Bob Woodward continued his lecture circuit on how he’s the source of “the best obtainable version of the truth” in politics by demanding Republican nominee Mitt Romney to apologize for his “off the cuff” remarks captured in a leaked video at a private fundraiser in Florida. During his typically soporific interview with Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour, which will air later this week – Woodruff claimed such antics “doesn’t work in journalism, life, or politics.”
Since the NewsHour website only included a fraction of the interview, we don't know if Woodruff asked if Obama looked "unpresidential" and should have apologized in 2008 after telling supporters that many Americans bitterly "cling to guns and religion." Here's how PBS teed up Woodward:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Here we are, five weeks before the election, and the Republican nominee Mitt Romney makes comments about 47 percent of the American people and what they believe and what – they represent – how – does that fit into the picture of someone who wants to be president and what a president’s expected to do.
BOB WOODWARD: You asked the question what’s the president job? And the president job is to establish what the next stage of good is for a majority of people in the country – not one party, not one interest group and developed a plan and do it. And you look at those comments and they’re deeply troubling. Because he is labeling a whole group of people and saying oh they look at themselves at victims. They’re people who will not vote for me and if he turns out to become the President of the United States he’s got to reach out to everyone. He’s got to have a mindset where he understands the struggles of people. The people he was categorizing – I mean there are people on elderly – on Medicare – the health insurance program for the elderly that the federal government provides at great expense – who live on an average of $22,000 a year. Talk about living at the edge. A lot of those people are Republicans. And he kind of swept with his – mouth and his hand – them away.
And that’s out of the trad– outside the boundaries of the tradition of what we expect of a president. Now, hopefully there are big lessons learned by him and that he will – I would expect although he’s standing by this and justifying it – he probably owes an apology to lots of people in this kind of off the cuff labeling of people is – it doesn’t work as we’ve discovered in journalism, it doesn’t work in life, and it doesn’t work in politics.
However, this plays into Woodruff’s continued narrative that compromise and civility have died in politics. He lamented about this last Monday morning on CSPAN’s Washington Journal where he said “…you know if Bob Dole had been the minority leader – the majority leader, I’m sorry – as he was in the 1990s, in the Clinton administration, or Newt Gingrich [was] the Speaker, we would have been able to work this deal out.' Whether that’s the case or not, the president has a very strong argument that there’s less flexibility with the House Republicans now then there was during the Gingrich era.”
You see that again in this interview where he says that what Romney said was “outside the boundaries of the tradition of what we expect of a president.” However, Obama failing to reschedule an intelligence briefing to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser one day after the embassy attacks must be considered within “the boundaries of tradition of what we expect of a president.”