I see that Bob Woodward went on Face the Nation today. In the course of talking about his much-discussed exchanges with White House aide Gene Sperling, Woodward invited the president of the United States to come to his house -- sort of:
Bob Woodward ... said that he was going to invite Sperling over to his house, and he hoped the president would come with him, "I'm in the business of listening, and I'm going to invite him over to my house if he'll come, and hopefully he'll bring others from the White House -- maybe the president himself. ...Talking really works."Now, I'm not in favor of an imperial presidency. But a certain amount of respect has been traditionally according to presidents by the Beltway establishment ... with exceptions made for, um, certain presidents. Can you imagine what the reaction would have been like if a journalist perceived as hostile to Republicans -- Seymour Hersh, say, or Dan Rather -- had publicly invited an adviser to Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush for a discussion at his house, and added that he hoped the president himself would tag along (thus not only suggesting that the president should travel to a journalist's house, rather than the other way around, but relegating the president to "+1" status)?
The insolence! The cheek! The disrespect! The invitation would be treated as more evidence that liberals have no common decency, no respect for the presidency, no respect for America.
But this is Bob Woodward we're talking about, he of the legendary "Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets," as Politico recent put it. Or as another reporter wrote a decade ago:
The moment you enter Bob Woodward's Georgetown home, you realise that he long ago crossed the threshold from ordinary working journalist to something far grander. It has the mansion-like dimensions of a diplomatic residence....By contrast, the president of the United States is just a temporary government worker whose perks include free housing. (Or at least that's how the president is perceived if he has a "D" after his name.) He'll be gone in a few years. Woodward, by contrast, is part of the permanent Washington establishment.
As Woodward's late colleague David Broder said about another Democratic president in 1998, "He came in here and he trashed the place, and it's not his place." Washington is not Obama's place, either. It is Woodward's.