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Vice President Joe Biden has left the house for Herzegovina

May 19, 2009 | 12:34 am

Democrat Vice President Joe Biden tells president Barack Obama he's going to Herzegovina this week

In fact, he's left the country. But not for a royal funeral yet.

With Herzegovina on everyone's mind these days, Vice President Joe Biden has been dispatched by the Obama White House to settle things down over there and ensure they understand what the new American administration wants and expects.

And the interpreters can clean up any Biden verbal gaffes or swearing before they get translated to the foreign leaders, some of whom Biden knows from his Foreign Relations Committee days and the many, many years he served in the Senate while Barack Obama was growing up.

Not as many Senate years as Robert Byrd, mind you. But then the ailing Byrd at 91 has a few years on Biden.

Also the vice president, who had a free weekend and then a graduation speech Monday, will travel to Serbia, Kosovo and one other place in southeastern Europe. What was it? Oh, Bosnia.

Joe left his basement VP bunker Monday for the jammed three-day trip and many meetings with people with difficult-to-pronounce names. Joe's probably sound asleep over the Atlantic as we write this. So read quietly.

The main point of the trip, according to a recent briefing by "a senior administration official," is not so much to change anything on the ground there but to demonstrate a renewed United States interest in the region and a continued commitment to its progress toward economic development and peaceful democratization as part of a greater Europe. 

A number of the world's lesser countries have learned over the years to be very wary when the U.S. government  demonstrates a renewed interest in them. American soldiers have often followed, demonstrating an armored American interest.

It does seem like some of this message-sending could have been handled via e-mail. But then you don't get to use the big plane. And maybe get some media coverage.

In Biden's absence the president will be left to handle the automotive emissions problem and the windmill building by himself. Then, on Friday Obama gives his third and final commencement address of the diploma season, at the U.S. Naval Academy, where abortion is not likely to be on the agenda. Protests neither.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press (Biden tells Obama he's going to Herzegovina this week).