Saturday, June 13, 2009


Maybe I'm crazy to be worried about this, but a few days ago my interest was piqued by Gabriel Sherman's New Republic aricle about Bob Woodward's planned book on the Obama administration. Yeah, Woodward turned on Bush -- eventually -- but his early Bush books burnished W.'s image, while his writings on the Clinton White House, particularly the 1994 book The Agenda, harmed the reputation of the Clintons (and don't forget Woodward's 1996 revelation, in The Choice, that Hillary Clinton had conversations with an imagined Eleanor Roosevelt). Sherman says the Obama administration is concerned about the forthcoming book -- and I think Obama, being a Democrat, is right to be concerned.

What's Woodward's likely line of attack? Hard to say, but it might be thisty, according to Sherman:

One possibility, and a potentially worrisome one for this administration, is that Woodward will choose to focus on national security--the area where Obama has always seemed hypersensitive about being portrayed as weak and directionless. If he does, a likely source could be Obama's national security adviser, Jim Jones. A couple of years ago, Jones was a guest of Woodward at his wife Elsa Walsh's fiftieth birthday party held at Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee's house. "He and Elsa were glued to Jones at the cocktail party before the dinner started," one attendee told me.

Which brings me to this report from Newsweek's Holly Bailey:

Over at Foreign Policy magazine, the very well-connected Tom Ricks, formerly of the Washington Post, says he's "picking up the vibe" that some "powerful people" want to see Defense Secretary Robert Gates replace Jim Jones as President Obama's national security adviser....

Bailey cites Steve Clemons of the Washington Note (who quotes an e-mail about Jones that says, "Knives getting longer") as well as a recent David Ignatius column in The Washington Post, in which Gates denied that there's friction involving Jones. Fox News fanned the flames a couple of days ago, tossing in this detail:

One NSC staff member claimed that Jones is so forgetful that at times he appears to have Alzheimer's disease.

Will Jones become so disgruntled that he'll agree to be a prime source for an Obama-bashing Woodward book? Or perhaps -- and yes, this is more paranoid -- are certain people rumor-monering because they want Jones to become so disgruntled that he'll agree to be a prime source for an Obama-bashing Woodward book?

It does look as if Team Obama knows this is a potential problem. But will the Bradlee/Quinn/Woodward/Post crowd ultimately win this battle, smacking down the Democratic usurper? Do they think he's trashing the place, and it's not his place?

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