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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.