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Fix Pick: Being Joe Biden

Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., speaks during a campaign rally at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Behind is Sen. Maria Cantwell, left, and Gov. Chris Gregoire, right. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden is the odds-on favorite to become the second most powerful politician in the country in just 15 days time.

And yet, outside of Washington, where he has spent the last three decades of his life, little is known about Biden. His selection to be Barack Obama's vice presidential nominee was greeted with approval but little fanfare and since that time Biden has largely operated in the considerable shadow (for good and bad) of his Republican rival -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

So, who is Biden? And what kind of vice president would he be?

Leave it up to the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza -- the second best political reporter in Washington whose name ends in "Lizza" -- to answer those questions in a new piece that looks at the role Biden envisions for himself in the White House.

Make sure to read the whole thing. But, if you don't, here's the gnews you need to know:

• Biden sees his role -- if he and Obama win the White House in 15 days -- as more a general counselor to the president (in the mold of Walter Mondale) rather than an expert on any one issue. "'If you're asking me to join you to help govern, and not just help you get elected, then I'm interested,'" Biden told Obama, according to Lizza. "'If you're asking me to help you get elected, I can do that other ways, but I don't want to be a Vice-President who is not part of the major decisions you make.'"

• Lizza writes of how Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) split his potential veep picks into three categories: Mr. August, Mr. October (with apologies to Reggie Jackson) and Mr. January. The first category is aimed at making an immediate political impact and fundamentally altering the campaign narrative. (Palin seems to fit that category.) A Mr. October pick is some with a unique demographic appeal or a real presence on the campaign trail. (Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards for example.) The Mr. January pick -- the category in which Lizza believes Biden to fit -- is less about getting elected and more about governing, and, as such, is usually an old Washington hand that brings less on the front end of the campaign than on the back end in the White House. "Not surprisingly, the most powerful modern Vice-Presidents have been politicians who had congressional experience and long Washington résumés--Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, Al Gore, and Dick Cheney," writes Lizza.

• The reason Biden doesn't get much press attention? There aren't all that many members of the press with him on the trail. "On some days, only a single print reporter is covering Biden, and weekly studies of the news by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism note that Biden was the subject of between two and six per cent of all stories each week in September," writes Lizza. (For the record, the Post's own Perry Bacon is with Biden nearly all the time -- so much in fact that the Delaware Senator has taken to critiquing Perry's physique.) The result of the relatively sparse coverage of Biden has been that only his verbal gaffes, for which he has long been known, get attention. Writes Lizza insightfully: "His style does not play well in the modern media environment, and coverage of his gaffes has sometimes overshadowed the substance in his speeches, such as the moment when, at a rally in Missouri, he asked a state senator in a wheelchair to stand up. (Biden recovered well, joking, 'You can tell I'm new.')"

• Biden believes that his long -- and good -- relationships within the Senate will serve him well if he winds up as the vice president although, as Lizza notes, history teaches a different lesson. Biden insists he has never "screwed another Senator" and cites Lyndon Johnson as his model for what a long time senator can do once he ascends to the vice presidency. Of course, while Johnson is widely seen as among the most effective Senate majority leaders in history, his swat over his colleagues lessened considerably once he became vice president. "[Johnson's] base had been the conservative Southern Democrats, and, once he joined an Administration they regarded as liberal -- particularly on civil rights -- he lost them," writes Lizza. Lizza also spoke to former Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, far less of a Senate titan than Johnson, but whose experience in going from the legislative to the executive branch remains instructive. "'He'll find out when he gets up there that your fellow-senators don't vote based on relationships,'" Quayle told Lizza. "'Those long-term relationships are helpful, but every man and woman in Congress does what's in their interests, not necessarily what's in the President's or the Vice-President's interests.'"

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 20, 2008; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is McCain Coming Back?
Next: Wag the Blog Redux: Money, Money, Money


10 ten ways Obamoron has been tested-

1) He knows how to scam a mortgage company.

2) He knows how to stuff $126,000 from Freddie/Fannie in his pockets while not signing S.190 which would have brought oversight their activities.

3) He knows how to drag his kids to a racist, hate filled church during their formative years yet avoid being called a racist himself.

4) He knows how to change his position on virtually every theme in his original campaign yet avoid being seen as a flip flopper.

5) He knows how to taken in millions from overseas middle east sympathizers undetected.

6) He knows how to run a campaign based on pure conjecture because he has no experience to bring to the table.

7) He knows how to play that race card ever so subtly.

8) He knows how to cavort with thugs, felons, communists and throwing them under the bus as needed.

9) He knows how to "appear" presidential though nothing in his background indicates he can do the job.

10) He knows how to tout his Harvard Law Review background but there is not a single shred of evidence he actually performed the job.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | October 22, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Dan Quayle, if Biden really is part of the Obama team, and the Senate is based on quid pro quo, then Biden would be bartering the prestige, agenda and power of the Presidency. LBJ was never part of the Kennedy team and it is questionable if Quayle was ever part of any team. But if the members of Congress view Biden as Obama on the Hill, then he should have all sorts of power.

Posted by: caribis | October 21, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

It amuses me that the deluded right still try to say that Obama has no substance and is full of empty words. During the debates and just about every speech he has given since has been about specifics. Perhaps the righties just can't comprehend what he is saying. Perhaps he needs to dumb it down for them.

Posted by: Godhimself1 | October 21, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

While it is clear there are still bastions of hate in this country (mainly on the political right), we should not lose sight of one fact: We are on the precipice of electing an African-American to the highest office in the land. This speaks volumes of how far we have come as a nation. It should give us hope for the future. This a great time in our history.

While the lunatic fringe gets the press coverage, let's remember that it is the moderates on both sides and the independents that represent the true will of the people. With all our warts, we are still the greatest nation on earth.

Posted by: Godhimself1 | October 21, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting to hear the rightie nutjobs saying Obama will run up the deficit even more. How can they say that w/ a straight face when Bush has put us farther into the red than in any time in our history. They had to add another digit to the deficit clock in NY for God Sakes!

The truth is that the Dems have become the fiscally responsible party in the past couple of decades. Clinton left us w/ a surplus which vanished under Bush. And it was Clinton introduced a "pay as you go system". Obama wants to reinstate this system.

If the economy and fiscal responsibility are your top concerns then the clear choice is Obama/Biden, hands down.

Posted by: Godhimself1 | October 21, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"let no one decieve you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience" ephesians 5:6 the bible which is God's word.

A warning about obama. he is man of empty words. a man who has lied even about his own voting record and associations with people. a man we cannot trust. vote for a man we can trust, John McCain a proven man of action and reformer.

Posted by: diaco7529 | October 21, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse



These are the Obama quotes from Obama's own book which are going around the internet - I have not checked each one - however if Obama did write ANY of these statements, OBAMA IS NOT QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT:

From Dreams of My Father:

'I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13,

when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.'

From Dreams of My Father :

'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.'

From Dreams of My Father:

'There was something about him that made me wary,

a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white.'

From Dreams of My Father:

'It remained necessary to prove which side you were on,

to show your loyalty to the black masses,

to strike out and name names.'

From Dreams of My Father:

'I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own.

It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa ,

that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself ,

the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.'

And FINALLY the Most Damning one of ALL of them!!!

From Audacity of Hope:

'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'



Posted by: 37thandOSt | October 21, 2008 4:28 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you wrote:

"Writes Lizza insightfully: "His (Biden's) style does not play well in the modern media environment..."

I'd be interested in more explanation of that. I actually think he's a very compelling speaker--in some ways, more than Obama. He can speak eloquently, but he can also talk to Average Joe. He's got fire. He tells it like it is. He's got one liners. And yes, he even gives the media gaffes. What else do people want?

Posted by: MNobserver | October 21, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

ACORN (THE ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM NOW) IS A LEFT-WING GROUP THAT TAKES IN 40 PERCENT OF ITS REVENUES FROM AMERICAN TAXPAYERS — you and me — and has leverage nearly four decades of government subsidies to fund affiliates that promote the welfare state and undermine capitalism and self-reliance.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA CUT HIS IDEOLOGICAL TEETH WORKING WITH ACORN AS A “COMMUNITY ORGANIZER” AND LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE. Naturally, ACORN’s political action committee has warmly endorsed his presidential candidacy. According to ACORN, Obama trained its Chicago members in leadership seminars; in turn, ACORN volunteers worked on his campaigns. ACORN head Maude Hurd gushes that Obama is the candidate who “best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about” — like ensuring their massive pipeline to your hard-earned money.

THE GROUP’S VANDALISM ON ELECTORAL INTEGRITY IS SYSTEMIC. ACORN HAS BEEN IMPLICATED IN VOTER FRAUD SCHEMES IN MISSOURI, OHIO AND 12 OTHER STATES. The Wall Street Journal noted: “In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mar Poppins,Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, THE CANDIDATE OF HOPE AND CHANGE — ACORN’S SENATOR, IS FOR MORE OF THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD SUBSIDIZING OF FAR-LEFT POLITICS in the name of fighting for the poor while enriching ideological cronies. It’s the Chicago way.


Posted by: Manolete | October 21, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Biden? I've heard that name somewhere....

Posted by: officermancuso | October 20, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Biden will not be the second most powerful politician in the country. And his running mate will not be number one. That distinction will go to Prime Minister Pelosi.

As for Biden, rumor has it that he will be asked to moderate the National Spelling Bee. How many letters are there in J-O-B-S?

Posted by: Verrazzano | October 20, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: fu_buki | October 20, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: fu_buki | October 20, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

bondjedi writes
"I don't think even as VP that Biden would be the second most powerful politician in the country (aside from breaking an occasional tie). I think that there are ranking members of the House and Senate that would have more juice than him."

You likely wouldn't say that about Dick Cheney. Is it your contention then that Biden would not have as much power as Cheney? That's likely true as well. But... How much would he have? That's the tough question. Given the significant changes to the job that Cheney has made, I'd expect Biden to be more of a player than Gore was, certainly more than Quayle. Whether that ends up being more or less than Reid, Pelosi, etc remains to be seen. But... Given the relative power of Congressional leaders, the guy in the cabinet meetings & potentially with a portfolio of his own could be fairly argued as more powerful than the Speaker or Senate Majority Leader.

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 20, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I was at the Biden rally in Tacoma. My teenage son and his friend went with me. Though the line was long to get in, perhaps one mile, there were many volunteers to answer questions and make the security check go quickly.
The local politicians spoke while the stadium filled. The stadium holds about 8,000 and it was filled with people on the field as well.
Biden was clearly enjoying himself. Though he must make essentially the same speech many times, he was relaxed and added humorous anecdotes. The economic plan was explained clearly. He is genuine and likable, great guy. No character attacks were made by any of the speakers on the opponents.

Being part of the crowd brought a tear to my eye. Seated in front of us was an asian family and beside us was a black family. The positive energy was wonderful. I really feel fortunate to be a citizen of such a diverse country.
Obama/Biden '08!!

Posted by: rjbunny | October 20, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"Look folks"...
a high percentage of the looney posts on this site are from paid for typists by the RNC....
"I'm not kidding you"

Posted by: TruthWalksOnWater | October 20, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA BIDEN 08...!!!


Posted by: fu_buki | October 20, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

From everything I can find about him and his longtime accociates, he is not good for America.

Posted by: lylepink | October 20, 2008 7:38 PM |


It would help if you looked a little past your prejudices. And maybe a little past your own nose....

Posted by: paulstewart | October 20, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I can't understand why all the CHRISTIANS in the US are not answering the Obama/Biden call to "share the wealth"
Even these people actually practice what they preach they should be more than willing to be their "brother's keeper" and let the "last be first"

They could actually earn their redemption by helping those in need instead of hoarding and splurging as so many of them do.

Let's see some "Christian Patriotism"

Posted by: inewsmaster | October 20, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Yet another useless and cynical article by the Post. What has happened in this past year or so is beyond belief for one of our top newspapers in the US. Your support of Obama only reflects The Media is so biased in his favor that any meaningful reporting has became a thing of the past. I have been a registered D since 1960 and usually support the D candidate for Pres, but not this time. From everything I can find about him and his longtime accociates, he is not good for America.

Posted by: lylepink | October 20, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

"It also made the point that Hagel has been an ally of Lugar, JB, and BHO. Hagel is leaving the Senate. Does he get a place in a BHO Admin?"

Heavily speculated that he will be Secretary of Defense. His wife recently endorsed Obama, and that he's an Obama supporter is pretty much an open secret at this point; it's a question of whether he and Obama are going to do some final headline-grabber in the closing days if/when he needs media attention, or if it will remain implicit. When Obama went overseas, for example, he had Hagel and Jack Reed tagging along, a la McCain with Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham.

Posted by: SeanC1 | October 20, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Chris - I don't think even as VP that Biden would be the second most powerful politician in the country (aside from breaking an occasional tie). I think that there are ranking members of the House and Senate that would have more juice than him.

Posted by: bondjedi | October 20, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but anybody asking Dan Quayle for advice, unless it's on what club to hit into a par 4, shouldn't be asking.

Posted by: ursadog | October 20, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

"the second best political reporter in Washington whose name ends in 'Lizza'"

Fix, I just fell in love with you.

Posted by: pyrophile | October 20, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The Lizza article is worth reading. It might lead one to think they will count on Lugar as a key ally in the Senate. I had thought Lugar might serve as SecState in a BHO Admin.

It also made the point that Hagel has been an ally of Lugar, JB, and BHO. Hagel is leaving the Senate. Does he get a place in a BHO Admin?

That Tacoma rally you have pictured drew thousands - a surprise.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 20, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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