WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 28, 2013 – Pulitzer Prize winning author and columnist Bob Woodward received a half-hour White House telephone tirade just ahead of an op-ed he later published in the Washington Post.
That op-ed would confirm that the idea for sequestration, the automatic spending cuts, originated in and were approved by the White House. A page-long email from that same senior person followed.
“I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the email said. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.” - National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling.
Woodward, a long time Washington insider whose investigative credentials trace back to his exposing the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon, sees it as veiled threat. Liberal media and the White House are blowing off the idea.
But now, Lanny Davis, who served as counsel to former President Bill Clinton and who writes for this paper, is saying that The Washington Times, and editor John Solomon, also received a call from Sperling.
In an interview with DC radio station WMAL, Davis says that he “couldn’t imagine why this call was made,” Davis also characterized that call as a direct threat to The Washington Times:
“He (Sperling) did threaten that if he (Solomon) continued to run my columns, he would lose, or his reporters would lose, their White House credentials.”
Political operatives with ties to the administration with enough distance for plausible deniability are wasting no time in character assassination of the messenger.
Former senior Obama adviser David Plouffe tweeted Wednesday night: “Watching Woodward last 2 days is like imagining my idol Mike Schmidt facing live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.”
Former Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said, “Woodward deserves a lot of credit for taking a macro story about DC dysfunction, competing econ theories & making it all about him.”
Suddenly, the author with 16 non-fiction best sellers and a bucket of Pulitzers for investigative reporting is a narcissistic has-been. Conspicuously absent from the attacks on Woodward is any denial that he got the facts wrong.
Apparently, Obama and staff forgot that Woodward’s latest book, The Price of Politics, published in September, 2012, focuses mostly on the debt-ceiling negotiations during the summer of 2011. More importantly, it named names with specific details about the origins of sequestration.
“The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama declared in his October 22, 2012, debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
Then, President Obama stated just two weeks before the 2012 election that sequestration “will not happen.”
Obama doubled-down on February 19: “Congress didn’t compromise,” “They haven’t come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we’ve got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday.” “There is only one thing wrong with Obama’s words: They are total lies,” wrote Deroy Murdock over at National Review Online.
As Obama painted a worst case scenario to hang around Republican necks if they would not capitulate, the smoking gun went off. Woodward’s book includes this tidbit:
“Obama personally approved of the plan for [White House Chief of Staff Jack] Lew and [White House congressional-relations chief Rob] Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.” “Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid.”
According to Woodward, Lew then sold it to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
“That’s the beauty of a sequester, they said, it’s so ridiculous that no one ever wants it to happen. It was the bomb that no one wanted to drop. It actually would be an action-forcing event.”
Perhaps no one thought sequester could happen because Obama has been steamrolling Republicans since he began his presidency. Or, perhaps, with the liberal media’s continued collaboration, Team Obama assumed sequester would be win-win: If Republicans held out Obama could shift blame to the Republicans on an anemic economy that trillions of dollars in wasted stimulus spending has not cured.
Obama needed to convince America the world is about to end due to Republican stubbornness. DHS is releasing hundreds of jailed illegal immigrants “as a result of fiscal uncertainty.” The Navy announced it has postponed refueling of one of our Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carriers. This will cause a ripple effect in carrier scheduling and deployments.
Obama backed himself into a corner: 18 months after the fact, he now owns sequestration. But, they say an animal is most dangerous when wounded.
That certainly applies to political animals as well.
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