New York Times’s White House reporter Mark Landler provided puffball coverage of Vice President Joe Biden, who has evidently “overcome his reputation for gaffes” (says who?), in “Obama’s Growing Trust in Biden Is Reflected in His Call on Troops” Saturday. Landler emphasized the increasing confidence Biden is inspiring at the White House. The text box reads: “A bond develops between men who had been friendly rivals.”
Landler opened with an anecdote of Biden being impressive.
As President Obama began mulling his next big decision on troop levels in Afghanistan last January, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. quietly flew to Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai and tour the battlefield with the top American commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
At a military base in Wardak Province, where the Taliban continue to pose a security threat, Mr. Biden listened with bewilderment as an American civilian told him about plans to dig a well in a nearby village. “Why do they need a well?” he asked, according to a person who was there.
Convinced he was seeing mission creep, Mr. Biden came home and pressed the president on a point he had making since the first troop debate in 2009: the United States needed to stop nation-building in Afghanistan. The military, he argued, was going beyond Mr. Obama’s goals of defeating Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from toppling the Afghan government and improving security.
In ordering the withdrawal of 30,000 troops by next summer, Mr. Obama finally sided with Mr. Biden. While the decision has drawn criticism from those who say it is a rush for the exits, it shows the growing trust the president has placed in his vice president -- an outcome many would not have predicted when Mr. Obama chose the garrulous senator, now 68, as his running mate.
“They began as friendly rivals,” said David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to Mr. Obama, recalling the primary. “But the relationship has been forged in the fires of many tests. There’s a real bond between them.”
While Mr. Biden has overcome his reputation for gaffes and administration officials no longer roll their eyes at his loquaciousness, his public statements still go further than those of his buttoned-down boss.
After relaying criticism of “Mr. Biden’s ultimate vision for Afghanistan,” a minimalist one, Landler described Biden as a “devout Catholic,” just as the Times recently called another pro-choice Democrat, special election winner Kathy Hochul. Apparently it's acceptable, even helpful, for Democrats to be religious, unlike the conservative Christians the Times has been warning its readers about for years.
A devout Catholic, Mr. Biden fingered a rosary ring in the White House Situation Room during the raid. When he tucked it away in his wallet, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, jokingly suggested that might be premature, gesturing to the rosary ring that he had pulled out of his own pocket, according to an aide.