Author of “Fight of His Life” discusses Afghanistan, Kamala Harris’s progress, and a successful second year. and whether Biden plans to run again
Some people think Joe Biden is too elderly to run for president a second time at the age of 80. However, few demand that he give the position to the person who would typically be the heir apparent.
Review of Joe Biden’s victory in the White House in The Fight of His Life
The first woman of colour to hold the vice-presidency, Kamala Harris, has seen ups and downs during the past two years. She has found her voice as an advocate for abortion rights and her relationship with Biden appears to be solid. However, her office has been in turmoil, and her media appearances haven’t made an impression.
As Whipple notes, Joe Biden initially enjoyed having Kamala Harris around and frequently requested the vice president’s attendance at meetings. A “synergy” between them was noted by one source.
Harris offered his assistance in advancing the cause of voting rights. But Biden gave her another: working with the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to address the root causes of undocumented immigration.
The Northern Triangle would turn out to be radioactive, according to Whipple.
As immigrants continued to arrive, Harris received the blame because the public quickly lost sight of the difference between core causes and current difficulties.
Whipple is told by one of her senior aides that the media would not accept a vice president who was not just black and south Asian but also female and would fit into the “the unicorn in a glass box” paradigm. Harris, however, also sustained self-inflicted injuries. She “seemed uneasy and uncertain,” according to Whipple, and “she cut the air with her hands and inappropriately chuckled, which made her sound condescending.”
Biden and Harris genuinely clicked and were close. They were thrown together at the White House as a result of Covid.
Whipple notes that Harris was still well regarded by Biden and his staff despite this.
“[The chief of staff] Ron Klain liked her a much. He urged the vice president to conduct more interviews and build her profile during their weekly meetings. Harris hesitated and was cautious of making mistakes.
“Klain remarked, ‘This is like baseball,’ to her. You have to accept the possibility of getting out at times. We all get out at bat. But if you’re in the dugout, you can’t score runs. The chief of Biden was emulating manager Tom Hanks from the movie A League of Their Own. Look, you won’t offend anyone in this room. You need to be there.
Whipple, 69, reflects to the Guardian: “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a convoluted, fascinating connection.
“In the first few weeks of the administration, they got along well and formed a strong friendship. They spent a lot of time together in the White House after being thrown together by Covid. He appreciated her opinion and wanted her to attend practically all meetings. All of that was true and still is.
“But things got more tricky when she started to face backlash, particularly over her assignment on the Northern Triangle. The second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, was heard by the president arguing that her portfolio was too challenging and was, in fact, setting her up for failure. This irked Biden a lot. He thought that by giving her the Northern Triangle as one of his duties, he hadn’t asked her to do anything that he hadn’t already done for Barack Obama. He granted her the voting rights portfolio when she asked for it. Therefore, there was some conflict.
According to Whipple
Biden was asked about his vice president by a close friend a few months into his presidency. “A work in progress,” he replied. The title of one chapter of Whipple’s book is comprised of these four words, which are a less-than-stellar recommendation.
But Whipple continues in our conversation: “It’s also true that she improved in terms of her knowledge of national security. On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden sent her to the Munich Security Conference for that reason. She devoted a lot of time to discussing the president’s daily brief in meetings, and Biden gave her some crucial tasks in that regard.
Whipple, a former producer for CBS’s 60 Minutes, has authored books about the directors of the CIA and the chiefs of staff for the White House. Each book spanned more than a century of history, but creating The Fight of His Life, in contrast, was like constructing a jet while it was in flight and not knowing where to land it, according to the author. How come he did it?
Whipple Chris David Hume Kennerly’s picture
How was I to resist? Consider the fact that when Joe Biden and his administration took office, they had to deal with a pandemic that occurred only once every century, a damaged economy, racial injustice, and the fallout from the attack on the Capitol. How could anyone with even the slightest political or narrative inclination not want to share that tale? Particularly if you were able to gain access to Biden’s inner circle, which I was lucky to be able to accomplish.
However, it wasn’t simple. One of the leak-proof White Houses in recent memory, according to Whipple exceedingly well-behaved and disciplined. It couldn’t be more dissimilar than the controversies that hit the Trump administration all at once, everywhere.
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The author discovered a story of two presidencies. Inflation, supply-chain issues, an arguably premature claim of triumph over the coronavirus, and setbacks in Congress regarding Build Back Better and other measures plagued the first year. The sad conclusion of America’s longest war, which cost $2 trillion over 20 years, was made much worse by the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan.
According to Whipple, “there was certainly a failure to carry out the withdrawal in a secure and orderly manner and, at the end of the day, it was a whole-of-government failure.” “Almost everyone got it wrong, starting with the intelligence on how long the Afghan government and armed forces would survive and finishing with the botched execution of the withdrawal, with too few troops on the ground.
Whipple may be the first author to speak with Klain, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, CIA Director Bill Burns, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on the disastrous Afghanistan campaign.
A failure of the entire government was Afghanistan. Everyone erred on practically every point.
It became evident that each person’s memory of the intelligence was unique. Although this government frequently appears to be on the same page, he claims that there was a lot more drama going on behind the scenes during the pullout from Afghanistan and in some of the immediate aftermath.
Whipple observes: “Given his friendship with Panetta, I find it remarkable and fascinating that Ron Klain decided to retaliate in this case. It’s obvious that Ron Klain was offended by his critique.
The situation was different in Biden’s second year. “On February 24, 2022, when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, everything changed. Joe Biden was particularly suited to step up in that situation, and he did so by inspiring NATO to stand up to Putin and defend Ukraine. With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his interactions with Putin, Biden had spent his entire career preparing for that moment, and it was evident.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which I don’t think anyone anticipated, was the culmination of a series of bipartisan legislative bills that he later passed, starting with the Chips Act and ending with veterans healthcare.
One thing is certain: Joe Biden has been consistently underrated since day one, and at the halfway point of his term, he shows that he was capable of much more than was initially believed.
With the wind at his back, Biden appeared ready to start his third term. Biden’s approval rating is rising, inflation is dropping, Democrats outperformed predictions in the midterm elections, and the dysfunctional House Republicans had trouble choosing a speaker.
Biden’s inner circle has high hopes for his intelligence and leadership skills. They never expressed any worries to me, but political life moves quite quickly. A special counsel was appointed by the justice department last week to look into the finding of secret records from Biden’s stint as vice president at his Delaware home and Washington-based think tank.
“They really need to step up their game here, in my opinion, because this really gets to the heart of Joe Biden’s greatest strength, which is trust,” Whipple said CBS.
The error serves as a speed bump leading up to 2024. Another factor could be Biden’s age. If he serves out the entirety of his second term, he will be 86 years old, making him older than Ronald Reagan was when he finished his second term. According to opinion surveys, many people believe he is too old for the position. Allies of Biden disagree.
This week in Washington, Joe Biden delivered a speech at the National Action Network’s MLK Jr. Day breakfast.
This week in Washington, Joe Biden delivered a speech at the National Action Network’s MLK Jr. Day breakfast. Michael Brochstein/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock
According to Whipple, “His inner circle is upbeat about Biden’s mental sharpness and his capacity to lead. Perhaps it is reasonable to expect that from the inner group, but I never heard any of them express worry. Many of them will attest to his incredible energy and endurance.
“Bruce Reed [a seasoned advisor] told me about taking a red-eye flight from Europe following four consecutive meetings, when everyone had to be dragged from the plane and was urgently trying to sleep, and the boss came in and told stories for six hours straight all the way back to DC.