The big political winner these last couple of weeks? No doubt about it: Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
That's right, he may sound like your crazy, drunk uncle with hair plugs who always overstays his visits, wears white patent-leather shoes and drives an RV. Throughout the years, he may have been 100 percent wrong about everything in his area of greatest expertise, foreign policy. And everyone groans when he starts talking.
But in this town, among this crowd, Mr. Biden is riding the sunny crest of a wave. His prospects for the presidency in 2016 have never been better.
President Obama has flown to New Jersey to sift through the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy in search of his lost "mojo" alongside Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Well, he won't find it there.
That's because Mr. Biden has stolen it and he's jet-setting all around South America like he's already president — all statesmanlike and meeting with the leaders of other countries, sharpening his presidential chops and standing in line to let the world kiss the ring before he assumes the throne.
Who is "The One" now?
It was sad, really, watching Mr. Obama wander up a Jersey shore boardwalk overshadowed by the titanic Republican governor and playing arcade games. Even at a football-throwing contest, Mr. Christie beat Mr. Obama badly, scoring on his first try. Mr. Obama went 0 for 5.
Beaten at an athletic endeavor by the fat guy? Wow.
It was so pathetic that even the dude running the arcade booth felt sorry for the president and gave him a teddy bear for losing.
Mr. Biden's stock is not rising just because he's stolen Mr. Obama's mojo. It's also on the rise because his chief rival for 2016 has gotten herself fairly well smeared in one of the many scandals swirling around Mr. Obama.
We now know just how badly Hillary Rodham Clinton bungled the terrorist attack in Benghazi on last year's anniversary of 9/11 while secretary of state. How ill-prepared the State Department was and how it failed to respond to the attack before so many people were killed. Then poor Ambassador to the U.N. Susan E. Rice got sent out to tell all those lies about it. Now, lying may be every other rule in the Clinton playbook, but if you can get somebody else to go out and lie for you, it's all the better.
What is really amazing is that with all the scandals, Mr. Biden just might be the only person in the entire administration that wasn't involved in any part of a single one of them. That is because even the Obama administration realizes how important it is to keep Mr. Biden away from anything serious.
He wasn't in on the Benghazi disaster because he long ago proved himself to be a blithering buffoon on foreign policy. Anyone remember the great Biden effort to break Iraq up into three countries?
He was on the wrong side of every vote regarding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he was the highest ranking official advising the president not to approve the SEAL mission that got Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Biden wasn't involved with the IRS scandal, either. That's because the IRS is where the money comes in. Mr. Obama might josh around here and there on politics, stimulus and sequester, but when it comes to his money coming in, he plays for keeps.
And in the creepiest scandal of all — the Obama administration's spying on reporters and their parents over national security leaks — Mr. Biden's fingerprints are nowhere to be found. That's because one of the truest truisms in Washington is that Joe Biden leaks more than your grandmother's rusty old colander, so even this crowd keeps him far, far away from any national secrets.
Here in Washington, it sometimes pays to be stupid and left out of the loop.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.