Biden the Second Most Powerful Vice Prez
He's scaling back from Cheney, but a major player in his own right
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2009 12:47 PM CST
Vice President Joe Biden.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – Joe Biden is surely not as powerful as Dick Cheney was, writes James Traub. But because Cheney so radically expanded the office of vice president, Biden has been able to scale it back and still become arguably the second most powerful VP in history. Biden has no portfolio—he acts more like a troubleshooter, jetting here and there to solve problems for the president. At one policy meeting, Obama simply said, “Joe, you do Iraq.”

“Everyone wants this to be some kind of buddy movie,” a White House official says. It’s not, Traub writes in the cover story of Sunday's New York Times Magazine, but that doesn’t mean Biden plays a bit part. “It’s me and him, and the cast of characters changes a little bit,” Biden says of his interactions with the president. “Very seldom a week goes by that he doesn’t call me down to his office, or wander in here and close the door and say, ‘Wait a minute, what about this?’”