REVIEWSrnIf Nixon Had BeenrnFriends With BobrnWoodwardrnby Arnold BeichmanrnThe Agenda: Inside the ChntonrnWhite Housernby Bob WoodwardrnNew York: Simon & Schuster;rn352 pp., $24.00rnFor starters, I propose to say the unthinkable:rnthe unnamed coauthorsrnwith Bob Woodward of this book arernPresident and Mrs. Clinton. All the insidernstories dealing with the first 18rnmonths of the Clinton administration,rnthe reported dialogue, who said what tornwhom, and the secret memoranda were,rn1 believe, handed to Mr. Woodward byrnthe Clintons, by White House staffrnmembers, or by nonstaff advisors withrnMr. Clinton’s approval. If I am right,rnthen Mr. Woodward is to be honoredrnwith the title of Spinmeister-in-Chief.rnI base my coauthorship theory on thernfollowing clues, which, added together,rnmake my theory more than plausible:rnOne, all the stories in Mr. Woodward’srnbook are pro-Clinton. The chaos, therndisorganization, the indecisiveness, thernrunning around in all directions, thernPresident’s fumbling of issues, beggingrncongressmen for their individual votes,rnnone of this behavior makes Mr. Clintonrnlook bad. It does make Congress lookrnbad, especially Senators Bob Kerry andrnDavid L. Boren, among others. 1 couldrnnot find a single example of anythingrnthat would hurt Mr. Clinton with thernvoters. In fact, most of the “inside” stuffrnshows him to be a fine leader learningrnhow to get around the Beltway, a decentrnchap with a tendency (understandably)rnto flood his monologues with the f-word,rnsmart and tolerant of human imperfectionsrnincluding his own, and, above all, arnPresident who, while always in charge, isrnalways willing to listen.rnTwo, 1 am prepared to swallow allrndoubts about the authenticity of Mr.rnWoodward’s revelations, something I wasrnnot prepared to do when he reportedrnthat he had actually interviewed the dyingrnCIA director William J. Casey. Inrnthe present case, I am prepared to acceptrnMr. Woodward’s report because, whilernhis Deep Throats are prepared to destroyrneach other, they are deeply protective ofrnthe President.rnThree, the book’s story line shows Mr.rnClinton to be a skillful politician whorngot his way with the budget, his economicrnplan, and other domestic mattersrnagainst a recalcitrant Congress, althoughrnfor a while there were “mounting politicalrnembarrassments” due to “side issuesrnsuch as gays in the military.” In otherrnwords, his domestic agenda went well, asrnwe saw most recently with the passage ofrnthe anticrime bill in August. Where therndomestic agenda suffered, as with his attemptrnto install gays in the military, arnwave of the wand and it all disappears.rnMost significantly, on foreign policy issues,rnwhere every day is a group-grope atrnthe White House, there is not a word. Inrnfact, the nine mentions of WarrenrnChristopher have nothing at all to dornwith American foreign policy matters.rnOh yes, the Secretary of State tells SenatorrnBoren that a domestic defeat forrnMr. Clinton would hurt the UnitedrnStates internationally. Obviously, a discussionrnof foreign policy issues wouldrnhave reflected badly on Mr. Clinton. Mr.rnWoodward says that his purpose in writingrnthis book was to report on domesticrneconomic issues. Thus if things wentrnbadly, Congress could be blamed. Butrnon Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti—who else butrnMr. Clinton? It takes an extraordinaryrneffort of will to avoid discussing the foreignrnpolicy of the world’s superpowerrnNumero Uno, especially as that policy affectsrnthe domestic agenda that so concernsrnMr. Woodward—^balance of trade,rnoverseas markets, the value of the Americanrndollar, economic relations withrnJapan, and the G-7.rnFour, so wary is Mr. Woodward aboutrndealing with the administration’s foreignrnpolicy that there is not a single mentionrnof Strobe Talbott, one of Mr. Clinton’srnclosest friends and advisors, whose housernis an occasional home-away-from-homernfor Mr. Clinton. Is it conceivable thatrnwhenever the President and Mr. Talbottrnmet, they only discussed problems inrnChecheniya?rnFive, even more astonishing than Mr.rnWoodward’s shunning any discussion ofrnforeign policy reverses and the minor rolernaccorded Mr. Christopher is that there isrnvirtually no mention of any of the scandalsrn—Whitewater, bimbotics and liaisons,rnthe White House travel office,rnHillary’s personal stock investments,rnWhite House resignations—that havernswirled around the White House for 18rnmonths. There are four mentions of thernVincent Foster “suicide” but nothing arnnewspaper reader did not already know.rnThere is no “inside story” here to explainrnthe removal of Mr. Foster’s WhiternHouse files the night of the tragedy. Mr.rnWoodward or his informants are curiouslyrnreticent about such matters. Thesernevents may not have been on Mr. Clinton’srnagenda, but they surely were domestic.rnSix, Mr. Woodward is the WashingtonrnPost’s assistant managing editor forrninvestigations. “Investigations” from arnWoodwardian view means exposes aboutrnnasty doings in, say, the office of thernChief Executive or among his minions.rnThat used to be the case during the Reaganrnand Bush administrations. Mr.rnWoodward has established a record as arnpolicy prescriber, not merely as a muckraker.rnAs Michael Ledeen has pointedrnout, Mr. Woodward’s past stories showrnhim to be a policy pusher as well as a reporter.rnBut where are those meaty “investigations”rnexposing nefarious crimesrnin the administration today, and* wherernwere they during the time of Mr. Clinton’srnArkansas fiefdom? In Agenda, thernauthor is quite clearly for Mr. Clinton’srnpolicies. Which is entirely understandable,rnbecause why, after all, would thesern250 (Mr. Woodward’s figure) insidernsources be talking with such candor tornthe enemy?rnSeven, at a time when liberal journal-rnDECEMBER 1994/31rnrnrn