White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted that in spite of the recent revelations from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates panning the expertise of Vice President Joe Biden, it was simply a result of President Obama's dedication to have a "team of rivals" in his cabinet.
"The vice president is one member and continues to be one member of that team of rivals," Carney said, asserting that Biden was not chosen by Obama "to be someone who simply affirms what others are thinking." He repeatedly cited Biden's "foreign policy experience" and said he was a "key adviser" to Obama.
Excerpts from Gates' upcoming memoir showed that the former Pentagon chief — a holdover from the Bush administration — believed Biden "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
In response, the White House called Biden “one of the leading statesmen of his time."
Obama has embraced the "team of rivals" concept, which comes from the title of a book by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln's cabinet. It's one of many ways Obama has tried to link himself to Lincoln's image as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. But there have been persistent reports — most recently in Gates' book — of how Obama's Cabinet members are often overshadowed by White House advisers whose viewpoints are closer to those of the president's.