Esma Okutan, Contributing Photographer

Award-winning journalist Chris Whipple characterized Biden’s presidency as a “political thriller in three acts” at his talk on Feb. 8.

The conversation was hosted by International Security Studies at Horchow Hall and moderated by Ted Wittenstein, lecturer in Global Affairs and executive director of International Security Studies. The event focused on Whipple’s recently published book “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House” in which he evaluated Biden’s presidency and chronicled various challenges faced by the administration. Whipple divided his book into three main parts to discuss, which he explained reflected different stages of Biden’s time in office. 

“The first act was the transition from Trump to Biden, a peaceful transfer of power that almost did not happen,” Whipple said at the event. “The second act of this presidency was his first year which was overshadowed by the tragic evacuation from Afghanistan that triggered a long slide in Biden’s approval rating … The third act began with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Biden rising to meet that moment, rallying NATO and the West.” 

Whipple evaluated the presidency from a foreign policy perspective, outlining Biden’s approach to Afghanistan, autocratic nations around the world and the war in Ukraine. He explained that defeating Putin is “existential” for the US, the West and Biden in particular, as the war presents a manifestation of the global conflict between democracy and authoritarianism.

Whipple also touched on domestic issues that the Biden administration had to deal with, including the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crises and threats to democracy, characterizing them as “defining tests of the presidency.” 

“You are no doubt familiar with this often overused saying in Washington that ‘personnel is policy,’” Wittenstein asked Whipple. “Who are the people that the president trusts the most on national security and foreign policy?… How do they view the world and how does that inform the president’s decisions?”

Whipple talked about his observations of Biden and his national security team, recalling his past interviews with White House officials. He emphasized the strong bond between Biden and his staff, especially Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Whipple went on to describe Biden’s strong relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris, highlighting her significant national security responsibilities. 

Ethan Chiu ’26, who attended the event, found Whipple to be insightful about “both domestic and foreign policy.”

“He really characterized the Biden administration as more foreign policy-focused, as he talked about authoritarianism versus democracy for example, which was a big element of the Biden presidency,” Chiu said. 

Whipple’s book, “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House,” was published on Jan. 17.

Esma Okutan is the graduate schools reporter for the News. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, she is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards studying economics.