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For Biden, Mission Accomplished

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Posted on Dec 23, 2010
White House / Pete Souza

By Ruth Marcus

The vice president calls, more than an hour after the appointed time but with an impeccable excuse: He was presiding over the Senate’s vote to ratify the new START treaty.

START was the finish of a great few weeks for Joe Biden. A great few weeks for President Obama too but in a sense even better for Biden because so many of the successful initiatives were on the vice presidential to-do list.

Deal with the expiring tax cuts? Check, after hours of negotiations around the vice president’s dining room table. Pass START? Check, after dozens of vice presidential interventions with wavering senators. New government in Iraq? Check, in the wake of a presidential assignment, “Joe, you do Iraq.”

It is easy—literally, folks—to mock Biden, but it is even easier to underestimate him. He is reliable fodder for late-night comedians. He is like an overeager puppy with a tendency to rhetorical accidents that require cleaning up. The latest was his assertion, about Afghanistan, that “we’re going to be totally out of there, come hell or high water, by 2014.” Totally, that is, in terms of combat troops. When Biden talks, folks, you can’t necessarily take him literally.

But Biden has also turned out to be a particularly effective player for the Obama administration across a broad spectrum of issues—and one whose political skills and relationships on Capitol Hill may turn out to be even more important in the new, post-election reality.

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Biden is the happy creature of an institution that Obama couldn’t wait to escape. Those relationships—the proven value, as he likes to say, of “my word as a Biden”—along with his well-honed sense of how far any individual lawmaker can be pushed, will be tested early in the 112th Congress.

The notion that this is a new function for Biden, filling a vacuum left by the departure of Rahm Emanuel, is wrong. As the vice president will be the first to tell you, even if you haven’t exactly asked it that way.

How has his role evolved, I wonder? “The story line emerging—Rahm’s gone, Joe jumps in—I have been doing this stuff from the beginning,” he says. “I’ve been dealing with Republicans from Day One, and I’ve showed up at every critical juncture when we needed the House. Last year the guy Nancy (Pelosi) wanted to come and speak to their retreat was me.”

The fascinating thing about Biden’s evident insecurity—“Here’s the thing I tell people and I realize I’m too colloquial and they think I never read anything and I read more than most of them,” Biden says at one point, apropos of nothing—is that, at least as far as his role in the administration is concerned, it seems unwarranted. For example, with little fanfare, it was Biden who helped broker the last increase in the debt ceiling in January, part of a multiple-moving-parts deal that also created the deficit commission.

Can that trick be repeated, once the warm feelings of the lame-duck have yielded to the cold reality of a Republican House and shrunken Democratic majority in the Senate? The answer will come early in the new year, with the debt ceiling about to be hit and funding for the federal government set to expire March 4. The linkage could give Republicans a powerful club to insist on punishing cuts.

Biden, chronically optimistic, might be forgiven a burst of Christmas cheer. “The one message (of the election) was, we want you guys to cooperate where you can,” Biden says. And, he insists, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among those who “got the message.”

Really? Mr. “If they think it’s bad now, wait ‘til next year”? Mr. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”? 

Look past the political rhetoric, Biden advises. “Don’t be moved by all you hear and take a look at what their needs are. ... We don’t have a whip hand but it’s not so clear they have one,” he adds, noting that a Republican push for immediate and drastic spending cuts will run headlong into economists’ warnings about the impact on a still-fragile economy.

“There’s going to be a lot of room here. It is not set, match, in my view.” With that, Biden is off. The vice president of the United States has, literally, a train to catch. The 4 o’clock Acela, home to Wilmington.

Ruth Marcus’ e-mail address is marcusr(at symbol)washpost.com. 

© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, December 26, 2010 at 2:41 am Link to this comment

The Elite in their underground bunkers don’t want the world threatened by nuclear
radiation, when they emerge,  after the ecological collapse they engineered, reduces the
population to manageable levels.

He’ll they paid good money for those underground hideouts, where they can ride out the
storm, while the rest of us freeze or fry on the surface.

They don’t want some one ruining their plans with a few well placed nuclear weapons.

Heck of a job Bite em, mission accomplished and all that.

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By TAO Walker, December 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

“rm” is right as RainMaker.  The death-cultists do own all the big guns.  Now lets see ‘em, and their gangster lackeys, shoot their way out of the death-trap they so eagerly shot their way into….or think and thought, buy and bought.  It’s already quite a show-stopper.

“frecklefever”‘s encouraging words are most welcome.  ‘Tis, after all, The Season. 

And look:  Here comes The Sun!

HokaHey!

Report this

By frecklefever, December 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

TAO WALKER.. I LIKE YOUR DOWN AND RAMPAGING NATIVE ANGER..ITS MORE REFRESHING
THAN THE MT OLYMPIAN STANCE ..AND CRAZY HORSE WOULD AGREE…

” THE ANCIENT CHIEFTAINS
ATOP THAT MANY SPIRITED BUTTE
GIVE THEIR GUIDING
SALUTE…

THE FIRST LANGUAGE CHANT
THE MI KMAQ DRUM
THE CEDAR FLUTE

COME JOIN THE PRUSSIAN
BLUE EYED SIOUX RECRUIT ” TWO SUNS

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By Aarky, December 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We are already hearing all the pundits proclaiming from the rooftops that the START was a great victory for Obama. No, it was a great victory for the world. Too many of the deliberately sabotaged programs from the WH is what caused the massive kick in the butt by very pissed democrats who didn’t come out to vote in November. They can try to put lipstick on a pig and draw lots of happy faces, but they worked hard to defeat themselves and most of the Democrats realize this.

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By rm, December 24, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

TAO Walker—yes, you are right. Joe Bite Me is just the comedic front man for a death cult that runs the US. Its gang-bangers are holed up in the Pentagon and the wall street investment banks. These guys are looting and destroying the world. There is no stopping them. They have all the guns. The USG is a criminal syndicate—no matter how jolly and goofy Joe Bite Me is.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 24, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

This is a spin campaign Rethugs would envy!  Dims have been rolled, sold and left for cold.

Played, laid and paid.

On the biggest issue, the tax bill, they sold out.  They were paid off with:

DADT, which was only opposed by crack-pot rightists.
START, which 99% of Republicans endorsed anyway but pretended not to in order to get the tax bill.
$$$ for the 9/11 heroes, which the Re-thugs cut in half because these heroic people suffering are, to the Teabaggers, passe.

They didn’t get
FCC rules that protect the consumer.
The Dream Act.

But both the Dims and Re-thugs are spinning this…“Bi-partisan”...bullshit!

Of the 41 Rethug Sens, a full 3/4 or more fought and voted against EVERY initiative other than the Tax bill.  So you have the Susan Collinses and Olympia Snowes, and a few others who are at ALL bi-partisan.

The only bright light on the GOP side is Lisa Murkowski, who, totally sold out by her party for that Joe Miller loony, now doesn’t owe them or McConnell jack-shit, and is making damn sure they know it.  She’s now pushing out the Palin b**** as the most influential and admired Alaskan.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, December 24, 2010 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Mission accomplished? It looks more like history will prove that, between Bush the Idiot and Biden the Narcissist, the term “Mission Accomplished” will have been downgraded to refer that time period a reluctant population has to wait before all these “great accomplishments” come back to haunt them. While Biden is proclaiming “Mission Accomplished”, the rest of the people who actually has to work for a living will be saying “Oh, Christ, what next?”

That’s the difference between children and adults; children will make some finger-painting and expect accolades equivalent to their having painted the Mona Lisa, while an adult will paint the Mona Lisa and put it in a closet, figuring that if it had any value of its own, it will happen of its own accord.

Most people will be celebrating New Year’s in a week; Biden will be celebrating Biden. Someone pass that narcissist his mirror.

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By TAO Walker, December 24, 2010 at 3:35 am Link to this comment

Echoing one of his own responses to another commenter recently, “rico, suave” hasn’t a clue what this Old Indian feels affection for….or about much of anything else, it appears.  His own avid “self”-adoration, however, is evident in the moniker he uses and in much of the virtual “talk” he so obviously loves to hear that “self” virtually utter here in the make-believe safety of cyberspace.

If he takes issue with the substance of anything offered, he should just state his ‘case.’  If all he wants is to pick a fight, he’d best try goading somebody more in his ‘weight-class.’  This Old Savage’s Mother won’t stand for Her Natural Children picking-on the handicapped….even those spoiling for it. 

“rico, suave” no-doubt comes-by his chronic immaturity as honestly as the rest of the “individual”-ized members of the subspecies homo domesticus, but even so he might be a little more careful how he behaves around adult free wild Human Beings….should he ever be lucky enough to meet any in the actual Living Arrangement.

HokaHey!

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, December 24, 2010 at 1:26 am Link to this comment

TAO:

You love hearing yourself talk don’t you.

Hokey Hi!

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By TAO Walker, December 24, 2010 at 12:59 am Link to this comment

Ms. Marcus certainly gives rave reviews to this latest stage-managed “governance” charade.  The “star turn” accorded Joe Biden seems to’ve been particularly to her liking.

All those items checked-off the veep’s to-do list turn out, on close examination, to be pretty much of the smoke-and-mirrors variety.  Everybody in the cast got to appear to be wrestling heroically with “the nation’s problems,” but their exertions amount to nothing more than slathering more make-up on the corpse.  Meantime, the corruption at its core goes on erupting poisonously into every area of the half-lives of a subject/citizenry, the “self”-styled “exceptional” allamericanpeople, who not so long ago were “self”-righteously CONvinced of being immune to the sorts of depredations they’d so slap-happily underwritten for so long all around the world.

But hey, pay no attention to the death-worshipers behind the gang-bangers behind the curtain.

HokaHey!

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