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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Woodward's Political Porn

I've been reading Bob Woodward's Shadow the last few days and it's very good, much better than the other books of his I've read. What's so fun about it is the juicy details Woodward reveals.

For instance, Woodward abslutely takes a crap on the Ford presidency. Not only does he make a big deal out of how the secretary of defense ignored direct orders from Ford, but also Woodward describes Ford's penchant for having a few martinis with lunch, a custom he supposedly picked up while serving in the House of Representatives. As president, though, boozing at noontime wouldn't cut it: Woodward recounts one luncheon speech Ford gave in which he ended up saying nuclear deterrence as "insurance." Advisors actually had to confront Ford about not drinking during the daytime! I would've thought this was a pretty basic rule for someone who is serving as leader of the free world. For some reason I never learned about all of this in the one college class I took that covered the Ford presidency. Perhaps that's because the professor was... a former aide to Gerald Ford.

In my reading I've also learned that the first ever investigation under the Independent Counsel statute was into whether Jimmy Carter's chief of staff snorted cocaine in the basement of Studio 54. Even in the rather dry detail of Iran-contra, Woodward throws in some good stuff about Nancy Reagan's astrology obsession and White House staffers' fears that Reagan was growing senile. I imagine the Clinton section will be pretty damning once I get there since no one is coming out looking that good so far.