Yesterday afternoon, I was poking around the internet (while I was supposed to be working) and came across an item which was headed:
Joe Biden Passes Up Senate Democrat Invite
The lead was:
"Vice President Joe Biden declined a request by Senate Democratic leaders to brief their caucus Thursday on the administration's strategy on tax cuts, the START treaty and unemployment insurance, according to senior Senate Democratic aides."
(I Tweeted this yesterday afternoon. If you don't follow me on Twitter you should: @richgalen.)
Joe Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and served a U.S. Senator until his resignation on January 15, 2009 to become VP.
He wasn't old enough to take the oath of office when he was elected, but he reached the Constitutionally required 30 years of age on November 30 of that year.
I point that out because Joe Biden has never done anything other than be a U.S. Senator. As you know, as Vice President he is also the president of the U.S. Senate, so he still has official duties.
The notion that he would not come up to the Hill to meet with Democrat leaders to discuss the Administration's negotiation position on taxes, START and unemployment must mean one of two things:
A. The Administration doesn't have a negotiating position on taxes, START and unemployment; or,
B. The Administration has a negotiating position on taxes, START and unemployment, but doesn't trust Biden to carry the message.
The problem with being Vice President of the United States is: Even the most junior staffer on the President's staff believes he or she outranks you and, unless your name is Dick Cheney, they are probably correct.
I got a call from a reporter for the LA Times yesterday who asked me what I thought about how President Obama was doing in his negotiating with the Congressional GOP.
I said it appeared to me that Obama didn't know how to negotiate because he'd never done it before.
He served in the Senate for about 3-and-a-half weeks before he started running for President. There is a scant record of his trying to write and pass any legislation in any committee on which he served, so he didn't learn how to negotiate as a Senator.
We know that when he was inaugurated in 2009 Obama had enormous majorities in both the House (257-178 +79) and in the Senate (60-40 +20) so his negotiating strategy with Republicans at the beginning of his Presidency involved telling Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va): "I won."
Joe Biden was picked by Obama to run as his VP in August, 2008 shortly after Obama had returned from his pre-election victory tour of Europe. It was clear that the ticket needed someone with some foreign policy credentials and Biden, who was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, fit the bill.
Biden is missing the gene that says "Just because it comes into your head, doesn't mean it has to come out of your mouth."
Just the other day Biden, as President of the Senate, was swearing in newly-elected Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Biden instructed Kirk to put his right hand on the bible, leaving Kirk's left hand to be raised to take the oath which is the opposite of the custom in this universe of raising one's right hand when taking an oath.
Sarah Palin might not know her North Korea from her South; but I suspect she knows her right hand from her left.
All of this does not portend a positive future in the White House for Mr. Biden. It means to me that at this very fragile time in Obama's political career, the President has no confidence that his VP can be trusted not to say something which would do enormous damage in Obama's attempt to build a relationship with his former colleagues.
Don't believe me? It was announced yesterday afternoon that Biden will go to New York later this month to "chair a high-level UN Security Council meeting on Iraq." The meeting will be held on December 15, just about the time everyone in Washington will be hunkering down for the final sprint to adjournment.