Joe Biden update: N.Y. paper proclaims he's (maybe) second most powerful VP ever after you-know-who
In a cover profile with posed photos and everything (highly coveted in places called Washington), the New York Times Magazine reports that, after only 321 days in office, Joe Biden, who was a senator when Barack Obama was only a sixth-grader, has already possibly become the second-most-powerful vice president in the nation's entire 85,469-day history.
You might be wondering who was the most powerful vice president in U.S. history.
No, not Hannibal Hamlin.
We hesitate to publish the name of the most powerful vice president in American history because Biden called him the most dangerous VP in American history and commenters here get so excited about him, one way or another, even though he's related to Obama.
Also, as is well-known by conspiracy theorists (you know who you are), since our corporate parent is a charter member of the MSM, we are (secretly) prohibited from saying anything positive about Hamlin's Grand Old Party or anything even slightly mocking about the current Democratic administration that has so successfully turned the U.S. economy around so quickly. And all, amazingly, without incurring new deficits or lobbyists. And only a few hundred billion in new taxes and cuts.
So we'll just say that Biden is the most powerful vice president in the last 321 days. You figure it out.
The New York Times Magazine, not widely known for understated satire, is only the latest of....
...several major media outlets to publish its jolting Joe-Biden-is-really-more-powerful-than-it-seems-behind-the-scenes-helping-this-inexperienced-president discovery, all with the less-than-reluctant assistance of Biden's staff. (And one can only guess what the reaction is among the loyalists surrounding Obama.)
The article lists a number of areas where Biden has become supremo in the no-longer-fledgling Obama administration.
For example, foreign affairs. Forget Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an also-ran who also ran against Obama. Biden's the go-to guy for Obama on foreign policy and is charged with finally fixing Iraq.
Everyone remembers Biden opposing the 2007 troop surge and his bang-off pronouncement that Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy was "dead flat wrong."
Alas, that Biden pronouncement itself turned out to be dead flat wrong. (Though you didn't read that here.)
But no less an authority than Biden himself has proclaimed that Biden knows more about foreign policy than anyone else in last year's field of Democratic contenders. (See the N.Y. newspaper article here.) The article states: "Biden has a deep knowledge of, and an intuitive feel for, people and places still new to the president."
As one result, Biden has been dispatched to such international flash points as Herzegovina to swear his boss knows where they are and to talk about U.S. interests, thus surely maintaining civil calm.
According to the article, while Obama was otherwise occupied in his summer-long hustle for healthcare, Biden was dispatched to Iraq for a July 4 photo op with the troops that produced a particularly good picture that much pleased the White House. It had Biden within an ethnically and racially balanced gathering of troops beneath a big U.S. flag. Well worth the long trip.
According to the article, according to an unidentified VP aide, Biden and Obama were not all that close on the Foreign Relations Committee, in part because Biden resented all the attention the upstart Illinois freshman got after his few months in that exclusive Legislature. Remember during the Democratic primary campaign Biden portraying his young competitor as a neophyte?
Did we mention Obama was only 11 when Biden was already a senator? In fact, Biden still works out in the gym over there, where he's Obama's main Senate envoy on such things as healthcare and convincing alleged Republican Arlen Specter to turn. And, btw, Biden thinks his Senate office was much nicer than the VP's suite.
According to the article, the two has-been senators now running the chief executive's house still aren't all that close, even socially, where Biden favors his Wilmington weekends over hanging around D.C. with other elites. Although, besides Iraq and recently Afghanistan, Obama has turned to Biden to mediate political disputes within the seemingly seamless Obama administration.
We all recall how Obama put Biden in charge of revitalizing the American economy with the Revitalization Act given them by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, don't forget, is right behind Biden in presidential succession.
That revitalization has worked out so well that, thanks to $787 billion in stimulus money (much of it not yet spent), unemployment has only exploded from about 8% to more than 10%. Without Biden, it probably might be -- what? -- 28%-29% by now.
Additionally, Pennsylvania native Biden has learned the Chicago way well enough to drive reported stimulus spending and job creation in dozens of congressional districts that don't even exist.
According to the article, Biden is also successfully reining in his gaffe-prone garrulity.
All of which, frankly, doesn't leave much for Obama to do, except the Oval Office photo ops, a speech here and there, bows around Asia, pardoning turkeys and lots of ceremonial proclamations. Fundraising, of course. And changing the angry tone of the nation's capital. The president's next speech is Tuesday. On Afghanistan. His latest new strategy for the conflict he calls "a war of necessity."
As everyone recalls, the influential Biden was an early, ardent advocate of long-term nation-building in Afghanistan, where the war is now into its ninth year with American fatalities rising to one every 14 hours or so and poll support waning.
So, less than a year away from congressional midterm elections, forget about any cut-and-run exit talk from the Democratic president, who's listening so closely to Biden apparently. Look for cross-country, poppyroots-level reconstruction to be a major part of Obama's new stick-it-out Afghan strategic package.
-- Andrew Malcolm
The Ticket is the most powerful politics blog on this page. Click here to get Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. And we're also over here on Facebook.
Photos, from top: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg; Getty Images