The Washington Post

Joe Biden a more powerful vice president than Dick Cheney?

David Rothkopf thinks so. The CEO and editor-at-large at Foreign Policy writes, “Washington is a town in which relationships are currency, and given the fact that the president is both relatively new to the city and not exactly a social animal, it is Biden’s ties that are often critical to helping the White House advance its goals.”

Vice President Biden.

And Vice President Biden has used that currency in Washington’s two big fights thus far this year: the fiscal cliff and the gun control debate. 

Not convinced that matches up to Dick Cheney, who is often considered to be the most powerful vice president in history? 

Rothkopf asks you to consider this:

The veep has thus far taken the point role in the two most important initiatives of this year for the Obama administration: the fiscal cliff battle and gun control. He is perhaps the president’s single most influential foreign policy advisor. Obama’s incoming national security team is Biden’s favorite players from his days as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are seen as far closer to him than to the president. Tom Donilon, the president’s national security advisor, is also seen as close to the vice president, which should come as a surprise to no one since his wife, Catherine Russell, is the vice president’s current chief of staff. Biden’s previous chief of staff, Ron Klain, is one of two men considered likely to replace Jack Lew as Obama’s chief of staff. Biden’s top national security advisor, Tony Blinken, is seen as heading for a promotion (if moving away from this particular vice president could be seen as a step up), either stepping in for U.S. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice should she someday become national security advisor or moving over to a top job in Kerry’s State Department.

What are your thoughts? Is Biden a stronger vice president than Cheney was? Is he playing a bigger role to prepare for his 2016 presidential bid? Or is he simply getting the work of the administration done because President Obama lacks the relationship currency or political skill to do it himself?

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.



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Allen McDuffee · January 15, 2013