As if we needed Woodward to tell us the obvious.
An explosive mix of dysfunction, miscommunication, and misunderstandings inside and outside the White House led to the collapse of a historic spending and debt deal that Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were on the verge of reaching last summer, according to revelations in author Bob Woodward’s latest book.
The book, “The Price of Politics,” on sale Sept. 11, 2012, shows how close the president and the House speaker were to defying Washington odds and establishing a spending framework that included both new revenues and major changes to long-sacred entitlement programs. “The Price of Politics” examines the struggles between Obama and the Congress for the three and a half years, between 2009 and the summer of 2012. It offers exclusive behind the scenes access to what the President and the Republicans did, or rather failed to do.
But at one critical juncture, with an agreement tantalizingly close, Obama pressed Boehner for additional taxes as part of a final deal — a miscalculation, in retrospect, given how far the House speaker felt he’d already gone.
The president called three times to speak with Boehner about his latest offer, according to Woodward. But the speaker didn’t return the president’s phone call for most of an agonizing day, in what Woodward calls a “monumental communications lapse” between two of the most powerful men in the country.
When Boehner finally did call back, he jettisoned the entire deal. Obama lost his famous cool, according to Woodward, with a “flash of pure fury” coming from the president; one staffer in the room said Obama gripped the phone so tightly he thought he would break it.
“He was spewing coals,” Boehner told Woodward, in what is described as a borderline “presidential tirade.”
From the WaPo:
In Woodward’s account, the balance of power has shifted at least temporarily back to the legislative branch during the past two years, aided by the Obama administration’s failure to nurture the alliances that it needed to offset the GOP’s huge victory in the 2010 midterm elections. The Republicans took control of the House, claiming 63 new seats, the largest turnover since the 1930s.
The book points out that the administration seemed unprepared for the road ahead, as demonstrated on election night in 2010. “Protocol dictated that the president make a congratulatory call to Boehner,” Woodward writes. “The trouble was, nobody in the White House had thought to get a phone number.”
……Woodward recounts an episode early in his presidency when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were hammering out final details of the stimulus bill.
Obama phoned in to deliver a “high-minded message,” he writes. Obama went on so long that Pelosi “reached over and pressed the mute button on her phone,” so they could continue to work without the president hearing that they weren’t paying attention.
More hilarity and drama to follow as the book is revealed chapter by chapter.
- Bob Woodward Book’s Juiciest Bits (thedailybeast.com)