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Last week was a near perfect encapsulation of the venerable American institution that is Joe Biden. We saw the bighearted, plainspoken statesman; the emotional, avuncular politician; and the cringe-inducing guy who sometimes overdoes it or just plain steps in it. On Wednesday, in Boston, the vice president pitched his “moonshot” to cure cancer to healthcare professionals, saying, “We’re on the cusp of enormous, enormous progress.”
Joe Biden is now the vice president who will not be president. He’s been VP for seven and a half years, preceded by decades of work on U.S. foreign policy in the Senate, but the question remains whether he is distinctive in any memorable way for his work in international affairs. Was he simply a glad-handing flack pushing the Obama agenda, a manic schmoozer of foreign leaders? A gaffe-prone foreign-policy dilettante who, in the long run, won’t matter?
Biden puts some people off. His critics argue that despite his passion for worthy causes-from efforts to stabilize Iraq to the “cancer moonshot” to his task force devoted to “a strong middle class“-his bouts of imprecision and occasional foot-in-mouth foibles get in the way. An adviser to retired General Stanley McChrystal reportedly referred to Biden as “Bite Me.” Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates wrote in his memoir, Duty, that Biden has been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
That hasn’t been my observation. I have traveled with Biden during his vice presidential tenure to Asia and Europe, watched him interact with foreign leaders abroad and at home, and have had wide-ranging discussions with him since his Senate days on everything from the confirmation battle over John Bolton’s nomination as U.N. ambassador to how the U.S. should approach its challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan. I haven’t always agreed with Biden’s positions, but those positions have tended to follow a pattern and demonstrate a consistency of approach, analysis, and engagement that stands out-particularly when compared with many other foreign-policy players who often don’t leave clear footprints.
“We are stronger and more secure today than when President Barack Obama and I took office in January 2009,” writes Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. in a special pre-released essay from the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, “Building on Success: Opportunities for the Next Administration.”
Biden makes the case for continued engagement in the world, warning that “It is worth remembering that our indispensable role in the world is not inevitable. If the next administration chooses to turn inward, it could very well squander the hard-earned progress we’ve made not just over the past seven and a half years but also over the past seven decades.”
The vice president focuses on “four tasks that loom large: seizing transformative opportunities on both sides of the Pacific, managing relations with regional powers, leading the world to address complex transnational challenges, and defeating violent extremism.”
Biden notes that because Asia is home to half the world’s population, “we simply cannot afford to ignore the economic opportunities there. That’s why securing the Trans-Pacific Partnership remains a top priority.” He continues: “The next administration will have to steer a relationship with China that encompasses both breakthrough cooperation and, potentially, intensified competition. And sometimes, as when facing the mounting threat from North Korea, cooperation and competition with China will coexist.”
While he contends terrorism and violent extremism are “the most vexing example of a virulent transnational danger that demands sustained U.S. leadership,” Biden insists that “ISIS is losing.” But, he maintains, “even when ISIS’ would-be caliphate is destroyed, the jihadist challenge will continue.” He argues for a comprehensive campaign carried out in a manner that keeps the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims on the U.S. side. “America’s greatest strength is not the example of our power but the power of our example. More than anything, it is our adherence to our values and our commitment to tolerance that sets us apart from other great powers.”
He concludes, “Because of the actions we’ve taken and the boundless energy and resilience of the American people, I’ve never been more optimistic about our capacity to guide the international community to a more peaceful and prosperous future.”
“When you speak up, you change the terms of the debate.”
DAVOS, Switzerland — Vice President Joe Biden got visibly heated while discussing the importance of LGBT rights on Wednesday.
Speaking at an LGBT rights roundtable at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Veep lamented that openly gay and transgender people are still treated like second class citizens around the world.
NEW ORLEANS — Vice President Biden called on the nation’s leading cancer researchers to accelerate progress in the fight against the disease by sharply boosting collaborations and data sharing and by giving him advice on how to make the federal government a forceful ally in the anti-cancer effort.
“I have the authority to do everything I can to put the federal government in a position where it’s total value-added and it doesn’t get in your way,” the vice president told thousands of scientists gathered at the annual conference of the American Association for Cancer Research. “But you have to tell me how.”
Vice President Joe Biden conferred with cancer researchers in Philadelphia on Friday, chairing his first high-level meeting since adopting the cause of curing the disease as his personal mission in the Obama administration’s fourth quarter.
Few dispute the worthiness of the goal. But experts say that to really make a difference, Biden will have to overcome the grandiose “moon shot” expectations he created for himself and continue the effort far past the end of his term.
Nothing mattered more to my husband, Beau, than protecting Delaware’s children.
He knew it wasn’t an issue many people liked to discuss, but Beau knew how important it was to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Beau Biden made keeping children safe from abuse his life’s work.