He spoke at Miami University, and members of the Honors program (which, despite my alcohol intake, I was a part of) got to go attend a private lecture with him. Yours truly was selected to introduce the esteemed speaker to the small group of students and faculty for a Q & A session that would proceed Woodward's speech that night.
I threw together a couple of autobiographical details, a few quick jokes (one about "Deep Throat" [naturally], one about being less handsome than Robert Redford [of course]—the usual Bob Woodward crowd-pleasers). Yet from the moment he opened his mouth following my introduction, Woodward ascended straight to my Shit List.
Here are the four reasons that Bob Woodward is on my Shit List:
1) Most of Woodward and the group’s discussion that day in 2005 centered around the obvious questions of President
As I sat there, however, listening to the man deftly side-step any actual reckoning of Bush's actions in the Middle East, I grew frustrated. Finally, I raised my hand and asked the following:
"Okay, but clearly Bush can't just go on like he's doing now in Iraq. The place is a mess and it's only getting worse. Eventually he's going to have to do something because people are going to get sick of watching American kids get blown up. And you talk about history? What's history going to think if he leaves this mess for the next guy in office? Eventually he'll start thinking legacy and he'll have to do something."
Woodward looked at me with a bemused smile. "I don't know if that's the case," he said. "President Bush is not someone who cares about his poll numbers, about what people think of him. He does what he does out of conviction. I sat across from him for 2 hours," (this was the like the ninth time he'd dropped the amount of time he'd spent with Bush; like they had time to get acquainted with each other's teets). "I got a look at him," he said, in that moronic way people do when they sit across from someone famous and claim this allows them some special insight. Hell, it's what Bush famously said about Vlad Putin.
"And do you know what he said to me when I asked him how he thought history would judge him?" Woodward asked us. "He shrugged and said, 'Who knows? We'll all be dead.'"
Woodward smiled at me as if to say, "Huh? Pretty good, right? Bet you've never met someone who's met the president, huh little boy!"
I stared at him, hoping there was a punch line. There was not. "Don't you think that's something of a profound statement?" he asked the group.
"Did you just call George W. Bush profound?" I asked, and everyone in the room grew uncomfortable, including myself. But "who knows, we'll all be dead" is the opposite of profound when you've sent a few hundred thousand troops to occupy a tinderbox of a country for shady reasons. Or maybe I missed the part where we wanted a seventh grader's cut-rate interpretation of Friedrich Nietzsche making policy. He pointed to another hand, and I was left to mull who was the bigger dipshit: George W. Bush or acclaimed journalist Bob Woodward. All of which brings me to my next point:
2) Less than a year after I introduced Woodward, he published his third book on the administration of George W. Bush and its invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The first two in the series, "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack" were largely flattering; if not hagiographies than a mere step back. Their narratives portrayed a strong, convicted leader intent on fighting terrorism and tyranny wherever he saw it, of spreading freedom as far as he could with the time God had given him. Woodward's third book, "State of Denial," offered a complete contrast.
Heavily critical of the Bush White House, it portrayed a group of political hacks in over their heads, a fractured group of ideologues dragging the country ever deeper into a morass. It was a “
3) During the discussion my professor, Pat Haney, asked Woodward's opinion on the Judith Miller controversy, Miller being the reporter for
Of course, not a month later it would surface that Bob Woodward was so full of shit that had he sneezed during his lecture that night, he would have soaked the first three rows of the audience in frothing diarrhea. Woodward knew plenty of the Miller case because he himself had been privy to Plame's identity. In other words, someone had leaked this little nugget to Woodward before Miller, likely the man who would go on trial for perjury, Cheney's lap-dog, Scooter Libby.
4) Finally, proof that Bob Woodward must have lucked into the Watergate story because the man has the actual political IQ of a moldy avocado, during his lecture at Miami University all those years ago, he spoke and answered a slew of questions. When asked about the possible presidential candidates for 2008, he gave the usual stock answers of Hillary and McCain, but then surprised the audience with this prediction: The real candidate to watch from the Republican Party was none other than Vice-President Richard Cheney. He reasoned that Cheney was in a perfect position to declare a surprise run for the White House, and that we should all mark his words come 2008.
Given that Dick Cheney's approval ratings were hovering near negative numbers, that he couldn't open his mouth without lying about the situation in Iraq, and that he had the personality of a muttering dark sorcerer, it was more likely that the Republican Party would nominate Barbara Streisand. The very fact that Woodward was paid tens of thousands of dollars to stand up there and say something that any political science major with a functioning brain cell could tell was idiotic irked me plenty.
Given this experience with him, it doesn't surprise me in the least that he would go "full wingnut." In preparing this column I looked back at notes I'd written to myself in 2005 and this was the sentence that stuck out: "The guy should be wearing yellow suspenders, clown shoes, and a big f***ing cone on his head that says 'Dunce.'"