Woodward: 21st Century Talleyrand


Early reports on the new Bob Woodward book, State of Denial, suggest the author has done a 180 from his earlier laudatory accounts of the Bush Administration. Woodward, purportedly, addresses the devastating scope of violence in Iraq, the intrangience of Bush regarding his position there, fierce infighting within the Administration over Iraq policy. None of these things surprise me.

Woodward, in his public comments promoting the new book, will surely say he has not changed, the facts have changed. There will be at least some truth to that.

I have a deeper analysis though. My interpretation of Woodward at this point in his storied journalistic career is that he has become a Washington institution. His work must span Administrations just like that of mid-level bureaucrats who reside in the bowels of the Department of Interior or the IRS. They survive during Republican Administrations, and they survive when Democrats hold sway.

Just as Woodward gravitated to the Bush Administration in the early years when it was on the upswing, so to does he distance himself in the waning years when the president is extremely unpopular.

Of c0urse, Woodward is not a pioneer here. His career arc is starting to resemble that great French diplomat Talleyrand, who became more famous for his skills at political survival than he did for his diplomacy.

The Ultimate Political Survivor 

Talleyrand lived more than 80 years. During that time he did the bidding of King Louis XVI, the Revolutionary National Assembly, the Directory, Napoleon, and King Louis XVIII! So famous was his skill for blowing with the wind that contemporary cartoonists depicted him with six heads, one for each affiliation.

Bob Woodward is well positioned for the post-Bush era.


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