It may have looked as though Joe Biden lost last fall’s argument over strategy in Afghanistan, but he actually emerged with a powerful, well-defined role in the administration. His position, in his own words: “the skunk at the family picnic.” Biden has been the in-house skeptic on Afghanistan, but his subtlety and discretion have deeply impressed President Obama, Politico reports. “He’s not off the leash,” says one official.
“He’s now a major player,” says one foreign policy expert, and the proof is that Stanley McChrystal’s loose-tongued aides felt enough venom to dub him "Bite Me.” Indeed, last fall it was one of Obama’s people, not Biden’s, who leaked the VP’s alternative to the counterinsurgency plan, using it to temper McChrystal and Davis Petraeus’ expectations. But there apparently aren’t any hard feelings; Biden pushed to install Petraeus, and had dinner with him Tuesday in a show of solidarity.