A week is a long time in politics, as the saying goes. Just look at Vice President Joe Biden. One day he is correcting one of the gaffes for which he is so well known, and the next he is seen as a genuine contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Indeed, in recent weeks, Biden has had a string of high profile assignments — most notably reaching a deal with congressional Republicans to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and heading the president's task force on gun regulation — that have demonstrated his political strength.
"In the last month or so, much of the discussion has focused on his accomplishments," says Professor Joel K. Goldstein, an authority on the vice presidency, in an interview with Newsmax.
"The fiscal cliff negotiation was almost like a Kirk Gibson moment, like coming off the bench at the end and bringing it together," he continues.
"The president and the Republicans wanted him involved. They felt he had the relationships and the understanding of how to get an agreement. He displayed the political skills necessary to make the system work and vanishing attributes that you don¹t see that much anymore." Biden¹s ability to let loose in public, as he did during Congress' swearing in ceremony, is in sharp contrast to Obama's cool, collected demeanor.
And during Monday's inaugural parade, Biden stepped out of line, literally, to shake hands and hug people in the crowd, while the president did not.
"He really is a practitioner of old retail politics, one on one, that you end up having to do a lot of in Iowa and New Hampshire," says Goldstein.
Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden aide who was appointed to his U.S. Senate seat to fill out Biden's term, said, "What's great about this last series of stories is that people get to see what people in Delaware saw all those years, why he was reelected seven times."
Biden, who launched two unsuccessful bids for the White House, was a member of the Senate from January 1973 until his resignation in January 2009, following his election to the number two job.
At the time, he was the fourth most senior senator and the 15th longest serving senator in history.
Throughout his tenure, in fact, Biden has shown an ability to cut deals. Republican Sens. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Jesse Helms of North Carolina both requested in their wills that Biden give a eulogy at their funerals.
If Biden did mount a third bid for the presidency in 2016, he would be 74.
Ronald Reagan is thus far the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency; he was 69.
"His age will be one of the things that will raise questions, but by the same token when Senator Dole ran in 1996, Senator McCain ran in 2008, and President Reagan ran in 1984, they were essentially the same age that Biden will be," says Goldstein.
"You also have Donald Rumsfeld, who was Defense Secretary at an older age, and Justice Stevens left the Supreme Court at 90," he adds. "People have performed useful public service at older ages then they used to. The precedents show it's not out of line."
Other issues in how Biden is regarded in 2016, says Goldstein, will be the popularity of the second Obama administration and whether Hillary Clinton decides to run.
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