Vice President Joe Biden arrives to a House 
Democratic caucus meeting at the Capitol on Jan. 1, 2013.
(Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Joe Biden is suddenly the most popular politician in Washington and a real contender for 2016. The latest opinion poll by Public Policy shows him running a strong second to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination.

The Irish American Vice President, widely dismissed by the haughty press corps looking for the new and the beautiful, is at the very heart of the dramatic new initiatives by the Obama administration.

In a time of electoral gridlock, Biden appears to be the one figure who can reach out to the other side and force a civil discourse.

On the fiscal cliff he galloped to the rescue and cut the deal with Senator Mitch McConnell before riding off like the Lone Ranger. Opinion polls showed the public believed by a 57 per cent to 20 per cent margin that Biden’s deal was better for Democrats than Republicans.

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Now on gun control he is defying the conventional wisdom again and getting real traction behind his recommendations which he will deliver to the president next week.

He has met with the NRA, Walmart, and every major gun constituency, forcing a dialogue where none existed before and making clear that action will be taken to prevent another Sandy Hook.

Don’t rule out the possibility of a deal that Biden can craft that the NRA can get along with, strange as that may seem.

Biden notes there appears to be a near universal belief that more background checks are needed for all gun sales.

He is determined that action will occur.

"There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action, we believe, is required," he said.

Sure the NRA said it was “disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.’’

But everything is different after Sandy Hook and Biden knows it even if the NRA does not.

He is suddenly being noticed. “These weeks can continue to set him up as one of the few who can deliver in an era when no one thinks accomplishments can happen and everyone believes Washington is broken — an appealing position to be in as he considers his future,” a Biden loyalist told the Washington Post.

Maureen Dowd in The New York Times stated, “Mr. Biden can spread everything out on the table and negotiate his way through all of his former colleagues' shortcomings, weaknesses, fears and frailties.”
In  a time when American politics is so polarized Biden has managed the extraordinary trick of being able to appear reasonable to both sides.”

Chris Cilliza, who writes the influential The Fix column for the Washington Post, wrote, “What’s apparent and indisputable over these past few weeks is that Biden has put himself at the center of the national political conversation in ways that have helped his boss but also himself.”

In this new political arena maybe a pol with old fashioned skills is what’s really needed. Joe Biden is certainly starting off 2013 on fire.

Next up, immigration reform for the miracle worker?

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