The nation's last two vice presidents loomed large in Washington—Al Gore leading on the environment and technology and Dick Cheney practically a shadow president. But when Joe Biden succeeds arguably the most powerful No. 2 in American history, the job is expected to shrink back to its original size. As the New York Times reports, Biden will serve primarily as a counselor and adviser to Barack Obama, and he will not receive a portfolio.
Biden, not known for his reticence in the past, has kept away from the media since the election. Instead he has been spending his weeks in Chicago, meeting with Obama, calling foreign leaders, and interviewing possible hires. Aides swatted down speculation that Hillary Clinton's presence in the cabinet might marginalize the VP-elect's role in foreign policy: "If he had made an argument against it, it would have carried a lot of weight. He was totally in support of it."