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How Robert Costa Became the Golden Boy of the Government Shutdown

October 18, 2013

By Joe Coscarelli

a_190x190As the dust settles from the government shutdown and debt-ceiling standoff, and while John Boehner and Ted Cruz figure out what’s next from out the wreckage, at least one man on the right is giddy. “I feel like I’ve been up for three straight weeks,” says Robert Costa, theNational Review‘s Washington editor and star blogger, who has been in the thick of it all as the government edges up to economic destruction. He’s not even tired. “I don’t feel like I need to exhale,” he says, the end finally in sight. “Whenever things get hot, that’s when I love it.”

He has reason to: Costa has been celebrated by his colleagues and subjects alike as a must-read this month, his reporting from behind the closed doors of Republicans in Congress held up as indispensable, a shining beacon of the form in which a man tirelessly asks questions and prints the answers without fluff or bluster. He’s been called “the most important reporter in the country,”“omnipresent,” and “the only winner here.” (Costa and his team got so many scoops about the GOP’s constantly changing strategy that congressional leadership warned members about leaking to the National Review, a fact alsoreported by the National Review.) Since Monday, he’s gained more than 7,000 Twitter followers, and seemingly tweeted as many times.

But he shrugs it all off. “It’s just been more of the same,” Costa says (although he did make sure to e-mail this writer a story called “Robert Costa’s Moment”). “Report, report, report. That’s all I do.”

He’s been at it for a while, if only held up as a national star for a few days. In high school, Costa wrote music and concert reviews for his local paper, the Bucks County Courier Times in Pennsylvania, but he was in a story before he really started writing them. Along with his classmates, “Bob” — he uses “Robert” as a byline to avoid confusion with Bob Costas — was featured inWonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School, a book by Michael Bamberger.

Active in student government and interested in politics, Costa was painted as an overachieving people-pleaser, but not quite a sycophantic Eddie Haskell type. “His father, a lawyer, had a business card, the junior-class president saw how useful it was, so he ordered some for himself,” Bamberger writes. “His card read: Bob Costa, Pennsbury High School.”

“If you have that level of earnestness, you’re never going to be one of the cool kids,” Bamberger recalls now that his subject is all grown-up. (They’re still in frequent touch.) “Being eager is the worst thing you can possibly be.” But Costa was not “Über-in-your-face” about it, Bamberger says. “Most people have this instinct to try so hard to impress the other person, but he doesn’t. You can have that at an obnoxious level — he doesn’t cross the line.” Read more in New York Magazine.

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