In a review of one the first Bob Woodward books on Bush post-9/11, I noted Woodwards "frustratingly iterative quality," adding that "Aside from doubts about the completeness and accuracy of Woodwards narrative, there is ample reason to doubt whether Woodward is an adequate analyst of the unfolding scene." Once you look past the reconstructed conversations and mental states he alleges to have divined, is is clear the man is a lightweight.
Now with his new book that is sure to dominate the news cycles for the next week (that is, when we arent pondering the seemingly hapless quality of Republican House leaders who tolerated Mark Foley in their ranks), all the same problems of Woodwards transcript-by-clarivoyance method come heavily into play. It is a well-known rule in Washington that if you dont cooperate with Woodward on one of his books, you will get pounded in its pages. Bush cooperated with the first two, but not this once. Funny how Woodwards views of the war and Bush track public opinion polls on the matter so closely. A real independent mind--yeah, right.
Over 800,000 copes of Woodwards book are already in print, with more likely to follow. But ask yourself this: It is still possible today, 40 years later, to read David Halberstams The Best and the Brightest for valuable insights into the Vietnam War. Even though Halbertsam and his book have serious flaws, it is a masterpiece of contemporary history and analysis. Will anyone, 40 years from now, read any of Woodwards three books on Bush? Doubtful.