Biden's Role in Governence

>> Sunday, August 24, 2008

When i clicked on the NYT op ed written by Mark Penn it was with the full intention of finding something to mock. O have very little admiration for Penn and am mystified as to why he continues to receive column inches in major newspapers. Imagine my surprise when i read something i agree with.

From Al Gore on, the role of the vice president seems to have fundamentally changed. It used to be where the winner parked the loser or some other figure that he wanted to neutralize. Now, with the centralization of government power in the White House, the vice president has become essentially a Cabinet head. Indeed, the last two vice presidents have had real portfolios and responsibilities, second only to the president.

Penn is absolutely right (yuck). The power of the VP has come a long way since FDR’s First Vice President John Nance Garner called it a "warm bucket of piss". As the example of the VP's power is the one and only Dick Cheney.

Once in office, Mr. Cheney wound up playing major roles in national security if not running it. He leaves office as one of the first vice presidents in recent history to have no presidential ambitions but also as the least liked No. 2 since Spiro Agnew was forced to resign for accepting bribes. We are again heading for a vice president who, if elected, will be a major and important player in an Obama administration.

Thanks to Cheney and Gore the office now has meaning. The question now becomes what does Joe Biden want to do with it? He is commonly viewed as a foriegn policy guy but i have a hard time imagining that Obama will be willing to abdicate that role to someone. Obama has a pretty firm view of what we need to do in the world and how we need to do it. That means that Biden's area of policy control will be something domestically. My speculation is that that area will be primarily in the field of Justice and Law.

On his Web Page Biden touts several important domestic bills pertaining to the area of Law and Justice. These bills are:

The Second Chance Act, signed into law on April 9, 2008, will assist federal, state and local governments in providing inmates with the tools they need to successfully reintegrate into the community upon their release.

COPS Bill: building upon the revolutionary approach of the successful 1994 Biden Crime Bill while promoting new, innovative programs to focus on today's problems.

: "I consider the Violence Against Women Act the single most significant legislation that I’ve crafted during my 35-year tenure in the Senate. Indeed, the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 was the beginning of a historic commitment to women and children victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault. Our nation has been rewarded for this commitment. Since the Act’s passage in 1994, domestic violence has dropped by almost 50%, incidents of rape are down by 60%, and the number of women killed by an abusive husband or boyfriend is down by 22%. Today, more than half of all rape victims are stepping forward to report the crime. And since we passed the Act in 1994 over a million women have found justice in our courtrooms and obtained domestic violence protective orders."

People forget that Biden is not only on the Foreign Relations committee but also the Judiciary Committee and the Drug Caucus. He has spent a great deal of his time in the Senate working on these issues and if he cannot have the foriegn relations perhaps he will continue to work in these areas.

Another reason that i feel Biden will try to exert himself in this area is that Obama has not made this a center piece of his campaign. It is one of the areas that i think least has his stamp on it. He has talked some about his "urban policies" but has not made a major push for groundbreaking reform in that area. It means he can leave that to Biden without worrying that Biden will take it in a direction he would not like. Not that that is likely to happen as one of the few policy prescriptions Obama does mention is support for Biden's COPS Bill.

Support Local Law Enforcement: Barack Obama is committed to fully funding the COPS program to combat crime and help address police brutality and accountability issues in local communities. Obama also supports efforts to encourage young people to enter the law enforcement profession, so that our local police departments are not understaffed because of a dearth of qualified applicants.

Biden has to have something to do as VP. Playing the world diplomat is for the Sec of State and attending the worlds funerals is not a particularly appealing job. Biden has to get something out of this so why not policy leadership in the other area he spent his career working in?


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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