By Peter Lucass
Vice President Joe Biden is suffering from a serious case of job lock.
How else to explain his public dissatisfaction with the job of playing straight man to a president who treats him like a White House butler?
Maybe, since he does not need the job to be covered by Obamacare, the vice president might be better off quitting and devoting his time to writing poetry.
That is what Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested following release of the Congressional Budget Office report that said Obamacare will cost the nation some 2.5 million full time jobs, but that these newly unemployed will still have health insurance under the president's health-care plan.
Pelosi said one of the goals of Obamacare was to give people the freedom not to work and still have health insurance. With government health care guaranteed, people will stay home and have the "liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked but to follow their passion and to stay home and write poetry if they so desired."
Fellow Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, agreed. He said Obamacare would free people from the shackles of having a job just to get health care. "People shouldn't have job lock. We live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want," he said.
This is the perfect out for Biden. He could quit, write poetry and run for president. Being the veep under Barack Obama has always been a hassle anyway. From day one, it's always been, "Joe, get the coffee," or "Joe, get my golf clubs," or "Joe, where's the Nicorette?" or "Joe, do this," or "Joe, do that."
It gets tiresome being ordered around by a guy who is 20 years younger than you.
It doesn't seem to matter to Obama that Biden, 71, brought a lifetime of government experience to the job. Obama has never turned to him and said, "Hey, Joe, go to Kabul and give Ahmed Karzai a dope slap," or "Go tell the Iranians to stop conning us," or "Joe, go to Kiev and say we're with them until the last dog dies, or something," or "Better still, Joe, you know Vladimir. Go to Moscow and kick his ass for me. I'd do it myself, but the little guy scares me. He's so wiry."
No, it has not been like that. It's been "John Kerry this and John Kerry that" while Biden, as he told Politico in a revealing interview, has been forced to take on "every s--t job in the world."
The sad part of it all is that before becoming Obama's butler, good old Joe Biden had been in the U.S. Senate so long that tourists thought he was one of the statues in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. When, at age 29, he was first elected to the Senate in 1973, Barack Obama had not even risen to the rank of Chicago community organizer.
Still, given all the 36 years he spent in the Senate, one would have thought that Biden early on would have discovered that being vice president of the United States is usually a powerless and thankless job.
Biden was his own man in the Senate. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Heads of state called him. Now all he does is go to their funerals. Once he had an important voice in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Now his views are smothered by a president whose lack of experience and backbone in foreign affairs has become a joke.
Yet no one drafted Biden to be vice president. Biden, who twice ran unsuccessfully for president, made himself available for the job after Obama secured the 2008 Democrat Party presidential nomination.
But it makes you wonder.
Sitting in the Senate chamber all those years, Biden had the opportunity to serve with and study seven vice presidents: Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney. Surely he must have learned something about the job. Or was he asleep?
Had he studied the vice presidency, Biden would surely have come across the observations of John Nance Garner of Texas, former speaker of the U.S. House, who served two terms as vice president under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the end of his tenure, Garner, who not for nothing was known as "Cactus Jack," said of the office: "It's not worth a bucket of warm p--s."
Today it would be called job lock.
Peter Lucas' political column appears Tuesday and Friday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.