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It's Not Just A River In Egypt ...

(CBS/The Early Show)
Poor Bob Woodward. This was supposed to be his week, the kickoff campaign to sell his third book on the Bush administration and the Iraq war. Sure, it's gotten plenty of attention already, including a prominent "60 Minutes" profile. But all of a sudden the Woodward book finds itself competing with a congressional scandal. The talking heads will be spending plenty of time arguing about which is likely to hurt Republican election prospects most – damaging revelations contained in Woodward's book about an administration withholding a bleak Iraq situation from the nation or Mark Foley.

It's too bad we're unlikely to spend more time examining the Woodward book and dissecting its conclusions and, more importantly, its methods. In previous works, the Washington Post super-sleuth was hailed by Republicans for making the president and his team appear more serious, competent and intelligent than they are often given credit for. The worm has turned in "State of Denial," however and now the author is locked in a war of words with the administration. Why the dramatic change in tone? Hard to say given Woodward's legendary Watergate style that always has various folks pointing fingers at one another, issuing denials and arguing over accuracy. What's very clear though is that there are agendas at work here. As Slate's John Dickerson puts it:

In the renewed battle between the Bush and Clinton dynasties over who did more to kill Osama Bin Laden, the book offers a damaging account of a meeting between Condi Rice and then-CIA director George Tenet. In July 2001, Tenet rushed over to the White House to make his case in person about the rising threat, but Rice blew him off. Administration officials from Cheney to Rice have been throwing Tenet under a bus recently, blaming him for the faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They recite his line from Woodward's second Bush book, in which he said the case for weapons was a "slam dunk." Presumably, Tenet or his allies are using the third book as payback.
Should we be bothered by this matter-of-fact acceptance of axe-grinding and payback? Should it make us look at the charges made in a book with a little more critical eye? Does it invalidate any of his reporting – either in this effort or his previous books? What do you think?
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