Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Many Hats Of Hatless Joe Biden

As Vice President, Joe Biden Will Be Central to Barack Obama's Administration
Biden will serve as an éminence grise and senior counselor to the new commander in chief from Day 1 and won't be relegated to the role of fill-in at funerals and odd man out in policy discussions.

"Biden will be especially instrumental in helping on the urgent foreign policy matters,"

Biden, who turns 66 on November 20, is also expected to help coordinate decision making on foreign policy inside the labyrinth of the executive branch, making sure that Obama's wishes are respected and his preferences enforced.

The Washington Post writes about Biden’s role in the hunt for a new Supreme Court justice. “With President Obama filling his first high court vacancy with the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, Vice President Biden finds himself regularly consulting with the president and fielding queries from the White House counsel and others for insights on the process.

For Biden, No Portfolio but the Role of a Counselor
“But I think his fundamental role is as a trusted counselor. I think that when Obama selected him, he selected him to be a counselor and an adviser on a broad range of issues.”

Analysis: Biden's role is filling gaps and taking shots
In choosing Sen. Joe Biden, Obama got what he described as a "scrappy kid from Scranton" -- a battle-tested politician whose job will be to help fill perceived gaps in Obama's résumé and serve as Sen. John McCain's chief critic.

An Obama aide says that Biden will be charged with helping to explain to the "American people where Obama comes from, and what his vision is for the country," as well as lay out "the choice in this election."

Biden To Shrink VP Role  Big Time
“He’s been very clear about that from the start that he was not going to take a portfolio in particular areas,” the transition official familiar with Biden’s role said. Biden would “be available widely and broadly to offer his advice on whatever hard questions the president was trying to decide.”

One area that seems to be shaping up as a Biden emphasis is labor policy. Thea Lee, assistant director of public policy at AFL-CIO, says she has gotten strong indications from “various sources” in the Obama transition that Biden will be a point-person for their concerns.

Biden recently shared the stage with homeland-security designee Janet Napolitano to be briefed on a report on weapons of mass destruction, a possible hint at how he will operate in office.

And in a small shift, Biden has expressed interest in bringing back the Al Gore tradition of hosting an annual Halloween party for the press corps at the vice presidential residence. Those parties did not continue under Cheney.

After Jabs at Cheney, Biden Pursues an Activist Role
Vice President Joe Biden, in a bid to become an influential second-in-command, is striving to carve out meaty roles for himself quickly.

In an East Room ceremony on Friday with President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden is launching a task force to work on social and economic policies aimed at helping the struggling middle class. He's selling the giant stimulus package on Capitol Hill, and schmoozing his former colleagues during workouts in the congressional gym. Next week, Mr. Biden heads to Munich for an international security conference, in a bid to repair relations with European countries.

"The vice president sees his job as counselor-in-chief. He doesn't want to be limited to a portfolio, but will take specific tasks with specific goals like the middle-class task force."

Obama’s motives hazy for Biden’s role on spending
When President Barack Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to oversee a massive federal spending program, it was unclear whether he was aiming to give Biden a serious portfolio, or something to keep him out of trouble.

Biden Finds a Role
When Obama announced that Biden was the top enforcer for how the stimulus bill would be spent and accounted for, it wasn't exactly confidence-inducing. "Nobody messes with Joe," Obama said in his congressional address. When you are the kind of person nobody messes with, it should be self-evident.

Insider vs. Outsider: Cheney, Biden Walk Very Different Paths in Vice Presidency
But since then, Biden has slipped back into the background, delivering a few commencement speeches, officiating at a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of his "Road to Recovery" tour, and apparently not being part of the inner circle on foreign policy -- the field of expertise that was the basis for his selection.

Biden to take new role overseeing Iraq policy
Biden would work with Iraqis "toward overcoming their political differences and achieving the type of reconciliation that we all understand has yet to fully take place but needs to take place."

How does Joe find enough time to offer his long line of expertise? Maybe he can focus on just one.