Glenn Greenwald caught this brilliant example of power-subservient journalism in Washington – a moment when one the country’s most celebrated reporters defines what it means to be a hack so perfectly that people like Glenn Greenwald only have to lay out the transcript to let it speak for itself. Here’s Woodward speaking on “Morning Joe”, blasting Obama for withholding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf because the Pentagon is preparing for the sequestration that mandates spending cuts for all agencies, including the military budget:
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’ Or George W Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president, because of some budget document.
“Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
As Greenwald points out, this was actually a law enacted by Congress and signed by Obama (ie. it’s legally binding). But not good enough for Woodward, who believes the President can override laws when it comes to military action and do as he pleases. Writes Greenwald:
How ironic that this comes from the reporter endlessly heralded for having brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency on the ground that Nixon believed himself above the law. Nixon’s hallmark proclamation – “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal” – is also apparently Bob Woodward’s.
The screed against Obama is silly for several reasons – one being the perpetuation of the myth that by only sending one aircraft carrier in the Gulf, the United States becomes vulnerable to attack from the big baddies in the Middle East. Given the US spends more money on its military that every country on the planet combined, claiming the President isn’t doing what he needs to do ‘to protect the country’ is simply laughable. The President could press a button in the White House and blow Iran off the face of the planet. It doesn’t need an aircraft carrier to defend itself.
But that’s not the point. It serves the interests of the Pentagon and the affiliated military industrial complex to continue this myth in order to maintain the status quo: A vastly bloated military and no spending accountability whatsoever. Everyone in Washington makes a lot of money, poor kids get education cuts, and Bob Woodward gets to write books for 50 year old white men who do Civil War enactments in their spare time.
Woodward has been well rewarded for switching off his integrity and serving the interests of power in Washington – he’s made a lot of money peddling books and showing up on TV to offer ‘inside analysis’ of the DC political scene. It’s sad to see someone who is supposed to hold power to account lining up behind it and arguing for its expansion, but that’s what money and fame does to people more concerned with being relevant than telling the truth.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.