Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bob Woodward's Book

My friend, an ardent Kerry supporter, insisted I read Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, which my friend contends is a scathing indictment of the Bush administration. I'm at chapter 5 and still looking for that scathing indictment. So far, I'm impressed with the Bush administration's approach, but we see what we're looking for, I guess. The facts, to the extent that Woodward reports them accurately, reflect well on the administration. What I also saw, which probably affected my friend's perception of the book, is Woodward's inability to refrain from unnecessary and often coded asides. Of Bush's entry into a January 10, 2000 meeting, Woodward says "Bush sauntered in like Cool Hand Luke, flapping his arms slightly, cocky but seeming also ill at ease." What does this mean? This is not a movie script. Did someone attending this inner circle meeting really report this to Woodward? (Although since a lot of the book is aimed at resurrecting Colin Powell, I would have my suspicions about who offered this cinematic moment.) Analyzed down, this is just a bit of editorial nastiness. The same holds true for this bit: "Bush had just read Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, a glowing portrait of President Teddy Roosevelt and his 'big stick' diplomacy of the early 20th centry. Even a casual reader of the 555-page text, even one inclined to skim, as Bush might have been, could not miss the message...." (Emphasis mine.) Please note the emphasized language. Woodward has not previously given the reader any reason to believe that Bush is incapable of reading a work of popular biography. This is, again, a gratuitous dig intended to clue in the reader that Bush is actually stupid. Or about this description of Paul Wolfowitz: "A 58-year-old Ph.D in political science, with long, trhick, graying hair and a soft, almost rabbinical manner...." There is no such thing as a "rabbinical manner." This is code for "Wolfowitz is Jewish." "The neo-cons are Jewish." This is, again, nastiness. Ultimately, at least up to ch. 5, the facts in this book speak for themselves, and they speak well of Bush and Co. The editorial asides and subtexts do not reflect as well on the book's author.