Guess Biden Was Too Busy…

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In his front-page profile of Joe Biden in today’s New York Times, Mark Leibovich gives us a peek at how this White House approaches media management.:

Members of Mr. Biden’s staff said, however, that Mr. Biden would not be made available for an interview for this article. But they helped make others available to testify on his behalf: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Obama, who took a few minutes on a day when he was setting a new course for the war in Afghanistan to express appreciation for, among other things, Mr. Biden’s willingness to speak his mind.

We do learn a few things, though, including the fact that the Vice President, citing fiscal concerns, initially (and unsuccessfully) opposed the idea of pursuing health reform this year, “to the dismay of many present and others who heard about it.” Also, that Obama tends to solicit Biden’s opinion at the end of meetings, in part because he is a “useful contrarian.” And our old colleague Jay Carney makes a cameo near the end:

The vice president will be 74 in 2016. “We’re not ruling anything in or out,” said Jay Carney, a spokesman for Mr. Biden.

UPDATE: In re-reading this story, it occurred to me that there is at least one aspect of Biden’s role that it does not highlight. At a breakfast Friday with reporters that was sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the Vice President has been quite helpful to him, because Biden has deep and long-standing relationships with so many Senators who are crucial to the success of Barack Obama’s agenda. Reid says that Biden calls him with some regularity, and that the two of them talk about, for instance, whether it might be helpful for Biden to put in a call to a specific member who looks shaky. And as I noted earlier in this story for the magazine, Olympia Snowe told me that she had worked closely with Biden on the stimulus bill–resulting in the fact that she was one of only three Republicans to vote for it.:

The courtship of Senator Olympia Snowe started in December with a phone call from Joe Biden. The Vice President-elect made sure Snowe had his home telephone number in Delaware so she would know how to reach him on weekends. In the weeks that followed, the two traded memos back and forth about how an economic stimulus package should work. “I had an infinite number of ideas, because they had been stored up,” says Snowe, a Maine Republican who never got that kind of treatment when her party controlled the White House. “Now somebody was listening.”