The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A compelling photo that tells the story of the relationship between Joe Biden and Barack Obama

Vice President Joe Biden, center, his wife Jill Biden, right, and President Obama walk towards the Oval Office after Biden announced Wednesday that he won't seek the presidency in 2016. (Mike Theiler/Pool via Bloomberg)

A lot has been written about the close relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Obama has repeatedly said that choosing Biden was the smartest decision he has made in politics. And, at the funeral for Beau Biden, the vice president's oldest son, the president said of his running mate: "Joe, you are my brother.  And I’m grateful every day that you’ve got such a big heart, and a big soul, and those broad shoulders.  I couldn’t admire you more."

Given that relationship, it was compelling to watch Biden, age 72, end a lifelong dream with Obama, a man 18 years his junior and one who had achieved that dream, standing by his side. "I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination," Biden said as Obama stood silent a few feet away. "But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent."

Biden's speech felt like the address he wanted to give to launch a campaign for president, but knew he couldn't.  The timing wasn't right -- and  won't be. Obama, of course, knew all that -- and knew that, for him, the timing had been perfect.

How do you comfort an old friend who has to let a dream drift away? You put a hand on his shoulder.

Behind the scenes with Joe Biden

During a quiet moment in his White House office, Vice President Biden meets with staff members. Some analysts have called him the most powerful vice president of the modern era, and President Obama has tasked him with many top priorities. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Vice President Biden announced that he is not running for president. The Fix’s Chris Cillizza explains why this is important. (Video: Alice Li/The Washington Post)