“It won’t be the same without you,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., while gathering family members for the ceremonial re-enactment of his swearing-in on Tuesday.
Because the vice president’s term runs until noon on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, it is the departing Biden who got one last chance to kiss wives, hug babies, and offer dating advice on the first day of the new Congress.
Sen. Jerry Moran’s younger daughter Alex, a 26-year old veterinarian back in their home state of Kansas, might have stolen the show by being the first to request a selfie with the vice president.
Biden, being Biden, obliged in front of the dais in the historic Old Senate Chamber, where some of the nation’s great debates took place.
During a break in the activity, Biden told assembled members of the media that he found selfies to be more efficient while on the campaign trail.
The selfie craze repeated itself when Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s wife Cynthia, in earshot of a microphone, whispered to the vice president that their two children in attendance would like a selfie. Biden took a cell phone from the Connecticut Democrat’s daughter, Claire, to get a better angle.
“You’re a pro at this,” 23-year-old Claire Blumenthal told Biden between snaps. “Do you want to do a goofy one.”
“You sound like my daughter,” the vice president replied.
One of Blumenthal’s sons was among those treated to a classic Biden story.
“My dad used to say, ‘You’ve got one job’ — I have a beautiful sister like you guys — I swear to God, he used to say, ‘You’ve got one job. Keep the guys away from your sister,’” Biden said.
Biden also inexplicably said that to the husband of Moran’s veterinarian daughter.
It wasn’t just cell phones that Biden needed to hold in his duties as master of ceremonies.
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz showed up for his swearing-in without a family member to stand between him and Biden with the Bible, so Biden took it himself.
“This will be a first,” Biden said.
The afternoon started off with the swearing-in of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the most senior senator re-elected in 2016, and who happens to be the senior-most member of the entire Senate.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” the Catholic Biden greeted Rev. Claude Pomerleau, Leahy’s brother-in-law.
To which Leahy, who was elected to the Senate just after Biden in the 1970s and spent countless hours with him at the Senate Judiciary Committee, said to Pomerleau, “You’re not going to be in town long enough to hear his confession.”