Is the Vice Presidency an Irrelevant Position?

“Who am I? Why am I here?” asked Admiral James Stockdale, one-time running mate to Ross Perot, in a famous 1992 vice presidential debate. The admiral’s remarks garnered ridicule from the public, but recently acclaimed political journalist and author Jules Witcover has asked the same questions about the vice presidential role itself: Just what does the vice president do and why does it matter?

  • Hard Little Machine

    I can imagine MSNBC telling us that the VP job because Obama is a divine immortal hypergod who will rule for eternity.

  • winniec

    The US VP has many functions performed by Canada’s G-G, however, the G-G is head of the armed forces and head of state and can call an election to quickly solve a constitutional crisis…just like a fire extinguisher putting out a kitchen fire. The US VP is the assurance of continuity if the president dies suddenly or is forced to resign as Nixon did. That’s because they have to finish the term, rather than have a new election. The VP gives the president another opinion or support on all his considerations. The VP is one of the few people who can just walk into the president’s office unannounced.

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    This is why we have Vice Presidents, and for breaking tie votes in the Senate. All other reason are just talk.

    John Tyler, 1841 — Presidential death
    Millard Fillmore, 1850 — Presidential death
    Andrew Johnson, 1865 — Presidential death
    Chester Arthur, 1881 — Presidential death
    Theodore Roosevelt, 1901 — Presidential death
    Calvin Coolidge, 1923 — Presidential death
    Harry Truman, 1945 — Presidential death
    Lyndon Johnson, 1963 — Presidential death
    Gerald Ford, 1974 — Presidential resignation.

    • I like Truman and Teddy!

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        They are good examples of good presidents that could never have been first elected in their own right.

  • simus1

    Vice Presidents in the USA (presidents in waiting, still obliged to keep using training wheels until the president of the day decides otherwise), are most often chosen to assist the president in areas where he lacks much traction or knowledge, the innermost back rooms of Washington’s great political puzzle palace trading floor. As confidence in a VP’s ability and discretion grows, he can take on ever more sensitive official/unofficial assignments for the president in almost any area.

    • Joe Biden?

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        Was chosen as assassination insurance for Obama.

  • G

    “…recently acclaimed political journalist…”

    Are there any NON “acclaimed journalists”?

    Being an award winning or acclaimed journalist is about as difficult as getting a “participation” button in a grade 1 track & field meet.
    These self important dicks throw awards around like confetti. These loser simps need to have their egos stroked so often I’m certain they receive trophies with each pay stub.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    The more recent vice-presidents took an active role in the administration. See Dick Cheney and Bush the Elder. Earlier one were chosen as vote getters and ticket balancers. Woodrow Wilson’s vice-president Thomas Marshall made his mark on history by declaring, “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” FDR’s first vice-president John N. Garner said that his position “… isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”

    • Minicapt

      Garner said “piss”.