Barack Obama's suave, controlled campaign may have winced when gaffe-prone Joe Biden came aboard, but the vice president has proven himself to be a necessary straight-shooter time and again in the administration's tumultuous first nine months. From Afghanistan to health care, Biden has become Obama's most reliable "truth teller," and one who doesn't mind stirring the pot, reports Newsweek in a profile of the White House's No. 2.
Typical is the veep's skepticism of expanding the war in Afghanistan, favoring instead a focused effort against the Taliban in Pakistan. The approach was largely dismissed when Biden proposed it in March, but is gaining steam as the president weighs the hard realities of sending more troops. Ever the gadfly, Biden "says the things that others at the table don't want to talk about, or which they find uncomfortable," says Rahm Emanuel.