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'Regular Joe' plays a key White House role

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In fact, Biden is probably the first vice president in history who seeks to reduce the power of his office – not because he doesn’t want influence, but because he sees Cheney’s handling of the job as counterproductive.

Before taking office, Biden told The New York Times he wants to “restore the balance” in the vice president’s role.

“The only value of power is the effect, the efficacy of its use,” Biden said. “And all the power Cheney had did not result in effective outcomes.”

Last fall, before the election, Biden told The New Yorker that the best model for him would be President Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson – that is, an experienced Senate man (serving a young president) who would maintain his close ties to Capitol Hill from the White House. The comment struck Joel Goldstein, a scholar on the vice presidency at St. Louis University, as odd, since Johnson was “miserable” as vice president, Professor Goldstein says.

The name that comes up more frequently as a model is Walter Mondale, President Carter’s vice president, now seen as the first “modern” vice president. Mr. Mondale introduced the concept of vice president as across-the-board adviser, not one who could be sidetracked with boutique projects. Mondale also started the ritual of the weekly lunch with the president, which continues to this day. Biden spoke with Mondale before taking office.

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