The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden

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.

Finally test your knowledge of Vice Presidential Trivia Quiz One and Vice Presidential Trivia Quiz Two.

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?

Tags: joe biden, The Vice Presidency (all tags)



maybe he can be involved in transportation policy

I love his ideas on that.

Actually, he is pretty good on a lot of the domestic policy issues. Obama could set him loose on those instead of leaning on him for foreign policy advice.

by desmoinesdem 2008-12-04 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden

why would anyone ignore biden on foreign policy?
 he is widely viewed as the single most knowedgable man in washington, on foreign policy...

regardless, godwilling he'll get a effective train system in the country, i want my i-5 corridor like bullet train.

by theninjagoddess 2008-12-04 11:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden

"just what is Joe Biden's role"

I wonder the same thing about you.

by lojasmo 2008-12-05 02:17AM | 0 recs
My prediction, FWIW

Biden being a means to an end (add gravitas, add age, add experience, reassure people with a fairly boring conventional choice, etc.), Biden will not be on the ticket in 2012.  That goes to Obama's chosen successor.

'til them, Biden's the guy in your office with 4 years until retirement.

by kosnomore 2008-12-05 03:43AM | 0 recs

"Because I might die"

Biden is exactly the sort of person I want to see as a contingency if something should ever, god forbid, happen to Obama:  He's smart, respected, liberal, and highly knowledgable.

In the meantime, any good advice he can give the administration on any of his areas of expertise is sprinkles on the sundae.

Though I agree with another commenter that he could work with Transportation on national rail projects... that would be really great.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-05 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden

Obama had to put together the rest of his team, which is why Biden hasn't been in the news.  He already has a place in the new administration.  I'm sure we'll hear plenty from Biden after the new team takes over.

by KTinOhio 2008-12-05 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Self-Deprecating Joe Biden

I'm sure Biden will be involved in the Administration.  Sometimes when you don't have a clear portfolio it allows you more freedom to contribute in all phases.  Obama's campaign was built around getting people involved.  He'll get Biden involved in a lot of good stuff.

by granty43 2008-12-05 05:06AM | 0 recs


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