The bitter partisan divide in Congress was on full display this week, when retiring secretary of state Hillary Clinton appeared before Senate and House committees investigating the tragic loss of American lives during the attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
Some Republicans went beyond the posing of pertinent questions -- to the disrespectful mouthing of disparaging remarks. Most Democrats, on the other hand, went beyond effusive praise -- to openly indicate their support for a Hillary Clinton run for the White House four years from now.
The secretary's impressive performance served to reinforce her stature as someone qualified to be President., And her skillful handling of a difficult situation further solidified her status as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination next time around -- should she choose to run.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is dropping not-so-subtle hints that he may throw his hat in the ring, and seek the nomination. His suggestive, and yet non-commital recent remarks are all the more interesting in light of the attention he paid to the New Hampshire governor, and Iowa Democratic party leaders, during inauguration weekend. These folks, coincidentally, hail from the states that will kick off primary season in 2016.
Joe Biden has been, arguably, the best, or at least one of the best, vice presidents in modern American history. His recent efforts in helping us get beyond -- at least for now -- the fiscal cliff, and his quick work in preparing proposals for handling the gun issue have been impressive, and are reminders of the exceptional political skills he possesses.
But -- for the sake of party, and country -- Joe Biden should cancel his dreams of the Oval Office. That is not to say, however, that this second term as vice president need be the end of the line; the last stop in a distinguished career of public service. Come 2016, there are a number of ways he can continue to serve.
In the meantime, he should give up his presidential aspirations and step aside in favor of Hillary Clinton. And he should do it now, before the party faithful begin to take sides in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton/Joe Biden primary fight.
If he is immediately supportive, rather than divisive, he will provide party unity that will greatly enhance the chances of the Democratic party keeping the keys to the White House beyond the presidency of Barack Obama.
Joe Biden is a realist, and if he takes time to read the tea leaves, he will surely come to believe that Hillary Clinton is the bettter candidate. And a glance at the latest polls will tell him that the voters prefer her.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll -- only days old -- Hilary Clinton enjoys a 67 percent overall favorability rating with the American people. Joe Biden's favorability rating is 48 percent.
It could be argued that the vice president's recent successes might provde a spike in the polls. And yes, his polling number is a problem that possibly, if not probably, could be overcome. But there is another problem, another obstacle, that can not be overcome. That is his age.
Hillary Clinton is five years younger than Joe Biden. If she were to win the presidency in 2016, her age while in office would correspond roughly to that of President Ronald Reagan.
If Joe Biden were to win the presidency in 2016, he would be 74 when inaugurated, and 82 when he left office, if he served two terms. His age would certainly be a campaign issue.
Then there are the problems, the Biden baggage from the past,, which would surely be resurrected by the GOP in a general election campaign. It was those problems -- the charges of plagiarism, and the accusations of exaggerating his resume -- that forced Joe Biden to abruptly terminate a presidential bid in 1988, and quite possibly were contributuing factors in his inability to get beyond the Iowa caucuses during his brief presidential run in 2008.
All things considered, Joe Biden should remain the team player, the loyal soldier he has always been, by removing himself from the realm of presidential speculation.
But if he does, what then? If Democrats hold on to the White House beyond the presidency of Barack Obama, is there a place of prominence, of importance, for Joe Biden?
There are any number of positions in the federal government where Joe Biden's experience and expertise would make him a good fit; but after decades of outstanding service in the U.S. Senate, including time as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; followed by eight years on the world stage as America's second in command, Joe Biden would be an excellent choice for Secretary of State.