Was Stephen Hadley Woodward's source?

The national security advisor's reply: "It is what it is."

Published November 18, 2005 7:21PM (EST)

The Associated Press is reporting that National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley had some fun with reporters who were asking him whether he had leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Woodward.

On tour in South Korea with President Bush, Hadley, responding to a question asking if he was the source, "said with a smile, 'I've also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources.'"

Is that a yes or a no? the reporters wanted to know.

"It is what it is," he said.

It is what it is? Isn't that a phrase usually used to describe some horrific or embarrassing thing that is so self-evident it needs no belaboring? War Room recalls hearing those exact same words just a few weeks ago, when a hockey player named Todd Bertuzzi was being interviewed on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Bertuzzi is famous in hockey circles for an incredibly vicious sucker punch he delivered to the Colorado Avalanches' Steve Moore in March 2004, breaking his neck and at least three vertebrae. In October 2005, he finally returned for a game at the scene of the crime, where he was endlessly booed by the Colorado fans. Asked repeatedly what it had been like to be on the ice amid so much hate, all Berluzzi could say, three times in a row, was "It is what it is."

Does this prove anything about whether Hadley was Woodward's source? No, of course not. But as an image of the damage done by White House officials to the integrity of government, we think a sucker punch that breaks a neck is right-on. Hey, it is what it is.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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