Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Bob Woodward on Obama

Bob Woodward was interviewed by Charlie Rose last night. The link is here:

I have certainly had my differences with Woodward over the years; I think, among other things, he has not given Bush nearly enough credit for his change in strategy in Iraq or the impact the surge has had on altering the course of events there. That said, I have found Woodward to be quite open to hearing views that challenge his assumptions or conclusions and interested in maintaining an on-going dialogue. That is more than can be said about many journalists and, in fact, even about many non-journalists. Also, Woodward is often fairly measured in his analysis of events, including where things stand with Obama. For example, in the interview with Rose, Woodward said this:

Once I had somebody count it up, and it was 131 major initiatives, legislation, major appointments, major ideas… He is undertaking just about everything. And all of those things are like planes unlanded at the airport. They’re circling and we don’t know what order they’re going to land in, whether they’re going to land at all.

And later, he said this:

And clearly what’s interesting about Obama is he’s very decisive. He has a process of, “We’ve got this problem. Let’s hear everyone out. Let’s look at it.” And then he decides, and in most cases announces it. And so, there are all of those unlanded planes. And I think people are, as you suggest, waiting to see what happens, seeing if they’re collisions, crashes, or if just some of these planes disappear from the radar, which is quite likely.

That sounds about right to me. What will determine the course and verdict of the Obama presidency isn’t Obama’s style or speeches, not the thrills he sends up the leg of Chris Matthews or the elevation to the deity we see from Evan Thomas. It will be, to stay true to Woodward’s metaphor, which planes Obama sends up and whether and how they land. We are still in the early stages of the Obama presidency, so whatever conclusions we draw about Obama, must, for now, be considered preliminary.

During the Rose interview, there was discussion about the difficulty in anticipating what issues will define a presidency (in the first half-year of the Bush presidency, Woodward was concentrating his efforts on tax cuts; then came 9/11). One of the temptations to which many of us who inhabit the political world fall victim, is taking a snapshot in time and assuming that what is will always be, or trying to predict the future based on a straight line trajectory of the present. Life and the world are often untidy; things will change, often quickly and sometimes dramatically. In that sense, Woodward is correct; the center of gravity for Obama is yet to be revealed. And even Obama himself may not know what it is, or what it will eventually be.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.