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Taste the heroism.
I think what we have here in this last too-maudlin Woodward story is a classic case of a media in love with reporting on themselves. Woodward himself has become an icon of that sort, someone whose stories are promoted not for what they contain, but who wrote them. Stories Bob Woodward writes are primarily access-based stories about Bob Woodward, and who's talking to him, and what they're saying to him, and if the details and external facts of the story don't actually match up with that then, well, that's too bad—but it's also not relevant.

In this case, Bob Woodward seems to have simply trolled himself and a lot of other people, and I'm not really sure what that's about. He claimed the White House threatened him, and this was breathlessly promoted throughout the land, but the actual "threat" in question was an email that, when released, you'd have to be a special kind of strange to perceive as "threatening" in any way. Really:

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.
So much for the myth of hard-nosed, sharp-edged journalists swashbuckling their way through Washington intrigue to bring us much-needed truths. Apparently even the behemoths of the profession are wilting flowers, and language as harsh as the above is enough to send them scurrying to the cameras to complain that somebody has been mean to them.

The Woodward claim (one that he's being disingenuous about, or rather is finessing a bit more than can be reasonably finessed) is that the White House never expected raised revenues as part of the threatened sequester, and apparently the White House vigorously disputing his version of events is supposed to be evidence of just how right he is. By that token, every conspiracy crackpot in America has been vindicated ten times over—but now it's Bob Woodward saying it, so that gets more notice? Is that how we do things?

The entire media establishment seemed to bellow forth as one: Yes, that is how we do things. Woodward made too much of it in a CNN interview devoted to the White House being "not happy" with Woodward's article, an access-based, personality-fueled metastory of the sort that seems to make up what CNN and Wolf Blitzer in particular seem to think is a good enough substitute for actual journalism. Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei ran with it, and seem to have embellished it themselves, declaring it "Woodward at war". We were off and running: The premise was going to be that the mean, mean White House had "threatened" Bob Woodward in an email clearly threatening Woodward with, at most, future embarrassment about the story.

Why? Because at heart, this is a story about access journalism, and there is nothing so dear to access journalism as hearing the brave war tales of those that engage entirely in access journalism. Oh—and because for those on the conservative side of things, the silly non-event was evidence once again of a "Chicago-style" aggression and oppression of the media. Because of that email, up there. Yes, that one.

Let's look at just some of the brave souls who latched on eagerly to the notion of an embattled Bob Woodward facing cruel, vicious treatment at the hands of the White House, apparently not one of them actually having read the email exchange in question (below the fold):

Threats to Bob Woodward for reporting the truth about Obama's sequester...this gang really is bringing Chicago ethics to DC.
@GroverNorquist via TweetDeck
"YOU WILL REGRET DOING THIS"... Bob Woodward: WH threatened me for reporting on sequester trigger - http://t.co/...
@DailyCaller via Buffer
Somewhere in Moscow tonight, Vladimir Putin saw that Bob Woodward was sent a threatening message from the White House...and he smiled.
@DanaPerino via Twitter for iPhone
Lanny Davis said the WH threatened to deny his pres creds. Ron Fournier got the same threat. WH expected media to discredit them.
@DLoesch via TweetDeck
Can you imagine if Karl Rove threatened a reporter? There would be candlelight vigils at the White House gates.
@IngrahamAngle via web
When Bob Woodward is talking to Mike Allen about how the Obama White House is Nixonian, well, that's a moment.
@robertcostaNRO via web
Bob Woodward still rules when taking on the #WhiteHouse. Bob, you rock! http://t.co/...
@TheTinaBeast via web
UPDATE 1:00 p.m.: A “threat” theme has exploded into the newstream today regarding the Woodward story. (WaPo)
Yep, that's how it works. And then who's cheering for who in the fight becomes a story in itself, since isn't it funny when a Glenn Beck staffer or right-wing think tanker praises someone they recently loathed, and what does that say about politics, other than that everyone in it is transparent, and simple-minded, and working the levers by rote?

Really, I think everyone involved should be embarrassed by this story. Woodward himself, certainly, for skipping to the cameras and telling us how very important he his, by virtue of some staffer getting angry with him. The subsequent pushers of the story, so eager to report about it as if Bob Woodward was a brave soul standing up for anything other than Bob Woodward's version of a story. We are facing the supposed "unthinkable" budget measure of sequestration entirely because the very harsh realities of an austerity-imposed "sequestration" are of little significance compared to the tittering among the political class as to who might win or lose by it, so on the eve of actually doing the thing it seems a nice touch to have devolved into a discussion of the bravery of the access journalists valiantly trying to suss that out for us.

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Comment Preferences

    •  yeah, exactly (9+ / 0-)

      he got what he set out to do....get attention.  

      What is the "media" ignoring today, in favor of this pathetic diva?

      It is time to #Occupy Media.

      by lunachickie on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:47:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes Mission to divert GOP frm blame accomplished (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Trix, jedennis, vernonbc

      Woodward's self-insertion into the final week of the sequester debacle is as intentional as a mosquito sucking blood from its victim.

      Woodward has been on a singular mission to radically dismantle the social safety net as we know it. His latest book condemning the President for not closing the 2011 debt ceiling deal by offering up "Entitlements" for sacrifice to the fiscal gods, is particularly vicious. Here's what he said in aCNBC interview in Sept 2012:

      The Fiscal Times (TFT): How did you choose your book’s title, "The Price of Politics"? Is it a reference to the price we’re all going to pay for solutions our political leaders have not yet reached?

      Bob Woodward (BW): There is a price [to pay]. We’re dancing on the sharp edge of a razor blade, as I’ve said before. We could fall off and the result would be calamitous. In the book, if you look at all the things [Tim] Geithner [the Treasury Secretary] was saying in the meetings – that a potential default could trigger a depression worse than the 1930s and that it would be indelible… It’s like virginity. Once you default, you don’t get it back.

      TFT : How does Obama compare in broad terms to other presidents you’ve covered?

      BW: Well, he’s very, very smart. But there’s a “divided man” quality to him. He tells people, “I’m a blue dog. I want fiscal restraint and order.” At the same time, as he told me, “I don’t want to cut entitlements in any way that would hurt vulnerable populations.” So, there isn’t the quality of, “This is how we’re going to do it.” When I was in the Navy in the ‘60s an executive officer had a plaque in his office that said, “He who does not know to which port he is sailing has no favorable wind.” Sometimes it is not clear whether Obama is sailing to the fiscal restraint port – or to the “protect-the-entitlements-at-all-costs” port.

      TFT : Is he strong enough to stand up to the Democratic congressional leadership when he needs to?

      BW: The book shows that he doesn’t control [Sen. Nancy] Pelosi [former Speaker of the House] or [Sen. Harry] Reid [Senate Majority Leader]. They were resistant to cutting any entitlements. I don’t know that he could have gotten their agreement had [Obama and Boehner] reached a deficit-reduction deal – just as it was pretty evident Boehner was going to have trouble with Cantor and the Tea Party Republicans.

      TFT: A week ago Romney criticized the defense sequestration cuts agreed to in last summer’s debt-ceiling deal. Won’t this hurt him, since it goes against what Paul Ryan, his running mate and other GOP leaders agreed to last year?

      BW: I just don’t know. It depends. Congress can do whatever they want, and it depends on how binding the sequestration agreement from the Super Committee is. They could postpone it like lots of these things, like the Bush tax cuts. So the day of reckoning will only be worse, because there will be a day of reckoning… It’s sad for the country that these things weren’t fixed. They weren’t ever going to be fixed completely last year or this year, but at least they were on a path toward some stability. [They were doing] several little things, like increasing the Medicare age from 65, up to, eventually, 66 or 67. You could do that slowly, you could start in 3-5 years or more, but at least it would be saying, “We’re going to do something.” But everything has been postponed that's hard.

      ...[snip]...

      TFT : How are you able to do what you do – to get very high-level political leaders to speak to you, on the record, off the record – for so many years?

      BW: I have the luxury of time. I can get a little something and then go back, and go back again. And I have no politics in this. I’m politically neutral and I want to make sure that people have their say. There’ve been some complaints about other books and this book, that, “Oh, it’s so long, and it’s meetings, and it’s positions that people take” – but I want to make sure that what they've concluded and said and done is fully reflected. And I try to take them as seriously as they take themselves.

      This single minded focus on gutting or restructuring our social safety net has consumed him so much that I believe he felt the need to insert himself into the fiscal narrative this time in order not to let the President go scot free once again on "tackling entitlements".

      By inserting himself in the narrative, he thinks he can accomplish 4 things:

      1. Divert blame away from the Republicans on sequester.

      2. Focus Beltway ire on President Obama, and give comfort to the deficit hawks.

      3. Halt the President's successful change of narrative from deficit mania to Pre-K education, gun violence & infrastructure.

      4. Arrogate Broderite relevance to himself

      "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them." -- Pres. Obama (1/20/2009)

      by zizi on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 05:00:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did he threaten to take Toto away, too? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wary, JML9999, Gemina13, sap

    There is no hell on earth appropriate enough for those who would promote the killing of another person, in the name of a god.

    by HarryParatestis on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:36:02 PM PST

    •  Woodward jumps the shark (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sharman, deep, HarryParatestis

      Woodward might be more credible if he didn't spend so much time talking about how "weak" Obama is and how he wishes the Obama administration knew how to "bash heads and get something done."

      Wasn't it Woodward himself whining a few days ago about how W and Reagan would have never done such a weak thing as to let Congress dictate to them whether there was money to send a ship to the Persian Gulf?

      You can't complain about how weak a president is out of one side of your mouth and claim that he's threatening you out of another.  You just look silly.

      Over at TPM and at the Dish there are stories about how Woodward's story has become a laughingstock, even among conservatives.  And that's just as it should be.

      "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change things, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."-Buckminster Fuller

      by NCJan on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:27:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Every single person (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wary, lgmcp, jds1978, Sybil Liberty, Faito

    will eventually become irrelevant.

    Sad but true.

  •  Classic case of swelled head. (10+ / 0-)

    I suppose fame and power tend to be bad for character.  He was brave, a long time ago.  Now he's acting like a real turd.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:36:25 PM PST

  •  It must be sad (12+ / 0-)

    It must be sad when you realize your best work was 40 years ago.  And you've been trying to play catch-up ever since.  

    This is pathetic.  Woodward should retire with dignity.  

  •  Woodward is a has been. (13+ / 0-)

    Actually, without Bernstein and Ben Bradley he would have been a never was.  He's a Republican mouthpiece as shown by the puff pieces he did on the Shrublette's Whitehouse pieces.  Why do you give him any attention?  He has nothing of interest to say.  He can't live off Watergate forever (at least a real journalist wouldn't).

    You have the right to remain silent. If you waive that right you will be accused of class warfare.

    by spritegeezer on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:38:55 PM PST

  •  My favorite part of this (8+ / 0-)

    was when I came downstairs and turned on the TV and Mika and Morning Joe were defending the guy from the White House, saying that they knew him and what a nice guy he was.

    If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? When I am only for myself, then what am "I"? And if not now, when?

    by betorah on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:40:42 PM PST

  •  The biggest threat to Bob Woodward... (13+ / 0-)

    is posed by Bob Woodward.

  •  The Onion nails it completely: (25+ / 0-)

    "Anonymous Source Informs Bob Woodward He Hasn't Been Relevant in 40 Years."

    From this short, on-the-money piece:

    describing a late-night parking garage rendezvous in which the Washington Post editor was purportedly told to “follow the writing.” “My source assured me that once I read my careless reporting on the Iraq war, my exaggerated interviews, and my exploitative and inaccurate account of the recent sequestration situation, it would be abundantly clear that my influence in the field has substantially waned since Watergate. And he’s right. It’s all true.”

    "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand." ~ Atticus Finch, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

    by SottoVoce on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:43:56 PM PST

  •  And to think.... (7+ / 0-)

    Woodward used to actually be regarded as a journalist. How far the mighty have fallen. From crusader to whiner. Nicely evolved, Bob.

    Thank your stars you're not that way/Turn your back and walk away/Don't even pause and ask them why/Turn around and say 'goodbye'/Just wish them well.....

    by Purple Priestess on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:44:04 PM PST

  •  Somebody... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KayCeSF

    ..explain to me when Bob Woodward moved from loathed hater of freedoms when he destroyed right wing icon Richard Nixon to current darling of the Fixed News hate conglomerate.

    I realize American right wingers lift wet finger to wind in order to learn where their loyalties lie for a given week, but I don't get their school girl crush on the guy who cast Richard Nixon into the trash bin of history.

    I'm worse at what I do best/ And for this gift I feel blessed. - Kurt Cobain

    by wyvern on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:44:07 PM PST

  •  "Is that how we do things?" (0+ / 0-)

    One would hope not.

    But it is certainly how they do things . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:44:46 PM PST

  •  Deep ScapeGoat? nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Faito, randallt, renzo capetti

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:45:47 PM PST

  •  hahaha. Priceless! (6+ / 0-)
    So much for the myth of hard-nosed, sharp-edged journalists swashbuckling their way through Washington intrigue to bring us much-needed truths
    and...
    ...and there is nothing so dear to access journalism as hearing the brave war tales of those that engage entirely in access journalism.

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:46:07 PM PST

  •  reading this from Wemple-blog: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKgirls, sap, deep
    Does that mean the White House won’t be allowing access for the next Bob Woodward book? “I don’t know. I think it’s not sound and mature communications policy,” he says.
    i laughed so hard i nearly fell out of my chair and stress-fractured a rib all-of-a-piece

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:49:06 PM PST

  •  Pathetic nincompoop. (0+ / 0-)

    He's probably compiling a Nixonian Enemies List as we speak.  Whoever owns the rights to All the President's Men should release a Special Edition with Robert Redford replaced by Frank Langella.

    They call it a "free" market because they expect you to work for free.

    by Troubadour on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:50:11 PM PST

  •  Guy goes on Hannity pretty often (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Jim Domenico, Ky DEM, Faito, puakev

    Need I say more? You've got to be a special kind of DBag as a journalist to think you belong hanging with Hannity. The only time a real guest should go on Hannity is to do what Ellison did. But I'm pretty sure I can some up Woodwards complaints about Obama judging from pre election 2008 stuff as such: "That there black boy d-int wait his turn, uppity negro"

  •  Too bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randallt

    Too bad Jack Anderson isn't around to show "journalists" how to do their jobs.  

  •  Bob Woodward: Stenographer to the stars (7+ / 0-)

    Christopher Hitchens' disdain for Woodward and the type of journalism he practiced was far ahead of its time. This is from 1996, but he had been writing this kind of stuff even earlier.

    http://www.salon.com/...

  •  I think Woodward is going to regret this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    royce

    Not to be redundant.

  •  Our "Media" is so full of (3+ / 0-)

    FAIL it's sickening. Not to mention that this particular episode is so completely contrived, A) to give The Corporate something else to beat on the President with and B) to ignore some other real news they don't want to have to talk about instead.

    People need to turn them the fuck off. They are liars and whores, including Bob Woodward.

    See my sig. Sooner or later, it needs to happen. Yes, it does.
    .  

    It is time to #Occupy Media.

    by lunachickie on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:00:32 PM PST

  •  And everybody stopped talking about sequester (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    royce, puakev, deep

    and the pressure dissipated to nothing.  

    MSM is hardcore carrying GOP water on this sequester stuff as well.  Because WH/Dem framing was burying GOP and the MSM couldn't have that.  

    This is why I take glee in across the board numbers falling for all the networks.  They're not honest actors, they have a stake in gumming the works to keep both sides battling because it makes their jobs much easier.  

    If you're not talking about what billionaire hedgefund bankster Peter G. Peterson is up to you're having the wrong conversations.

    by Jacoby Jonze on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:05:58 PM PST

  •  He is SO going to regret this (0+ / 0-)

    He is going to get his tit caught in a big fat wringer.*

    ________

    *Note: Historical background for those under 60 here.

  •  Poor Woodward, he hasn't been this vilified since (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    royce

    when he was trying to take down Nixon.  A lot of people hated him back then too.  Of course back then it was Nixon supporters.  

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:09:02 PM PST

    •  Kind of hard (0+ / 0-)

      to imagine the guy who met with 'Deep Throat' in darkened garages in the wee hours being "threatened" by a polite email from a guy to whom he responded politely.

      But Woodward spends a lot of time on Hannity, and Hannity- people are nothing if not scared out of their wits.

  •  Joan Didion said it best about Woodward. (6+ / 0-)

    She called his work"political pornography."

    Bob Woodward’s book The Choice: How Bill Clinton Won came out in June, 1996, and Didion’s essay was published in The New York Review of Books in September. The essay is not strictly a book review. It is a deconstruction of Woodward himself, and, devastatingly, she uses his words – over and over and over and over again – to make the points she wants to make. You get the sense that Woodward almost made it too easy for her. It is his methodology she wants to criticize, but, on a deeper level, the fact that he seems to resist drawing conclusions from his methodology that she takes issue with. She calls his work “political pornography” and a more brutal assessment of Woodward you probably won’t find.
    *  *  *
    Mr. Woodward’s aversion to engaging the ramifications of what people say to him has been generally understood as an admirable quality, at best a mandarin modesty, at worst a kind of executive big-picture focus, the entirely justifiable oversight of someone with a more important game to play. Yet what we see in The Choice is something more than a matter of an occasional inconsistency left unexplored in the rush of the breaking story, a stray ball or two left unfielded in the heat of the opportunity, as Mr. Woodward describes his role, “to sit with many of the candidates and key players and ask about the questions of the day as the campaign unfolded”. What seems most remarkable in this Woodward book is exactly what seemed remarkable in the previous Woodward books, each of which was presented as the insiders’ inside story and each of which went on to become a number-one bestseller: these are books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent.
  •  knock knock (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    renzo capetti

    Who's There?

    Bob Woodward

    Bob Woodward who?

    Bob...Don't call me paranoid, I can prove it. See how they taunt me by pretending not to know my name..
     Woodward

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:41:19 PM PST

  •  If I were to stretch and give (0+ / 0-)

    Woodward the benefit of a doubt, I would say that at the most, this was a misunderstanding. Emails can come across somewhat what vague, similar to the way sarcasm can sometimes be missed online.

    However, I do think that Woodward is trying to find some relevance, unfortunately by taking the low road.

    The only thing this does is distract us.

    Or else he's just become old and cranky like Clint Eastwood.

    "There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity."
    Robertson Davies

    •  If you read Sperling's complete mail (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pamelabrown, livosh1

      There's no way the email could have been misunderstood. Woodward's own reply says he did not misunderstand Sperling. Here's the exchange:

      From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013

         Bob:

          I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

          But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

          I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

          My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

          Gene

      __

      From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013
       

         Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob  

      "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them." -- Pres. Obama (1/20/2009)

      by zizi on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 05:11:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  duel me with a daffodil,i can take/it! (0+ / 0-)

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:05:01 PM PST

  •  I get the outrage (0+ / 0-)

    This guy brought down Nixon.  And now he wants to bring down a Democrat.

  •  And really (0+ / 0-)

    does anyone under the age of 50 know - or care - who Bob Woodward is?

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