Kathryn – I’ve thought about that a lot too. It seems to me that Woodward is the greatest of all possible positions, he’s an institution larger than the president. Here’s how I see it. Everyone in Washington knows Woodward’s going to write the book and the book will get huge publicity. Moreover, everyone believes that Woodward screws those who don’t give him access and quotes. So if you look at it like game theory, what choice does the president really have? He can either help Woodward and hence encourage more favorable treatment in the book — both as a quid pro quo, but also because Bush gets to actually have his say — or he can snub Woodward at which point the author has ever incentive and few other choices but to lean more heavily on those who speak negatively about the President.
I haven’t followed the Kremlinology of all this that closely, but it seems to me that Bush is actually getting some good news out of this. It sounds like Bush has put a lot of the “blame” on Tenet (WMDs are a “slam dunk” indeed) and clarified that Cheney and Rumsfeld were not calling the shots. There’s no way Woodward would have written that if Bush hadn’t cooperated.