On his last visit to Iraq (pictured right), Joe Biden went with a little more pizazz. He was there to get everyone excited not just about the Obama Administration and their plans to end the war, but about Joe Biden, a non-president who hoped to genuinely act in Obama's stead. This time around (not pictured right), on his third trip, Biden is playing the Good Cop to the Bush Administration's Bad Cop, a relationship that has persisted since George Bush I created a similar situation in Iraq and Bill Clinton stepped up to usher in a new era of peace.
Any head of state knows that one's perception of peace is relative to how much one knows about what is actually going on in the world. Making lip service to peace is always easy - from those who want it and don't know how to get it and from those who don't want it and say they do - but making actual strides in terms of peace is very difficult, because, outside of the most simply-decided peace (the end of a war), the path has rarely been tread.
But what I personally find most interesting here is that, conceptually, the "Good Cop, Bad Cop" analogy (not the best, I'm aware), in comparing the Bush and Obama Administrations, seems to apply most strongly to the seat of the Vice President. As far as the war in Iraq, the Vice President has, in both administrations, taken a strong role. Certainly, Cheney is only coming out in the press about it all now, sort of a more honest ghost of who he was while in office, but the comparison between him and Biden is a stark and interesting one. Meanwhile, our President is involved in the healthcare debate (or, as David Cross put it on a local radio show this morning, "The Healthcare Yellings") and spends little time addressing one of the main issues on which he was elected - the war. That said, I wouldn't, in this case, call that a bad thing. At least in terms of the Vice Presidency.
The Vice President has regularly been given diplomatic duties, from simple showboating and handshaking to serious debate about issues and conflicts while in the affected country. Rarely, though, has the Vice President taken up a full wing of policy in the President's stead. This, as Matt and I have often argued, is how the Vice President ought to function, in practice, at least, if not in law (though law would actually be preferred). Biden's time in Iraq, whether fruitful or not, whether more PR than substance, still says a lot about the Obama Adminstration's trust and respect for the office's potential. It should be made clear that the Veep has only potential, and, given Biden's role in cleaning up after the bulk of the Iraq war, it seems Joe might be on the road to realizing it.
Jason C . Klamm