White House Dossier has obtained an exclusive transcript of a conversation in the vice president’s West Wing office in which White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough informed Vice President Biden that Biden would be going to Afghanistan as part of a trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was kidnapped by the Taliban.
We present to you here the transcript in full.
McDONOUGH: Mr. Vice President, we want to have a word with you.
BIDEN: Sure, go ahead, you got an idea? Let’s kick it around!
McDONOUGH: As you are aware, a U.S. service member, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was kidnapped by the Taliban. We are thinking of arranging an exchange.
BIDEN: You don’t say? Let’s do it!
McDONOUGH: Yes, I think we should.
BIDEN: Who are we going to send? One of their guys?
McDONOUGH: No, one of our guys
BIDEN: What the . . .
McDONOUGH: We know you are a brave man, particularly after a couple of scotch and sodas, and so we thought you might be willing to do this for your country.
BIDEN: For my country.
McDONOUGH: There are also several fringe benefits to the exchange.
BIDEN: Like what?
McDONOUGH: Well, once the Taliban have spent a certain amount of time with you, our intelligence agencies have assessed that they will start killing themselves.
BIDEN: I see.
McDONOUGH: You’ll be a cancer within the Taliban. Kind of like you are in the White House.
BIDEN: Okay . . .
McDONOUGH: It’s also a way to way to get our foot in the door with the Taliban. And to get you out the door.
BIDEN: Me out the door?
McDONOUGH: Yes. Now, this is all good because the Republican leadership has signed on because they don’t feel they can impeach Obama while you are vice president. We’ve decided it’s worth the risk.
BIDEN: Okay. I guess that makes sense. Who will the president appoint to replace me?
McDONOUGH: Anybody. It doesn’t matter. Anybody else.
BIDEN: I’m not sure I want to so this. What do they eat?
McDONOUGH: Lots of kabobs.
BIDEN: Every day?
McDONOUGH: Well, some days there’s chicken, some days there’s lamb.
BIDEN: Is there Thai food?
McDONOUGH: We don’t think so, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: Can I wear slacks and a golf shirt? I don’t want to walk around in my pajamas all day like those guys do.
McDONOUGH: If you are talking about traditional Afghan garb, you may have to wear what they wear.
BIDEN: But I don’t speak their language.
McDONOUGH: It’s okay, some Taliban speak English. Several make more sense in English than you do. Nevertheless, we’ve brought someone here from the State Department to try to teach you some basic phrases that you may need.
ARNOLD: Hello Mr. Vice President. I’m Arnold, from the South Asia desk. Please repeat after me: Allahu Akbar
BIDEN: Allahuuu . . .
ARNOLD: Allahu Akhbar
BIDEN: Ahh . . . Ahh . . . Alakabar
ARNOLD: No, Mr. Vice President, Allahu Akhbar
ARNOLD: Allahu Akhbar
ARNOLD: Gentleman, I don’t think this is possible. Let’s try it in English. They’ll understand. It means “God is great.”
BIDEN: Isn’t that kind of demeaning? Sounds like you’re talking about a can of soda or something. Like, “Hey, Sprite is great!”
ARNOLD: No, it means “great” as in “sublime.”
BIDEN: What’s “sublime?”
McDONOUGH: Just forget it. Just say it when you get there. Now, you’ll be leaving immediately.
BIDEN: Can I have a glass of milk first?
BIDEN: Can I bring my Phillies cap?
McDONOUGH: Well, sure. Now –
(Secretary of State John Kerry enters)
KERRY: Wait a second boys. The president has just decided we’re going to send five senior Taliban leaders from Gitmo for Bergdahl instead.
McDONOUGH: What? That’s absurd. Mr. Vice President, please get packed.
KERRY: No, really. Five Taliban.
BIDEN: Thank goodness. I’m not sure I was going to like it there. But you got me hungry. Please order me a chicken kabob for lunch. And bring me my pajamas.