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Posted by on Nov 28, 2008 in Politics | 6 comments

The Disappearing Vice President?

JoeBidenVP.jpgThis is a question posed by Politico’s Carol Lee today in, Bidentity Crisis: Where’s Joe?

More than three weeks into the transition, and Vice-president elect Joe Biden generates less buzz than the non-existent first puppy.

The vice president-elect has not spoken publicly since the election, and was at Barack Obama’s side just once this week as the president-elect delivered a series of grim news conferences on the economy.

In terms of Obama’s cabinet appointments and the evolving roles of responsibility in the new administration, the author asks what might be the most pressing question.

Amid reports that Obama will name Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State the question swirled: What about Biden? Foreign policy was supposed to be his domain.

I can try to field that one. Foreign policy most certainly was supposed to be Joe Biden’s primary purpose… during the campaign. Americans, worried about Barack Obama’s thin (to be generous) resume in terms of foreign policy and international diplomacy were asked to accept Biden as the beard of experience to cover up those shortcomings. But the campaign is over and now foreign policy responsibilities will settle where they belong: on Obama himself and the new … [expert?] … he appoints as Secretary of State. Dick Cheney not withstanding, Biden may simply be quietly settling into the proper constitutional role of the Vice President. Aside from the occasional tie-breaker in the Senate, he basically needs to be checking in at the West Wing each morning to ensure that Obama has actually made it down for breakfast and is pouring syrup on the First Children’s waffles. With that done, his day is pretty much free and he can go out quail hunting, shooting the occasional lawyer or whatever else strikes his fancy.

None of this should be taken as any sort of cool relations between the White House and the Naval Observatory. The two men seem to genuinely like each other and any level of friendship between them represents a significant increase in comity over what we’ve seen in ages past. Readers of John Meachan’s essential new book, American Lion, will remember that Andrew Jackson threatened to kill Vice President Calhoun during the Nullification Crisis. (Friends and family members of the late Charles Dickenson would certainly attest that Old Hickory was a man to be taken at his word.)

So Biden may seem to be disappearing, but in terms of his constitutional duties, he’s probably just settling in to the normal routine of his job. Just keep checking on those waffles, Joe, and it will probably turn out to be an easy gig.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • StockBoySF

    “So Biden may seem to be disappearing, but in terms of his constitutional duties, heโ€™s probably just settling in to the normal routine of his job.”

    Yes I agree. I’d like to add that it makes no sense to me to wonder about Biden’s disappearance with relation to the Sec of State position…. there will always be a Sec. of State and there will always be a VP. Just like Obama will have many other advisors on foreign policy.

    Besides, Obama and Biden aren’t even in office yet. I’m not sure what else Joe the VP elect is supposed to be doing…. It’s not like Obama is going to have Biden make the announcements on Obama’s cabinet and administration picks. And since everyone is looking to Obama for leadership during this time (since Bush has checked out for the most part) I don’t think Obama would delegate any portion of that to Biden. Obama needs to come across as being “present” and in control of the situation. So I agree with you that Biden is just settling in to the VP (elect) position, which is to step in as prez if Obama becomes incapacitated.

    Your point about Biden’s strength in foreign policy during the campaign is important. Obama said during the campaign that he would consult with Biden on foreign policy. But it also shows that Obama’s potential replacement has the necessary gravitas to be prez,

    I’m not sure what the public expects of Biden as VP elect and why people are concerned he is disappearing…. I suspect that everyone is ready to get rid of Cheney, too…. Since Obama is acting like a leader people want to see (or perhaps they expect to see) Biden doing vice presidential stuff, just like Obama is being asked to take a leadership role as prez. It would be nice if Obama and Biden could be in office now, but that’s not going to happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • OK, Jazz, this is kind of bizarre and I’m still wondering what your point is. We have no idea whatsoever how much time Obama and Biden may be spending on the phone or in email consultation. It could be hours a day. He was almost certainly involved in the Clinton pick, the Gates pick and others. Good for Biden, not needing to be in the spotlight when it needs to be elsewhere. If the “where’s Biden” story gets any traction I’m confident he’ll appear, saying “WE have been putting together a cabinet and staff and planning our agenda. Thanks for your interest. Good day.”

  • Where is Joe Biden?

    Probably at the Capitol where, at last check, he was still a Senator.

  • StockBoySF

    GreenDreams: ‘”WE have been putting together a cabinet and staff and planning our agenda. Thanks for your interest. Good day.”‘

    That’s right. I agree that’s what the developing Obama administration is doing.

    I think if McCain had won he would have suspended his search for a transition team in order to deal with the economic crisis. Palin would have been doing her own bit to stimulate the economy by shopping for her inauguration gown and diamonds and pearls, which would have been funded by the “McCain/Palin Inauguration Committee”, co-chaired by Mike Kowalski (chairman of Tiffany’s) and Steve Sadove (chair of Saks). ANd Palin would be regaling them with stories about chasing down and hunting animals from helicopters, while eating mooseburger canapes.

  • DLS

    I do question why Biden isn’t more involved with the Obama team. I realize that the team wants him hidden because of the buffoonish things Biden has said from time to time, but if we’re going to exploit the Herd, why not also have a lectern with a sign board with a fake “Office of the Vice-President Elect” sign on it, and teach the media to say “Vice-President-Elect” routinely now like good trained Dem animals, they way they have done for Obama.

    As to what role Biden will play, being absent is typical for the VP over the ages, so I don’t think we can slam Biden for that, though again it’s probably in some measure to keep him from saying additional buffoonish things in public. I’d prefer a strong role for the VP, making him or her the nation’s principal domestic policy official (the super-governor who meets with governors and state governments routinely, for example, or who might be sent to locations in the country of current importance, even including disaster sites, making it a strong, not a weak, springboard to the Presidency) but this is preference that may not be shared by others. It’s perfectly normal if he disappears for four years beginning next year. (Or for less than four, with Hillary Clinton poised to take over eventually, as I have said elsewhere.)

  • DLS

    Actually, Stockster, the high fashion BS is already behind us. I was with my friend in DC for the 2001 inaugural (don’t worry; I also was with her many another time, including in the record-cold, record-turnout anti-war demonstration a few years ago on the Mall, for example) and during the inauguration night, she and I were dining at a favorite restaurant (the Italian one next to the downtown Capitol Brewing Company site, a theater, the ESPN Zone stuff, other tourist traps) and we saw then (January 2001) the high fashion crowd, including a few women with fur coats. (Think $$$.) My friend is an animal-rights activist, among other things, and she joked at me about how some people might put ketchup on those fur coats.

    The inaugural event is noteworthy because the Obama support is not limited to personality-cult BS but is a popular celebrity phenomenon and look at the situation with the inauguration next year, in that hordes of people, hordes, have to be turned away, fighting over tickets is stronger than any entertainment event to date, and contributions have to be limited because they’re being offered in large amounts. There’s never been any degree of popularity about an inaugural event before like that. I’m hoping to be there and see not only how large the crowds are, but what their complexion is like. (Mainly kids, or lefties of all ages like the anti-war protests, or broader cross section of society?)

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