Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday attacked Bob Woodward and his new expose from the left, worrying that "Speaker Boehner [is] using your book as a sign that voters should turn away from President Obama." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Woodward appeared on ABC to promote The Price of Politics, his new book on the 2011 battle over the debt ceiling. According to Stephanopoulos, Woodward paints a picture of a president who failed to "work [his] will." The former Bill Clinton operative parroted Obama talking points, complaining, "As you know, the White House takes exception to the conclusion" that "the President lacked the stamina to build the relationships he needed to get this done."
He then played a clip of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney mocking, "I'm not sure what magical past people are invoking that they imagine accomplishments were achieved in policy matters at a dinner in Georgetown. It just– it doesn't happen."
After Woodward insisted that "it's quite obvious that Obama has a distance from" Congress, that "[the President] hasn't built the relationships," Stephanopoulos went back into defense mode.
The co-host insisted that "a lot of your critics" have complained, "The President was facing an implacable foe, Republicans on a crusade."
Perhaps leveling the worst attack, in the minds of liberals, Stephanopoulos lamented, "We already see Speaker Boehner using your book as a sign that voters should turn away from President Obama."
A transcript of the September 11 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We are joined now to the man who got the interview you just heard Bob Woodward, the author of the Price of Politics. It goes on sale in bookstores today. And, Bob, thanks for coming in. So, your bottom line is successful presidents, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, largely work their will. But you reach the conclusion that in this case, in this struggle, Barack Obama did not.
BOB WOODWARD: Yes. Simply because our financial house is not in order, in other words-- the big debate last year about the debt ceiling and whether the U.S. government is going to be able to pay its bills. It isn't over. We're going to be right back in that soup in December and January.
WOODWARD: And this isn't a budget issue or a credit rating issue. This is-- is the government going to have its money to pay its bills? And in the end, that's the President's job, yes. It's Congress' job, too. But there's such a thing as presidential leadership.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the White House takes exception to the conclusion. Yesterday, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, was asked about it, your observation, the President lacked the stamina to build the relationships he needed to get this done. Here's what Jay Carney said yesterday.
JAY CARNEY: It's a funny conclusion to reach, given how many hours the President spent with the leaders of Congress of both parties in this these negotiations. I'm not sure what magical past people are invoking that they imagine accomplishments were achieved in policy matters at a dinner in Georgetown. It just– it doesn't happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?
WOODWARD: Look, it's quite obvious that Obama has a distance from these people. He doesn't spend the time. He hasn't built the relationships. And those human relationships matter. You know, it's interesting that it is the anniversary of 9/11 today. And as you may recall, five weeks before 9/11, George Bush received that top-secret briefing, the warning, bin Laden determined to strike in the United States. They didn't do enough. In a sense, this book is a warning document. We're right back in the problem. And this can affect everyone in a very serious way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it. But as you know, a lot of your critics have said, but wait a second. The President was facing an implacable foe, Republicans on a crusade. We already see Speaker Boehner using your book as a sign that voters should turn away from President Obama. So, what should voters take away? We're only 56 days away. You studied this for a couple of years. What do you think voters should take away as they go to the polls.
WOODWARD: They can look at it. People have read it the other way and said, the Republicans are a brick wall, which they are. And it's really hard to get around them. But you know, World War II was hard to win. But President Roosevelt made sure that we won it. And that's what presidents are there for. And it depends on how high you're going to raise the bar and what your level of expectation is. And I think the public should have the highest expectation of their leaders.