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The Biden Factor

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Biden Factor"

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Good Newsweek piece by Katie Connolly looks at how liberals learned to love Joe Biden and quotes me a couple of times:

Yglesias notes that the declining salience of foreign-policy issues—such as Iraq, which was once a liberal rallying cry—has helped assuage liberal concerns over Biden’s historically aggressive approach to foreign policy, which, at the height of the Iraq War, earned him scorn from the left. Reports that Biden was skeptical of the Afghan surge bolstered good will among liberals, while his reluctance to publicly voice his worries about the surge confirmed his status as a loyal, supportive member of the Obama team.

Biden has been the administration’s point man on the Recovery Act, successfully leveraging his Everyman sensibility to promote its positive impact on middle- and working-class communities. Biden has taken his trademark pearly-white smile and hearty back-slapping energy to schools, factories, and town halls across the country to tout tax benefits, roads, jobs, grants, and even vaccination programs, all the while doing what he does best: making sure his message resonates with everyday folks. Although the Recovery Act remains contentious in some circles, Biden’s steadfast commitment to it has raised his stock with liberals, who, as Yglesias points out “remain very enthusiastic” about the act.

To restate what I said to Connolly, I think this phenomenon is quite real but it should also be seen as a deliberate result of the administration’s communications strategy. Biden has been very self-consciously positioned as progressives’ special friend among high-level Obama administration officials.

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