"The president and I have concluded that there's no value in making that ad hominem argument," he told me of Obama. "It gets you nowhere."
"Question a man's judgment, not his motives," Mansfield instructed.
"It's one thing to say: 'I think the proposal on the following is a serious mistake. I think it's gonna do the following damage.' It's another thing to say, 'The guy's a fucking idiot, and he is an egomaniac who's a whatever.' "
"It's like a Rubik's cube trying to figure this guy out," Biden sighed. "We have no freakin' idea what he's gonna do."
"Family has been central for us — that's our baseline," Obama told me. "We both feel freer to do what we think is right because if it doesn't work out, our families will still love us."
He has little patience with Democrats who want to move either left or right. " 'We gotta move to the center,' 'We gotta move to those white guys,' 'We gotta move to those working-class people' or 'We gotta double down on the social agenda.' " It's a false choice, he said: "They are totally compatible. I have never said anything to the A.C.L.U. that I wouldn't say to the Chamber of Commerce."