Bob Woodward: ‘Who is Barack Obama?


Washington Post reporter and author Bob Woodward said Wednesday morning that the fiscal cliff talks are like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

“It’s Groundhog Day: The question is, who’s playing Bill Murray?” he told POLITICO’s Mike Allen at Playbook Breakfast Wednesday morning. “It’s such a repetition: It’s the same players, at the same seats, at the same table.”


Who is Barack Obama?

Woodward: Washington playing chicken with fiscal cliff talks

He said that it’s still too early to tell how the negotiations between President Barack Obama and Congress — specifically, House Speaker John Boehner — will turn out.

(Also on POLITICO: Right ballistic over Boehner 'purge')

“I think anyone who thinks they know is wrong,” he said.

Woodward also spoke about his impressions of Obama, calling the president a figure surrounded by “mystery.”

When asked what he’d most like to know about Obama, Woodward said he knows the president keeps a diary and that he’d like to read it.

“What’s driving him? Who is Barack Obama?” he said. “A description of that inner life will be something if it’s candid.”

(Also on POLITICO: Woodward: Obama didn't fix economy)

Woodward said that, especially compared to former President George W. Bush, Obama keeps his thoughts and intentions more to himself.

“There wasn’t a lot of mystery about how Bush felt: He was a gut player and, as he said, it was his job to put some calcium in the spine,” he said. “But I think Obama is a little bit more of an uncertain figure, and quite frankly, I think when he writes his own autobiography about his time as president, and there is more excavation of all this, we’re going to discover that he’s working it out as he plays the game.”

Woodward also wondered how Obama truly felt about his 2012 Republican rival — Mitt Romney.

“What does Obama think of Mitt Romney — what does he really think? I think he feels that Romney is incompetent because he didn’t run a better campaign.”

As for the brinksmanship currently going on with Congress, Woodward criticized the fiscal cliff process as a “giant mistake.”

“It’s no way to govern,” he said. “It is a giant mistake to have all of this in a pool of ambiguity … it truly is a stalemate.”

The veteran Washington journalist added that regardless of what happens with the negotiations, Obama will ultimately take responsibility for any resulting economic fallout.

“This is the Obama era, it is [the president’s] economy,” he said. “Speaker Boehner’s an important player and this is significant, but it is Obama’s job to lead and define — so if there negative consequences here, particularly in the economy, it is going to be, ‘In the Obama era, things didn’t get fixed.’”

Woodward also spoke about how covering the presidency has become more difficult since he began reporting.

”I think it’s more difficult because the message managers are better, they have staffs and they work at it aggressively,” he said. “And I’m older and I have less energy,” he joked.

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Brophy Thursday 06 December 2012 - 01:47 am | | Brophy Blog
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