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Biden: A V.P., or a Cliche?

In today’s New York Times, we have the latest evidence that Vice-President Joe Biden remains without a meaningful role in the Obama administration.  Indeed, a slate of high-profile interviewees – President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Ted Kaufman, and David Axelrod – attempts to define Biden’s function within the administration by using a startling number of clichés:

Mr. Biden has settled into a role of what Mr. Obama compares to a basketball player “who does a bunch of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet,” the president said in an interview Friday. “He gets that extra rebound, takes the charge, makes that extra pass.”

“Joe is very good about sometimes articulating what’s on other people’s minds, or things that they’ve said in private conversations that people have been less willing to say in public. Joe, in that sense, can help stir the pot.”

“He was a good soldier,” said Senator Ted Kaufman.

“Like every single human being, his strength is his weakness, his weakness is his strength,” said Mr. Axelrod, now Mr. Obama’s senior adviser at the White House. “I think the strength outweighs the weakness to a large degree. And it’s all related to someone who speaks his mind and is forthright.”

“I think he’s playing the role as ‘adviser in chief’ that he has foreseen,” Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Biden …

Of course, none of these clichés describes an actual job.  Clearly, this is the way the administration wants it: administration officials are so wary of Biden (can you blame them?) that they prevented the Vice-President from being interviewed in an article about himself!



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