Sep 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Woodward and Costa channel Biden aides in new book

George Stephanopoulos interviews Robert Costa and Bob Woodward on Monday.

George Stephanopoulos interviews Robert Costa and Bob Woodward on Monday. Screengrab: ABC

"Peril" — the instant bestseller by Bob Woodward and his Washington Post colleague Robert Costa — grabbed headlines for its Donald Trump reporting. But half the book covers President Biden, with Woodwardian channeling of top advisers' interior monologues:

In a 50-50 Senate, each Democrat was a tall pole in the tent. Everyone was needed. [Chief of staff Ron] Klain recalled that they all thought that life in the Obama White House had been hard with 58 Democratic senators. He fantasized that if Biden had 58 Democrats, as chief of staff Klain would only have to work three days a week. (p. 347-8)

When Biden announced his Afghanistan withdrawal decision in April, he "did not expect to see on television and in the newspapers so much critical commentary," Woodward and Costa write:

Several days after the announcement, [Secretary of State Tony] Blinken and [national security adviser Jake] Sullivan were with the president in the Oval Office. ...
"Mr. President," Blinken said, trying to provide some comfort, "this was an incredibly hard decision." ...
Biden was standing by the Resolute Desk. Blinken could see the president was still carrying the burden of the decision. Presidents lived in the world of the suboptimal. Standing there alone, the president lightly tapped the desk.
"Yeah," Biden said, "the buck really does stop here." (p. 391)

Flashback: Then-Vice President Biden "told others privately in 2009, 'The military doesn't f--- around me,' more than implying they had with Obama." (p. 336)

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