Bob Woodward, Obama Aide Spar, Causing Confusion Over Definition Of 'Regret'

And Now It's Not Clear That Bob Woodward Understands What 'Regret' Means

The hilarious sideline story to this week's coming season finale of "Sequestration: The Musical" continues to be the whole Bob Woodwardämmerung B-plot, which began with his Jack-Lew-invented-the-sequester scooplet and has since spiraled into nonsense.

Earlier today, Woodward decided to go on cable television and insist that President Barack Obama could easily thwart the coming sequestration devastation by simply overriding the commonly held principles of constitutional governance and just flat-out ignore a law that Congress passed and which he signed. Tonight, that little bit of derangement is followed up by a "Behind The Curtain" scooplet from Politico, revealing that an "Obama aide" totally yelled at him that one time, subsequently re-contacted Woodward to apologize, whereupon Woodward miscontrued that apology into some sort of weird Gangland fantasia.

Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about -- and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward told us in an hour-long interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets.

Yes, we can only imagine that the "Obama aide" might raise his voice at Woodward once he'd heard Woodward's underlying claim about Obama "moving the goalposts," which was embarrassingly mis-premised and which Brian Beutler, among others, shredded into confetti. "They're all going to laugh at you!" we imagine this Obama aide might have yelled.

Nevertheless, the same aide apparently sent along an email, apologizing for his outburst. In that email, the aide wrote: “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. ... You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Somehow, Woodward misread genuine concern for his journalistic reputation for something darker and weirder:

Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. "‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

Reached for comment, a White House official told The Huffington Post: "Of course no threat was intended. As Mr. Woodward noted, the email from the aide was sent to apologize for voices being raised in their previous conversation. The note suggested that Mr. Woodward would regret the observation he made regarding the sequester because that observation was inaccurate, nothing more. And Mr. Woodward responded to this aide's email in a friendly manner."

Still, this all raises a question: when Bob Woodward reads emails from the White House, do the words in his head sound like they're being spoken aloud by Edward G. Robinson in the Bugs Bunny cartoons?

[UPDATE: Ben Smith and Josh Marshall say the "Obama aide" in question is Gene Sperling. Sperling is the 54-year old lawyer and economic adviser, who is currently serving as the Director of the National Economic Council, and has hitherto never been known as anyone a normal human adult would have any reason to feel physically threatened by.]

Sabrina Siddiqui contributed reporting.

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