Former President George W. Bush famously said in 2001 that he had looked at then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin‘s eyes and “was able to get a sense of his soul.” Vice President Joe Biden apparently never got that sense.
In a lengthy new magazine profile, Biden recalls a 2011 encounter he had with Putin. “I had an interpreter,” Biden told the New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos, “and when he (Putin) was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed.”
Biden continued, “As I turned, I was this close to him. I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’”
According to Biden, Putin smiled and said, “We understand one another.”
That claim is corroborated by a 2011 report The Moscow Times.
The New Yorker piece is largely a look at Biden’s experience as the No. 2 guy in the White House and his relationship with President Barack Obama. But there are some newsy nuggets peppered throughout.
Biden is described as holding some resentment for his public image as an inappropriately un-self aware “Uncle Joe.” Even so, he says he hasn’t made up his mind on whether to run for president in 2016. He gave a timeline for when he’ll make the decision. (“Somewhere between a day and six or eight months after the congressional elections . . . it will be the issue, whether I’m in it or not.”)
“I can hardly wait—either in a Presidential campaign or when I’m out of here—to debate Bob Gates,” Biden is quoted as saying. “Oh, Jesus.”
In his book, Gates said that Biden is “impossible not to like” but “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
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