February 25 2013
One of the most intriguing spectacles just now is the hostile reaction in some circles to Bob Woodward’s reporting on the looming sequester.
The Watergate icon's claim that the Obama White House "owns" the sequester hasn't gone over well with elements of the press.
The White House has presented the sequester as a catastrophe waiting to happen that can be laid at the feet of the GOP.
Slate’s David Weigel writes that Woodward has “been banging the tables of various talk shows for weeks, making the same fairly banal point.”
The “banal point”—which is actually a pretty important point—is that the White House owns the sequester. Weigel writes:
Watching Woodward in action has been disconcerting for the many reporters who covered the story in real time. Did the White House float sequestration as a "trigger" to force a better, later deal from Congress? Yes. Would this have ever become an issue if Republicans hadn't chosen to hogtie the debt limit and hold a sixgun to its head for six months? No. So who cares?
The White House did considerably more than “float” sequestration, which was written into legislation!
Ezra Klein of the Washington Post also faults Woodward and sticks up for the White House. CBS takes pains to point out that Woodward’s reporting “does not absolve the GOP of blame.” The network goes on to say that “everybody’s hands are dirty.”
Woodward hails from a day when the press, overwhelmingly liberal, still felt it a duty to report. If you watch a White House press conference nowadays, you come away with the uneasy feeling that reporters have forgotten how to ask hard questions.
What I find so fascinating is that apparently even Woodward, whose reporting toppled a Republican president, is not supposed to question the Obama administration.
It will be interesting to see how the blame game shakes out if the sequester goes into effect.
Meanwhile, the good news is that the sequester likely won’t be nearly as awful as the White House is claiming (unless the chief executive, who has a great deal of control over how the sequester will be put into effect, makes it that bad). And it will trim some spending.
George Will has the final word on this apparently trumped up crisis:
Even during this desultory economic recovery, one industry thrives — the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying “Wolf!” about spending cuts under the sequester. He is actually crying “Hamster!”…
Today, while Obama prepares a governmental power grab to combat global warming, sensible Americans, tuckered out with apocalypse fatigue, are yawning through the catastrophe du jour, the sequester. They say: Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the hamsters of sequestration.