Study Guide

The Agenda

by Bob Woodward

The Agenda Essay - Critical Essays

The Agenda

There are not enough hours in the day for President Clinton: no time for Kennedy-like afternoon dalliances during nap time, no time for Reagan-like holidays at the ranch in Santa Barbara, no time for Truman-like junkets to Key West. Woodward projects a president of deep intellect but one so much concerned about the responsibilities facing him that he drowns in their details.

Clinton’s unwillingness to delegate perhaps bespeaks an inherent distrust of people. It may eventually toll the death knell of an administration that has, admittedly, accomplished a great deal but could accomplish more. Clinton wants to hear every side of every issue he is involved with, yet it is often the side that gets to him last that prevails. This has led a skeptical public and a phalanx of venomous right-wing talk-show hosts to label Clinton wishy-washy.

Further, after promising throughout his campaign to control tax increases, Clinton, largely at Lloyd Bentsen’s prodding, reneged on his promise, often in devious ways, with the excuse of having to control a looming deficit, something most Americans might appreciate had Clinton not promised them tax relief and deficit control. Similarly, the indecisive way he has dealt with the question of gays in the military has made many in that constituency consider him duplicitous.

Woodward calls Hillary Clinton, whose decisiveness and brains he admires, the de facto chief of staff for the administration. Woodward’s portrays the Clinton White House at the end of sixteen months as a White House in disarray, although he cautions that the final tally is not in.