Serving as second-in-command precisely in the manner he and Obama discussed before he accepted the position. Involved in major decisions, carrying water on Capitol Hill, fulfilling difficult foreign policy tasks, reaching out to constituencies for which he has great instincts and offering rigorous private advice when he believes he knows better. (And admirably staying on message and on the reservation when he doesn't get his way.) For many observers, part of a White House tableau of family values, purposeful diligence and middle-class championing. Still susceptible to the lance of late-night comics owing more to the unshakable encumbrance of the office he holds and the reputation he brought with him than for any missteps as Vice President.