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Not for the first time in history, a VP has disappeared before being inaugurated. I doubt that Joe Biden will ever complain or compare his office to "A bucket of warm piss" (Cactus Jack Garner) or a spare tire (all of them since 1900 or so), or call it "The most inconsequential office known to man" (Adams).


Inconsequential Joe
A return to the typical vice-presidency.
by Philip Terzian
01/05/2009, Volume 014, Issue 16 Weekly Standard


One of the conventions of modern presidential transitions is the ritual exaltation of vice presidents-to-be. The incoming vice president, it is announced, will have unprecedented responsibilities in the new administration. His desk will be located just inches from the Oval Office; he will be first among equals in the councils of state; he will dine with the commander in chief on a regular basis; his special province will be trade, or defense, or the mission to Neptune.

Whether this is because newly elected presidents really think their running mates are a national resource, or such rhetorical gestures are simple political courtesy, it is difficult to say. Almost invariably, however, such declarations are less than true. There have been genuinely powerful vice presidents--the incumbent, Dick Cheney; and George H.W. Bush was far from insignificant--but such exceptions prove the rule.

Joseph Biden, the 66-year-old six-term senator from Delaware, who is nothing if not a quintessential politician of his time, is destined to be more typical than not. We know this for two reasons. First, because the Obama apparatus has not even bothered to say that Joe Biden will have unprecedented responsibilities during the next four years. And second, because the only significant story to emerge about Biden since the election has been the fact--duly reported in the press--that the Bidens beat the Obamas in their quest to acquire a puppy. (For the record, Biden's new dog is a German shepherd.)

In fact, it may be fair to assume that Biden will be the least consequential vice president since Alben Barkley, the amiable 71-year-old Senate fixture from Kentucky, known popularly as the "Veep," who was so underwhelmed by his four years' service in the Truman administration that he subsequently got himself elected to the Senate again.

It is difficult to imagine either Hillary Clinton or General James Jones actively soliciting Joe Biden's judgment in foreign affairs, or -Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers consulting Biden on the economy. Similarly, if the neophyte Obama seeks advice on politics or policy, is Biden destined to be the one to set him straight, or whip the troops into line, or populate the White House and executive branch with Biden people? Will Rahm Emanuel be expected to "clear it" with Joe?

To ask such questions is to answer them--even without laughing. Indeed, if there were any doubt about the insignificance of Joseph Biden in Barack Obama's administration, it was answered with last week's announcement that Biden would chair a special, cabinet-level task force to assess the conditions of American middle- and working-class families. ("Is the number of these families growing?" asks the vice president-elect. "Are they prospering?") This is close to pure Democratic boilerplate. It might have been more entertaining to put Biden in charge of a White House council on change we can believe in, or appoint him to be the logorrhea czar, but no less humiliating.

This is not to say, of course, that Biden will disappear into his hideaway office on Capitol Hill, like Barkley, and fuel his afternoons with bourbon and branch water. Obama has been reasonably scrupulous about including Biden in public announcements and photo ops. But it will be noted that the next vice president has tended to serve as announcer and master of ceremonies at these events--a sort of Ed McMahon to Obama's Johnny Carson--instead of a member of the incoming squad. No journalist has detected the hand of Biden in personnel selections, or seriously suggested that factions in the Obama administration will naturally gravitate toward Biden's orbit.

'Twas ever thus. The modern vice presidency has been populated, in Washington terms, by many estimable men--Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney--but the contents of the chalice are considerably watered down. In some instances (Nixon, Bush) the office was, with some complications, a convenient stepping stone; in others (Humphrey, Gore), proximity to power had tragic political consequences. For LBJ and Ford, the vice presidency was a stroke of ill-disguised luck. For Rockefeller, it was a bittersweet climax to a monumental career. Mondale and Quayle were probably promoted to where they belonged.

Still, it is by any measure an ambiguous position: more than the "bucket of warm piss" described by John Nance Garner, less than its constitutional status suggests. In Dick Cheney's case, his power has derived from the consent of George W. Bush--not a good omen for Barack Obama's deputy--so Biden might have to console himself with comforting thoughts.

"A president lives in the spotlight," a vice president once declared. "But a vice president lives in the flickering strobe lights that alternately illuminate or shadow his unwritten duties. It is sometimes uncomfortable. It is sometimes ego-diminishing. But it is also quietly rewarding."

Spiro Agnew might well have believed those words when he spoke them at the 1972 Republican convention, but they are as meaningless today as they were then.

Philip Terzian is literary editor ofTHE WEEKLY STANDARD.
 

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A president....

...lives under the crosshairs, particularly the man who takes office January 20. As LBJ showed, a lightweight can wind up catapulted into the presidency at the twitch of a madman's hand.
 

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Whatever LBJ was - and I've called him a number of things and few complimentary, particularly after I made the mistake of voting for him in my first presidential election and then wound up in Vietnam getting my own personal pink bod shot at few times - it wasn't a light-weight.
 

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A man is judged....

...by his stature against the others in the limelight. Against the likes of Dag Hammarskjold, Ike, Reagan, and even, for Heaven's sake, Hubert Humphrey, he didn't measure up in terms of integrity, and he knew it. Had a lot to do with his not going for thirds.
 

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In light of Biden's penchant for saying stupid things-cf his comment on how after the Stock Market Crash in 1929 President Roosevelt went on TV to reassure the nation-I suspect the Obamadhi has made sure to surround him with handlers who carefully monitor
what he says and make sure he doesn't embarass the administration. Cf how the Obamahdi's wife has been remarkably silent since her angry outburst that for the first time she was proud of her country. And given thw way the MSM has fawned over the Obamahdi
I doubt we have too many leaks.
 

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...by his stature against the others in the limelight. Against the likes of Dag Hammarskjold, Ike, Reagan, and even, for Heaven's sake, Hubert Humphrey, he didn't measure up in terms of integrity, and he knew it. Had a lot to do with his not going for thirds.
You may not have a high opinion of LBJ's morals - but the fact remains, he was no lightweight, in terms of politics and historical impact at least. Far more a heavyweight than Humphrey, or for that matter Hammarskjold, who was a pretty good talking head and not much else.
 

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I doubt that Joe Biden will ever complain or ..........call it "The most inconsequential office known to man" (Adams).
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...But Joe will surely be " The most inconsequential man known to the office " , and in an office known for the nobodies who've come and gone un-noticed, that's quite an accomplishment. Probably Joe Bidens greatest accomplishment. Somebodies got to break the ties, so Joe becomes only as valuable as a tossed quarter. A twobit stand-in.
 

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I'd think their lives would be at least as involved as a senator. They have to cast a tiebreaker- rare but you'll still have to show up on occasion and you need to take part in the ceremonies. They will also send a VP abroad to do stuff the president can't do. Dick Cheney also spent a lot of time with the families of soldiers who died in Iraq, something the media did not cover. I'd say it's pretty easy compared to president, but i'd think nowadays no one is going to be bored.
 

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...But Joe will surely be " The most inconsequential man known to the office"
Sure, Joe Biden is not gonna be in the spotlight much (because of his mouth).....but I'm Affraid he's gonna have a lot more influence than you realize. Obama is inexperienced and he knows it....that's why he has Joe in the White house with him....to guide him a bit.....
Yeah, unfortunately Biden is gonna have a lot of influence behind the scenes....:mad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Biden has already gotten a reputation in the Obama proto-Administration as a loon who is completely undependable as a speaker. Neither you, Obama, or Biden himself know what's going to come out of his mouth when he opens it. Since he insists on yapping constantly he's dangerous as hell to the PR effort, a real loose cannon on the news media front although otherwise a fairly ineffectual lightweight ignoramus.

That's why during the campaign he was kept away from the press and only allowed to make short canned campaign speeches. And that's why you've heard almost nothing from him since.

Only with our grossly incompetent mainstream media could someone like Joe Biden pose as an experienced statesman.
 

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Sure, Joe Biden is not gonna be in the spotlight much (because of his mouth).....but I'm Affraid he's gonna have a lot more influence than you realize. Obama is inexperienced and he knows it....that's why he has Joe in the White house with him....to guide him a bit.....
Yeah, unfortunately Biden is gonna have a lot of influence behind the scenes....:mad:
Biden will not be guiding Obama...his cabinet members will be...as well as those who donated all those $ in record numbers.

Look for Bill and Hillary to have Pres. Hussein's ear.

In past administrations, it was not unusal for a VP to see the Pres. only a few times a year, and usually only with an appointment.

Countless VP's had inferiority complexes, as the Pres preferred to keep them in the dark for "power play" purposes.

Cheney was an exception as he'd had much experiance in previous administrations at the highest level, but Biden is just another faceless senator.
 

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How else....

Biden has already gotten a reputation in the Obama proto-Administration as a loon who is completely undependable as a speaker. Neither you, Obama, or Biden himself know what's going to come out of his mouth when he opens it. Since he insists on yapping constantly he's dangerous as hell to the PR effort, a real loose cannon on the news media front although otherwise a fairly ineffectual lightweight ignoramus.
How better, if you want to be left alone in your office to snooze peacably, do you act in order to get out of all the ribbon-cuttings and other little irritants that come to a VP?
 

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...But Joe will surely be " The most inconsequential man known to the office " , and in an office known for the nobodies who've come and gone un-noticed, that's quite an accomplishment. Probably Joe Bidens greatest accomplishment. Somebodies got to break the ties, so Joe becomes only as valuable as a tossed quarter. A twobit stand-in.
Joe is a heart beat away from being president. Imagine him as president.
 

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Joe is a heart beat away from being president. Imagine him as president.
People said the same about Cactus Jack Garner in 1940 and Harry Truman in 1944. Among others. Former Senator Bidet will probably do fine if somebody does the Magic Mulatto (I just hope the doer is a RIF or a disappointed Dim office-seeker).
 

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People said the same about Cactus Jack Garner in 1940 and Harry Truman in 1944. Among others. Former Senator Bidet will probably do fine if somebody does the Magic Mulatto (I just hope the doer is a RIF or a disappointed Dim office-seeker).

I certainly don't want to see that happen. I don't want him to be a martyr. Nor to I want to be forced to celebrate BHO Day ten years from now.
 

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Biden was picked because he's such a non-entity and Obama doesn't want to be upstaged by anybody. I am a bit puzzled by his selection of Hilary as Sec of State unless it's to get her out of the country as much as possible: all I can figure.
(So if anybody is worried about Oprah running the country: never happen, she'd upstage Obama.)
Funny how media didn't harp on Biden's frequent gaffes but picked EVERYTHING Palin supposedly screwed up on to bits and pieces over and over.
 

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Another point: in my mind, you could make a strong case that in the 1960 election, the lightweight was elected President (JFK). Oh, JFK was smarter, had a better military record, etc. but wasn't that effective politically and seemed to have real problems making decisions.
 
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