You know your image management has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way when, as vice president of the United States, you’re not even considered worth killing by al Qaeda. Such is the ongoing indignity of being Joe Biden.
This week, West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center released a batch of translated, declassified documents. seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Spanning from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2011, the 17 documents are letters between al Qaeda members musing about everything from PR strategies to leadership structures to promising new jihad projects.
In a May 2010 missive to Shaykh Mahmud `Atiyya (SOCOM-2012-0000019-HT), bin Laden inquired about what progress had been made toward establishing two groups, one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan, specifically tasked with looking for opportunities to assassinate President Obama. He reasoned:
“Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there. Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the US into a crisis.”
Yowza. It’s one thing to have the Republican opposition deriding you as a buffoon or certain members of your own party grumbling that maybe you should be bumped from the ticket. But when the world’s most famous terrorist is plotting to bring down America by putting you in charge? That’s just cold.
Bin Laden’s slam is particularly harsh considering that, as VPs go, Biden is as well, if not better, suited to take over the big chair than most. Dan Quayle? Walter Mondale? Dick Cheney? Sure, Cheney had the foreign policy chops. But in the opinion of many Americans, the guy was, dispositionally speaking, an apocalypse waiting to happen. Scary and uber-hawkish in a way that made even many Republicans nervous, Cheney didn’t leave office with the nickname Darth Vader and a 13 percent approval rating for nothing.
In matters of foreign policy, Biden has vastly more knowledge and experience than Obama. He also has a much stronger history and better working relationships with pols down on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. He relates well to blue-collar America, and he enjoys the rough-and-tumble aspects of politics—a valuable asset in the current climate.
Admittedly, the veep has his flaws. He talks too much, he says stupid things, and he behaves at times like a complete goofball. Despite spending basically his entire adult life in electoral politics, Biden has somehow failed to develop the sort of filter that would stop most prominent pols from faking an Indian accent when giving a speech about the outsourcing of call centers. Did I mention that he talks too much?
All of this is what Biden’s colleagues refer to as “Joe being Joe.” No question he’s a character; at times an extremely problematic one. But to pointedly be left off al Qaeda’s hit list? That’s just one insult too far.