Saturday, June 25, 2011

NY Times reports Biden wins Iraq

The New York Times reports that the drawdown in Afghanistan shows Biden's increased influence in the White House, it also mentions that Biden is a fierce advocate for the President's priorities (as though the VP has any choice).

Biden's influence is not news, there were some stronger bits of evidence, for example the Vice President's schedule which in a typical week shows numerous high-level meetings both with the President and key officials or, perhaps most significantly, the West Wing floor plan.

I still think what is striking about the policy process around Afghanistan is the way Biden played a public "devil's advocate" role when the traditional VP role has been to exercise influence quietly.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gore: Another Edition of VP vs ex-VP

Answering the Politico Arenaquestion Does Al Gore have a legitimate gripe with Obama? I wrote:
Al Gore is completely right and completely wrong at the same time. He is right that environmental issues have taken a back seat in the Obama administration. With multiple shooting wars, an economy in a continuing state of free-fall, and a hostile House little wonder that Obama is not devoting his time to the issue.

Ironically, Gore was an extremely influential VP in his day. His personal relationship with President Clinton was critical, but so was Gore's knowing which battles to fight. In the Clinton administration economic issues were front and center, everything else was secondary. As VP Gore did not push environmental issues when the president wasn't interested. As an elder statesman Gore is not constrained by political realities.

VP influence has relied on making sure there was limited public space between the views of our government's two principles. The VP has no bureaucratic power base of his own and Presidents don't need freelancers in the White House. But as an ex-VP, the only influence comes from reaching out to the public. One thing that is fascinating as that anyone cares what an ex-VP says. Throttlebottom would be amazed.

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