Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ryan Lizza on Joe Biden

In this week's New Yorker Ryan Lizza profiles Biden breifly.

Of interest to me were these excerpts -
not long after Biden ended his own Presidential campaign, Obama approached him to ask for his support in the remaining primaries. Biden is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton (she once told him, “I think you and Bill were separated at birth”), and he said that he would stay neutral until the nomination was settled. “If you win, I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” Biden told Obama. Obama replied, “Be careful, because I may ask you a lot.” They had another conversation in February, and Obama continued to cajole him. “The only question I have is not whether I want you in this Administration,” Obama told Biden. “It’s which job you’d like best.”During the primaries, which continued until June, Obama and Biden spoke about twice a week. “He’d call not so much to ask for advice as to bounce things off me,”
I like this, which demonstrates Obama's interest in pragmatism and how to get things done:
The conversation in Minneapolis ranged from foreign policy and possible appointments to the federal courts to the legislative strategy that would be needed to pass an Obama agenda. Obama wanted to know how Biden had managed his signature achievements—such as the 1994 crime bill, which added a hundred thousand federally funded police officers to city streets.
And then this (emphasis mine)
he official story behind Obama’s Vice-Presidential choice is that Obama was won over by Biden’s ability to get support from Republicans in the Senate. In Biden’s telling, Obama liked his sense of empathy, a trait that Obama shares, to judge by the finely sketched characters in “Dreams from My Father,” his 1995 memoir. Biden told me that Senator Mike Mansfield, of Montana—who persuaded him to stay in the Senate in 1973, when he was distraught over the deaths of his wife and child—taught him that, no matter how reprehensible another senator’s views, his job was to figure out what was good in that person, what voters back home saw in him. It may be a sentimental view of how senators treated each other in an earlier age, but Biden suggested to me that when he repeated that to Obama it helped to bring them closer—and he said that he and Obama would bring that approach to Washington.
And the reason Biden is long beloved by me:
As a longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Biden was at the center of many of the hard-fought debates of the culture wars, and many conservatives still resent him for leading the fight against Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Bork, a strict constructionist, expressed his views freely, and Biden had little trouble using Bork’s past opinions to embarrass him.
This is also helpful:
By 2002, Biden’s brand of liberal interventionism was the consensus view among foreign-policy √©lites in the Democratic Party. During the 2002 Senate debate over the Iraq-war resolution, Biden occupied the political space between Bush Administration unilateralists and antiwar Democrats. He pressed for a resolution that would have allowed the President to use force only to disarm Iraq. (In the end, Biden’s proposal was undermined by Democrats who supported Bush’s version of the war resolution.)
Biden's Brief can be read in full here.

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