Today on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Bob Woodward blasted President Obama's "madness" for letting budget considerations influence military policy, continuing to stumble through his transition from Bush turncoat to Obama hater. It's the latest attack from the Washington Post reporter, following a column late last week charging that the massive cuts from the imminent sequestration are the president's fault — a charge the administration labelled "willfully wrong."
Today's skirmish stems from an announcement by the Navy earlier this month that the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman wouldn't deploy to the Persian Gulf, citing imminent NBC News notes, the Navy is slated to lose $4 billion by fall due to the cuts, on top of operating at a $4.6 billion deficit due to Congress' failure to enact a new budget for 2013.
Presumably after having crunched the numbers, Woodward disagrees with that decision.
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Woodward said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document?” Woodward added. “Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Bush indeed never said, "You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need." As the Bush administration's primary historian, Woodward should know that Bush's attitude was quite the opposite.
At a 2004 town hall meeting in Kuwait, a soldier asked then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?" Why, in other words, don't we have the resources we need? Rumsfeld's famous reply:
As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
The exchange occurred shortly after Woodward's laudatory 2004 book Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq, but well before 2007's heavily critical State of Denial. The latter book seemed to complete Woodward's transition away from being a Bush hagiographer, documenting the "detailed, behind-the-scenes story of how the Bush administration failed to tell the truth about the Iraq War." Perhaps today's comments indicate that the pendulum is swinging back.
Over the weekend, Woodward described how he saw Obama's pick of Chuck Hagel to lead the department of defense.
[Obama and Hagel's shared] worldview is part hawk and part dove. It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush. It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq war unnecessary. War is an option, but very much a last resort.
So, this thinking goes, the U.S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back -- this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided.
Apparently Woodward meant those lines as a critique.