WASHINGTON — The commander in chief was taking his time, as usual.
It was late March, and President Biden was under increasing pressure to penalize President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for election interference and the biggest cyberattack ever on American government and industry. “I have to do it relatively soon,” he said to Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser.
Mr. Biden had already spent the first two months of his presidency debating how to respond to Mr. Putin, and despite his acknowledgment in March that he needed to act quickly, his deliberations were far from over. He convened another meeting in the Situation Room that stretched for two and a half hours, and called yet another session there a week later.
“He has a kind of mantra: ‘You can never give me too much detail,’” Mr. Sullivan said.
Quick decision-making is not Mr. Biden’s style. His reputation as a plain-speaking politician hides a more complicated truth. Before…