To (kind of) quote Jacobim Mugatu: "Joe Biden. So hot right now."

Joe Biden, being Joe Biden.

The Vice President, long one of the most maligned public figures operating in national politics, is on something of a roll of late.


* Biden stepped into what looked like a certain failure by the White House and Congress to cut a deal on the fiscal cliff, working out a last-minute deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that -- at least according to public opinion -- worked out quite well for the president.

* Biden is front and center on one of the Obama administration's biggest -- and certainly most high-profile -- second-term priorities: curbing gun violence.  Biden's seat at the head of a task force designed to develop a full-spectrum solution (or, at least, proposed solution) has already thrust him into the national spotlight -- he is huddling with executives from the National Rifle Association today, for example -- and will continue to do so as the task force's legislative proposals wend their way through Congress.

Those twin developments have re-established Biden as a major player in the Obama White House and stopped the eye rolls that greeted talk of the possibility of the vice president running for the top job in 2016.

"These weeks can continue to set him up as one of the few who can deliver in an era when no one thinks accomplishments can happen and everyone believes Washington is broken -- an appealing position to be in as he considers his future," explained one Biden loyalist granted anonymity to speak candidly about the vice president's prospects.

While it's beyond question that Biden's reputation as a serious political operator has been bolstered in recent months, as always with the vice president there is more to the story.

Biden's other major bit of attention over the last few weeks came from his performance -- there is no other word -- during the swearing-in of newly elected senators.

If you missed it, this video captures the gist:

How you feel about Biden's jokey, hail-fellow-well-met style on display in that video depends entirely how you feel about the vice president more generally.

If you like Biden, then you see how he acted in the Senate as evidence that he is a real person (or as close to one as a politician can get) who simply loves his job and being himself.

If you don't like Biden, that video reinforces your sense that he is a buffoonish figure, a gaffe-waiting-to-happen politician who could never a) be taken seriously as a presidential candidate in 2016 and b) even if he was, could never display the message discipline required to win a national race.

A longer look at Biden's career provides evidence to support both views. Biden served in the Senate from 1972 until 2008 and, in the process, racked up an impressive record of accomplishments -- from his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to his work on foreign affairs on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On the other hand, Biden's 1988 bid for president (Neil Kinnock) and his 2008 run ("clean....articulate") were marred by his lack of discipline.

The debate over whether Biden's style is charming or offensive -- or maybe charmingly offensive? -- is at the crux of what he will (or can) do next politically. That debate, however, is for another day (or maybe another year.)

What's apparent and indisputable over these past few weeks is that Biden has put himself at the center of the national political conversation in ways that have helped his boss but also himself.