be made.


And this is what makes Woodward so superficially successful as a journalist. He's uncritical. He knows where his sources are coming from and he's willing to see them as they see themselves.

But this doesn't make him successful as a journalist. It merely explains why he is in demand as a journalist, why he gets all sorts of exclusive "access." Can you imagine Bush doing lengthy sit down interviews with Sy Hersh?

Many people, including me, still had that 70's picture of Woodward right up until the Bush books came out. There were two things that really shattered my image of him:

1) "Slam Dunk, Mr. President!" These were Tenant's alleged words when he was being grilled by Bush on the WMD data. This hardly sounds like the same CIA director that was refusing to back up a lot of the admin's claims. Plus Tenant would have seen the dissents on the NIE, I really doubt that this ever happened, even assuming that Bush was really hard on questioning the data (and that, as we all know, is a pretty big assumption).

2) Rove is worried about Bush putting off beginning the '04 campaign. Bush resonds with somthing like "Damn the campaign, I've got to focus on the war right now" This is so transparent as to be laughable. Campaigns are about the only thing that Bush enjoys, witness his never ending social security "plan". That whole plan was nothing but 1) social security is in trouble, therefore; 2) private accounts. The whole how to pay for it was someone else's problem. Likewise, his whole contribution to the war plan was 1) invade 2) democracy everywhere. That was the whole thing from Bush's perspective, he would never even think about the war once step one was finished.

OK, now I'm really wandering off topic here, sort of, but Bush's approach to, well just about everything, is to get some pie in the sky idea that sounds good and make everyone else try to actually implement his half-baked ideas. That's why he couldn't think of any mistakes back during the campaign - he hasn't made any. Mock him if you must but never speak ill of the plan. The plan works, the plan is rock solid.

Ben Jones

But it makes sense. Nixon and his gang were never part of the club.
That's the main thing he had in common with Clinton.

Strictly speaking Reagan may not have been in the club either, but he had money, and his friends had more money than God.

These things matter as much to Woodward as they do to Sally Quinn.

esposito's box

Great post, Mr. Mannion. I liked your Hoffman/Redford analysis quite a bit, I think the scene wherein Redford admits to being a Republican has a flicker of awareness of Woodward's insiderism flicker across Hoffman's face. I could be reading that into the scene in hindsight, but still.

Also the Didion quote is great. I don't think I'd wish to put it in anyone else's mouth. It reminded me that while I always think of Didion first and foremost as a great stylist in her best work, she could skewer her subjects with a merciless precision. Her diminutive wallflower approach contrasts pretty starkly from Woodward's journalism cum boosterism.

Speaking of Didion, I was surprised as well to see Play It as It lays on Time's Top100 list. For some reason her solemnity hasn't worked as well for me in her fiction, though I like the novels of hers I've read. I hope her new book on the passing of her husband is as good as buzz suggests.

Exiled in NJ

Over at Self Styled Siren
many film fans and experts and a few know nothings like this writer have been commenting on Biopics, and the choice of actors playing the roles. While All the President's Men is not a biopic, this post got me thinking that in ten-twenty years our image of Woodstein will be Redford and Hoffman.



You're right, I shouldn't have used the word successful there. "Rich as Croesus" would have been better. And you're characterization of Bush based on Woodward's portrayals strike me as right on. But, as you suggested with the weird Tenant quote, the words Woodward puts in people's mouths are quite probably not the words they actually used. I think Didion takes that on in her essay.


I always wondered if the Reagans were only tolerated by the Club for the sake of the Bushes.


I was surprised to see Didion's novel on TIME's list too. As a novelist I think she's learned more from her work as a screenwriter than from her experience as a journalist.


Very likely. I think Ben Bradlee has already been subsumed into the persona of Jason Robards.


the words Woodward puts in people's mouths are quite probably not the words they actually used.

That is not so much of a problem, I would guess that many non-fiction writers "make up" conversations to make the book easier to read. It's just that Woodward's conversations are not plausible.

And, per my theory on Bush's planning (because I never like to comment without bashing Bush in some way) it brings to mind a scene from the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy. The drug comany execs are bringing in all the researchers to see if they should keep their jobs, when this fellow shows up:

Scientist: I've invented a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends.
Don: Uh, right, and what's positive about that?
Scientist: Well, it's a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends.
Don: Couldn't it also give worms to ex-boyfriends?
Scientist: This is a drug... for the world... to give worms to ex-girlfriends.
Don: Well, great. Thanks for stopping by.
Scientist: You just don't get it here! Huhoooo!

It sounds exactly like Bush's speeches on Social Security.


Exiled & Lance: They showed a picture of Ben Bradlee the other day and I realized, to my embarrassment, that I was startled not to see Robards up there. Woodward and Bernstein were well cast in "All the President's Men," though Redford's selection flatters the hell out of Woodward, looks-wise. Integrity-wise too, it would seem.

Reading Woodward's televised remarks about the Plame affair had me saying, "That SKUNK!"

Reading your piece reminded me of that infamous Sally Quinn article, about how the Clintons were just too-too tacky, dahlings. That's really what it was about. It certainly wasn't about much else.

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