The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden
by Charles Lemos, Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:26:24 PM EST
President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden met in Philadelphia this past Tuesday with a bipartisan delegation of governors from around the country hosted by the National Governors Association. The Vice-President-elect was to make a few opening remarks.
This is what he was to suppose to say:
And Governor Palin, your being here today sends a powerful message that when campaigns end, we are all partners in progress. Thank you."
But he actually said:
"And Governor Palin, I want to thank you particularly. I might point out, as I told you, we walked in. Since the race is over, no one pays attention to me at all. So I'm -- maybe you will walk outside with me or something later and say hello to me."
Frankly, few paid attention to Senator Biden during the campaign though I did because I actually like Joe Biden apart from a few reservations. Still his comments are the perfect foil for a question that I have been pondering this week. Now that Obama has assembled the A-Team of foreign policy, just what is Joe Biden's role in an Obama Administration?
No doubt Biden is part of that A-Team but is there a bigger role for the garrulous one with the rhetorical flourishes or is he destined for the political purgatory that the Vice Presidency has most often been? Granted the office has evolved recently beginning with Carter-Mondale and of course no Vice President has ever amassed the power and influence that Dick Cheney has. Still historically, the position has been a one-way ticket into political oblivion despite the one heart beat away. Even Gore's reinventing government project didn't seem to make full use of Gore's talents.
There have been 46 Vice Presidents in the nation's history. Here are their profiles. In 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush became the first sitting Vice President to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836. In between the only former Vice President who managed to get elected President would be Richard Nixon who was elected in 1968, eight years after serving as Eisenhower's Vice President. The two others who were elected President after serving as Vice Presidents are John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. More former Governors have won the White House than former Vice Presidents.
Of course, there have been nine "accidental" Presidents. Eight men have ascended to the Presidency via the death in office of the President. In order, they are John Tyler in 1841 on the death of William Henry Harrison, Millard Fillmore in 1850 on the death of Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson in 1865 after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Chester Arthur in 1881 after the assassination of James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley, Calvin Coolidge in 1923 after the death of Warren Harding, Harry Truman in 1945 after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1963 after the assassination of John Kennedy. Then there is the unique case of Gerald R. Ford who ascended to the Presidency upon the resignation of Richard Nixon.
But I am really more than anything curious what do you folks think of Joe Biden? What role should Biden play? What role will he play?