He might never be president, but he’ll always be the honorary first black vice president.
Vice President Joe Biden made headlines twice yesterday.
He told ABC’s Barbara Walters that he won’t be standing down in the 2016 White House race, even if Hillary Clinton jumps in, saying that “Whether she runs or not will not affect my decision.” And that’s—as Biden might say—a pretty “gutsy” call.
On a lighter note, at a Black History Month event Tuesday night, Biden joked with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson—a former NBA all-star—that “I may be a white boy, but I can jump.”
And as the vice president also might say, “God love him.”
Because even if the election of President Barack Obama didn’t wind up ushering in a “post-racial” era in American politics, what it did bring about, as I wrote a couple of years back, was a sort of post-racial vice presidency. Biden might never actually make it to the Oval Office himself, but he’ll always be remembered in black history as the honorary first African-American VP.
He’s got Obama’s back. Obama had Biden’s back, picking him as his running mate even after Biden gaffed that the then-new-on-the-scene Obama was “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” to run for president.
He might be more comfortable around black folks than Obama. Obama’s had a few rocky moments with black audiences, like his poorly received “put on your marching shoes” riff at 2011’s Congressional Black Caucus weekend.
This administration has the FLOTUS-SLOTUS connection. Plus, there’s the warm relationship between first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. They’ve worked side by side to bring attention to the challenges of military families—and they just look like they have a really good time hanging out together
Biden has the Vegas factor. And if you want someone to make a “gutsy” call on sending Navy SEALs across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to take out Osama bin Laden, then Obama’s your guy.
He’s a nonstop gaffe machine, but everyone—not just black folks—loves Uncle Joe.
Being the first VPOTUS for the nation’s first African-American POTUS wasn’t an easy assignment—and it won’t be easy to be the first white president to follow Obama.
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.