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The Next D.C. Power Brokers: Who’ll Replace This Obama Team?

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
December 3, 2011
The Daily Beast


It's not too soon to start cozying up to the future stars who will hold the glamour power positions in Washington after next November's elections. It's time to stop saying unkind things about those with prospects, even in private. All this good behavior and restraint makes for boring conversations. But business is business. Already, speculations are whispered about the next bunch of winners and losers, all below the radar to be sure. Yes, it is necessary to pay attention to the obvious choices who sometimes, only sometimes, land the predicted jobs. But turn on the radar for the over-the-horizon surprises that inevitably materialize. Be creative, starting at the top of the ladder.

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Sure, it's almost certain Barack Obama will run again and maybe even win. But what if the economy really takes another dip, despite Friday's announcement that unemployment has come down? And what if he starts to do really terribly in the polls against one of the powerhouse Republican candidates like Mitt Romney or mighty Newt Gingrich? He might just decide to go back to Chicago Law School, in which case, the Democrats have a terrific candidate staring them in the face: Joseph Biden.

Biden has done a magnificent job as the veep. He's probably handled the negotiations with Republicans over the economy and federal budget better than the president himself. He certainly talks more plainly and effectively to the public than Obama. On foreign policy, Obama would have saved himself a lot of grief had he followed Biden's advice on many occasions. In particular, a year ago, Biden urged the president to adopt an antiterrorist strategy in Afghanistan rather than pursuing the fruitless and high-troop-level counterinsurgency strategy. Biden would be a very strong candidate against any Republican and wouldn't carry much of Obama's baggage.

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