When, almost exactly a year ago, President Obama introduced Joe Biden as the head of a new Middle Class Task Force, there was snickering in political circles about how the assignment smelled like makework--an elaborate effort by the Obamaites to keep the uncontrollable VP harmlessly occupied. 

For the next 12 months, the task force largely vanished from view, its monthly meetings and other actitives drawing little public attention.

This week, Joe and his task force are back in the spotlight. As part of Obama's post-Massachusetts scramble to reassure Americans that he does in fact feel their pain, the president and vice president convened a meeting of the task force today, at which they previewed a few initiatives they're working on to aid middle class and working families. It is a theme to be echoed in Obama's State of the Union address on Wednesday.

Having Obama and Biden cuddle for the cameras is all well and good. But going foward I'll be interested to see if the VP is individually deployed to talk up how committed this administration is (and always has been!) to helping economically struggling Americans. Whatever his flaws, Biden has more of a common touch than Obama (not to mention most White House seniors aides) and can do that whole regular-guy, populist thing quite convincingly.

Then again, now would be a disastrous time for one of those legendary Biden gaffes.