Rumsfeld goes from hero to zero in just three Woodward books.

The thinking behind the news.
Oct. 4 2006 3:33 PM

The Decline of Rumsfeld

From hero to zero in just three Woodward books.

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Woodward never acknowledges changing his mind because he regards himself as a straightforward reporting machine, with no opinions of his own and no axes to grind. He can't say he's revising his judgments because he claims never to have made any. But, of course, Woodward does have a consistent worldview—the conventional wisdom of any given moment. When tout le Beltway viewed Rummy as a commanding hunk, Woodward embodied the adoration. Now that we all know Rummy is a vicious old bastard, Woodward channels the loathing just as fluidly. I'm not holding my breath, but if the war in Iraq takes a turn for the better, Stud Rummy could well return in Woodward's Buns of Brass: Bush at War IV.

What's maddening is the way Woodward reverses his point of view without acknowledging he ever had one—then or now. You could charge him with flattering politicians only when they're up, and piling on when they're down. But you might as well accuse a weathervane of changing its mind about which way the wind should blow.