Woodward is being nice. What he really means is that there were many times that Obama was an empty suit during the debt ceiling negotiations that the president simply failed to lead.
In an interview with ABC's Judy Woodruff, Woodward talked about his new book "The Price of Politics" which covers the debt ceiling crisis from last year.
A few choice tidbits:
Asked if Obama simply wasn't ready for the job of being president, Woodward responded:
"I am not ducking this. I am weighing evidence, and there's evidence that he got on top of a lot of things, he did a lot of things. And there's evidence that there are gaps," he said. "He did not fix this."
Woodward places particular blame for the failure to reach a deal with Obama, writing that the seeds of discord were planted early in his administration. He displayed "two sides" of his personality in early meetings with congressional leaders, Woodward said.
"There's this divided-man quality to President Obama always. Initially he meets with the congressional leaders, he says you know, 'We're going to be accommodating, we're going to listen, we're going to talk, we're going to compromise," Woodward said.
"But then they -- Republicans ask some questions and challenge him a little bit and he says, 'Look I won. I'm in charge here,' " Woodward continued. "And the Republicans feel totally isolated and ostracized. And this was the beginning of a war."
"Divided man quality" is a euphemism for the president saying one thing and doing another.
But with furious negotiations taking place at several levels, Obama had few key personal relationships to draw on among members of either party.
With a sense, according to Woodward, that "no one was running Washington," even Democrats were left grumbling about the president's lack of leadership. And Republicans proved unwilling to bend on the key question of tax revenue.
After the "grand bargain" deal fell apart, congressional leaders pieced together a short-term spending deal to avoid an unprecedented default that could have triggered a worldwide financial crisis.
But they did it without Obama, and over some of his explicit objections, leaving the president angered, Woodward said.
"The president was moaning, groaning, whining, demanding, threatening, and desperate. And wow," Woodward said. "I asked the president about this and he said, 'Well, you know, anyone who knows me, I don't moan and groan and get desperate. But he acknowledges he was very angry."
On the three biggest pieces of legislation passed by Congress during the president's first two years, Obama displayed zero leadership. He farmed out the writing of the stim bill to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He refused to give any guidance to Democrats who were struggling to pull together the Obamacare bill. And he was AWOL on the Dodd-Frank finreg bill.
Sorry Bob. These aren't "gaps" -- it's a chasm.