Too Soon to Judge Obama

Washington Post's Woodward counsels withholding judgement

On the second day of the Pershing InSite conference on June 4 in south Florida, Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward, he of Watergate fame and multiple books on the accomplishments and foibles of sitting Presidents, suggested that it was far too early, after 134 days of an Obama Administration, to judge the effectiveness of the current leader of the free world. After all, Woodward said, if you had told President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 after his first 100 days in office that the biggest event in his Presidency would be Vietnam, "LBJ would have said you were drunk." So too with Clinton and his impeachment, and George W. Bush with his two unfinished wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though he did compliment former President Bush with his willingness to spend three-and-a-half hours in the waning days of his Presidency to answer 500 questions from Woodward over the decisions that led up to the Iraq war.

In looking at the current state of affairs, Woodward quoted Senator Barry Goldwater, who in his 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative lamented that the federal government was then "the largest lender, debtor, owner, and manager" in the United States. Nearly 50 years later, Woodward joked only half in jest, "you might well think that the federal government is the only lender, debtor, owner, and manager," but he cautioned against making too broad comparisons between the current recession and the Great Depression, recalling that during the 1930s, the government itself "hired 60% of the unemployed" through government programs like the Works Progress Administration.

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