Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Chavez: Holding the President's Men Accountable

By Linda Chavez

When one of Washington's most distinguished journalists -- Bob Woodward -- accuses the White House of rewriting history, even liberals should take note. And when the White House responds by threatening him, you would think the story would become a national scandal. What makes the story even more important is that it deals with an issue that has dominated the news in recent weeks: the Draconian budget cuts that will take effect on March 1 unless a last-minute deal is reached in Congress.

Woodward has accused the White House of misrepresenting the president's role in creating the plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget over the next decade. In his book "The Price of Politics," Woodward describes in detail how the idea for the sequester came about. Writing in The Washington Post on Feb. 22, Woodward said that "the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of (then Office of Management and Budget Director Jack) Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors -- probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government." Woodward not only names the individuals involved, but also gives exact timelines for when the discussions took place and how the final agreement came about.

Woodward's complaint is not only that the White House is trying to place sole responsibility for coming up with the idea of the automatic cuts on Republicans, but also that it has now demanded that Republicans accept tax increases as a part of any deal, which was explicitly rejected when the deal was cut. "So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made," he says.

Careful reporter that he is, Woodward phoned Gene Sperling, chief economic adviser to the president, before the article was to be published to get his version of events. But the phone call didn't go well, according to Woodward. Sperling reportedly yelled at him for most of the conversation and then followed up with an email apologizing for raising his voice but also doing something far worse. The email, reprinted in Politico this week, shows Sperling threatening Woodward.

"I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying ... that Potus (president of the United States) asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."

Such ominous remarks coming from the president's economic adviser are meant to intimidate. Reporters -- even one as famous as Woodward -- need access to pursue stories. And if a top White House official lets it be known that a reporter is persona non grata in the White House, the message goes out to others not to talk.

Worse, it is an example of this White House's imperious style -- one that hearkens back to another presidency with which Bob Woodward is all too familiar.

Woodward became a national figure as a young man reporting on the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. Woodward's bestselling book, "All the President's Men," is a chilling account of what happens when the people surrounding the president decide that protecting their boss is more important than upholding the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, which each of them takes.

In the case of the Nixon White House, the corruption emanated from the Oval Office. Woodward is not accusing President Obama of directing his men (and they are mostly men) to try to squelch legitimate journalistic inquiry -- but if the president is not at fault, he has an obligation to clear the record. And Obama is doing just the opposite.

In the days leading up to the automatic cuts, the president has been out campaigning against Republicans, laying on their shoulders full blame for failing to reach a deal. But it is the president who has rewritten the terms of the agreement reached in 2011.

Sperling's threat against a senior journalist was not made in a vacuum: It is an attempt to cover up the president's own dissembling. The only cure is for the president to admit his misstatements and hold accountable those who would flaunt their power to keep the truth from emerging.


Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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  1. bowieknife5Comment by bowieknife5
    March 2, 2013 @ 4:23 am

    Thank you Linda Chavez for this excellent commentary! I am reminded of the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty and the fact that “All the king’s men, and all the king’s horses could not put Humpty back together again.” The imperious connection between this simple rhyme and Obama and henchmen is self evident: The more lies the POTUS and his staff tell, the more complicated it gets for him to remember which lie he told last. Or, at the very least, the more difficult it is for him to select whether he should tell an outright lie, or whether he should regale the masses with one more pitiful sob story about how the Republicans are the inevitable bad guys.

    Methinks the U.S. Emperor’s new clothes stink to high heaven!

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    • susieqComment by susieq
      March 2, 2013 @ 7:19 am

      Give that man a cigar and a raise! Finally someone who is standing up for the arrogant atrocity in the White House who calls himself Prez.

      I pray more and more folks like him start to stand down the current administration for the rogue that Obama is…it does have a trickle down effect…Ben Carson and others…let your observations be your weapons of defense or as Dragnet used to say “Just the facts Mame, just the facts!”

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  2. RPComment by RP
    March 2, 2013 @ 5:42 am

    I would love to see Obama impeached and arrested for his numerous crimes. He has been protected by liberals in every way possible and he thinks he can get by with what he is doing. Yet this man cries that the press has a vendetta against him. If he were a Republican, he would have never been elected the first time. The press would have hounded him over his not being qualified to be president.

    Now to have threatened an icon of the left to keep his mouth shut; I think they went a little too far. It’s ok when they try to hush the conservative voices; but to attack one of their own icons, that I think means trouble. Maybe if there is an impeachment trial, the document forgeries to get Obama in office can be brought forth too.

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    • fedupwithbadgovComment by fedupwithbadgov
      March 2, 2013 @ 10:53 am

      A successful impeachment of Obama would mean that Biden would take the office. Biden is Obama’s best insurance policy to prevent this as an option. I doubt anyone would want to see Biden with his finger on the proverbial “button” in OUR Whate House. About the only thing we can do is elect Congressional representatives that will REPRESENT their constituency and block all attempts to allow OUR Constitution to be violated by special interest agendas.

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    • bf39Comment by bf39
      March 2, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

      The Woodward incident may be the first in a step toward impeachment!

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  3. jkgould0607389Comment by jkgould0607389
    March 2, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    I live in Chicago……that’s how it is done Threats…Intimidation…..and Blackmail! Those are the tools the liberals use. They have perfected it….they are pro’s at these tactics!

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  4. bna42Comment by bna42
    March 2, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    “Woodward said that “the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of (then Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew) and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors”

    Yet the Democrat Senate ignored this and quickly confirmed Jack Lew to his new job before the sequester deadline arrived.

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  5. vevaComment by veva
    March 2, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the news about Woodard’s “heads up” report. It shows he is still a good journalist! May the example challenge others to respect the roles they play.
    Obama knows the press supports his every word. They don’t have a vendetta against him. To say they do, is a LIE. It is in-line with what he does all of the time – LIE.
    “Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!
    Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
    Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)”.
    The strands of Obama’s web are beginning to untangle!

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  6. wallybluComment by wallyblu
    March 2, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

    President Obama proposed the sequester and in the spirit of bi-partisanship the Republicans gave it to him.

    What’s he complaining about?

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  7. thebuckdudeComment by thebuckdude
    March 2, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

    OH how far the lying and the mighty shall fall.
    NBC(MSNBC) just dropped to 5th place in viewership, with several other mainstream media on their way down, which their revenue rate for commercials will drop. Now the Prez and his minion’s, including congress, are starting their descent as well.
    All for the entire nation and world to see. We might even see someone in Wa-DC with enough morals to investigate the Al Jezeerra-Al Gore corporate merger sham to further “transform” America. That may be asking too much, however you just never know….

    Thank God ‘ol Al Gore invented the internet. Otherwise, those of us who have thirsted and searched for the truth, might not have been able to find it.
    And by the way, the good ol boys & girls in Congress are busy right now trying to figure out a way to NOT get as much access to it as we now enjoy.

    Who do you suppose took the muzzle off Maxine Waters this week?
    Keeps me wondering how most of these people ever got elected in the first place. And keeps me wondering how they continue to keep getting re-elected in the second place….

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  8. jrherboldComment by jrherbold
    March 2, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    when is someone going to have the gutsw enough to start impeachment proceedings against this traitor???

    He is systematically destroying this country — he smiles while he lies to the american public.

    the president is supposed to be an example for our younger children — he is an example of what not to be !


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  9. JDZComment by JDZ
    March 3, 2013 @ 5:55 am

    I was watching the interview this AM of Chris Wallace with Mitt and Ann Romney and what a couple they are as, to me, they are as close to the perfect role models for American families that everyone should set their sights to strive for in their lives. Yes, they are wealthy, but they earned it the hard way as Mitt gave his inheritance from his father to charity and used his education and willingness to work hard to achieve his successes in business. The Obama campaign failed to find anything about Mitt’s personal life to use against him other then he took the family dog on a vacation trip in its transport cage strapped to the roof of their SUV. The Romney’s are childhood sweethearts that have been through challenges in their relationship like Ann’s breast cancer and MS but it is obvious that they are still very much in love. Ann basically took Mitt’s loss in the election harder then Mitt as her confidence and respect for Mitt and how his talent and proven leadership skills are seldom offered and available as a candidate for President. She knows that the country made a huge mistake by not electing Mitt and giving Obama a second term after the dismal failure of his first term.

    I continue to look at the polarization and dysfunction the Obama administration is bringing to our government and country and think about where we could be under a Romney administration and it actually makes me sad. Mitt was the perfect choice to get our economy jump started and creating the millions of jobs needed to expand out tax base and generate revenue for our bankrupted government. He would have also led a badly needed top down restructuring of our bloated federal government for the first time in decades, if ever.

    I can at least dream about what could have been.

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