At an all-day symposium celebrating the life and legacy of former Vice President Walter Mondale, current Vice President Joe Biden made some news—probably more than he intended to. In an interesting counter-point to the enemies that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listed during the Democratic debate, Vice President Biden declared, “I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party.” As if to test that proposition, with a line many would suggest takes that idea to the limit, the vice president went on to say, “I like Dick Cheney. I think he’s a decent man.” This declaration evoked a rather spirited response from Vice President Mondale.
But the most significant news around came in the vice president’s account of the decision to attack Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Biden said that in the meeting of the president’s senior advisors, when President Obama asked Biden for his view, the vice president stalled, recommending that our aerial surveillance take another pass over the compound. The vice president said that he took that approach because he didn’t want to create a story of a possible rift between the vice president and the president, given that he did not know which way the president was actually leaning. But, Biden added, as he and the president were walking alone after the meeting, he told the president to go ahead with the raid, and that above all he should follow his own instincts.
This account stands at odds with numerous previous accounts of the meeting and the vice president’s position then and subsequently. It is likely that the vice president will be called upon to reconcile these apparently competing accounts.