In that regard, the just-released profile of the vice president by the New Yorker's Evan Osnos doesn't disappoint. The piece includes a bewitching account of a 2011 meeting between Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
To illustrate his emphasis on personality as a factor in foreign affairs, Biden recalled visiting Putin at the Kremlin in 2011: “I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him.” Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. “I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’ ”
“You said that?” I asked. It sounded like a movie line.
“Absolutely, positively,” Biden said, and continued, “And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’ ” Biden sat back, and said, “This is who this guy is!”
Biden's remark was, of course, a reference to George W. Bush, who once said he looked in Putin's eye and was "able to get a sense of his soul."
It's a pretty amusing story, for sure, but in the annals of great interactions between Putin and American politicians, it's got nothing on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-CA) arm wrestling showdown with the Russian autocrat.
"And he's a little guy but boy I tell ya -- he put me down in a millisecond," Rohrabacher said of Putin last year. "He is tough! He just - muscles were just unbelievable."