Biden says some silly things, but he’s also an experienced hand on the world stage, to the benefit of the United States. Here he is putting the Iraqi leaders at ease with his own brand of back slapping diplomacy. He seems intuitively to know how to handle the Iraqis. From the pool report:
Around 12:15 pm local time, Vice President Biden was greeted by Iraqi President Talabani in a tiny foyer at the presidential palace. VPOTUS and Talabani exchanged a kiss on each cheek. “How are you man? Good to see you,” he said. “Good to be with you,” Biden said.
Dr. Adel abd al-Mahdi and Dr. Tareq Al-Hashimi, two Iraqi vice presidents, entered from an adjoining room where the meeting is being held. “It’s good to see you,” Biden said to al-Mahdi. Then he saw Al-Hashimi and got animated. “Ah, man,” Biden said, giving Al-Hashimi big hug. “Double trouble.”
“I had a polo shirt in my bag I was going to bring it over,” Biden joked as he shook Al-Hashimi hand. “Give me a break, this is the best dressed man in the Middle East. You know what I mean? I always ask if I could borrow his clothes,” Biden continued, referring to Al-Hashimi. “I told you before if I had his hair I would be president.”
The leaders then made their way into the meeting room – check quotes against transcript. VPOTUS and Talabani, seated side-by-side in chairs, exchanged small talk. Their delegations sat on either side of them. VPOTUS was cracking the group up. Someone mentioned flowers, and he said, “I have many flowers – and a lot of weeds,” gesturing toward the American delegation seated to his right. Talabani welcomed Biden. “We remain grateful to you,” Talabani said to Biden. “You are one of our best friends… We count on you.” “And when you leave our country I know our relations will remain,” Talabani said.
He said he strives for “peace and stability” in the Middle East. Biden: “Well, Mr. President, we have one overwhelming desire. The single best thing that can happen to the United States, literally, is for you to be a free, prosperous democracy in the middle of this part of the world. It’s the single most significant strategic thing that can happen to the United States in this region.” Then he joked, gesturing toward al-Mahdi and Al-Hashimi, he said, “Even when they get mad at me, they love me.”