Lion of the Blogosphere

About Vice Presidents

I wrote this in January, 2012:

As you should know, the Vice President doesn’t do anything important, and certainly has no say over policy decisions, unless the President dies while in office. Otherwise, all he does is go to funerals. According to my reading of the Constitution, the Vice President is supposed to be like a 101st Senator, but all modern VPs seem to ignore that role and only head over to the Senate if they need to break a tie. Theoretically, the VP could break a tie in the opposite direction that the President wants him to, but when was the last time that happened?

The last time a President died in office was in 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated, so the Vice President doesn’t get to take over very often. [A vice president hasn’t taken over during my lifetime.]

Given that the Vice President’s job isn’t very important, people seem to make a big deal about who the presidential nominee selects for the job. There is one theory that a candidate should select a VP who can help carry a key state which the presidential candidate by himself would otherwise not have carried. However, there is little evidence that this has made a difference in any recent elections. In the election of 1992, Bush carried Indiana, Dan Quayle’s home state, and Clinton carried Tennessee, Al Gore’s home state. However, in 1996, Dole still carried Indiana without Dan Quayle, and in 2000, Al Gore wasn’t even able to win his own home state of Tennessee! The conclusion therefore is that Bush and Clinton would have won Indiana and Tennessee respectively even if they had different running mates. Furthermore, in both the 1992 and 1996 elections, Clinton has such a large margin of victory that he would have still clobbered his opponent even without Tennessee.

Other than the key state angle, I think that the best advice for selecting a VP is to select one who will do no harm. There is a lot more evidence of VP’s hurting their ticket than there is of them bringing in extra votes. The three worst VP picks during the last thirty years were Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Dan Quayle in 1988, and Sarah Palin in 2008. All three of these worst VP picks lacked gravitas. Voters couldn’t imagine them being ready to take over in case the President died.

I think that Pence has a lot of gravitas and people can imagine him being ready to take over if Trump dies in office. So he’s a good pick. Also, unlike in almost all previous elections, this year Trump really did need to convince the base that it’s OK to vote for him, and Pence helps with that.

Romney ignored my advice and picked a Paul Ryan, a running mate without gravitas. Paul Ryan, especially four years ago, looked like a little kid and not someone who was ready to take over if Romney died.

* * *

Tamir writes:

[A vice president hasn’t taken over during my lifetime.] – you mean an elected VP. Gerald Ford was VP who became pres when Nixon resigned

Wow, how could I forget about Nixon and Ford? However, since Spirew Agnew never became anything, it sort of proves the point about the VP presented to the voters not being important.

(Note that I have no direct memories of Nixon being president because little kids don’t follow the news. The only news event I remember from the early 1970s is the last Apollo mission. I was five and a half years old, and I hazily remember all of the adults watching it on TV. Black and white TVs. But it’s a very vague and fuzzy memory, almost like a dream rather than a memory. I remember absolutely nothing about Nixon or Watergate or the Vietnam War. I do remember President Ford.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 21, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Politics

17 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Isn’t Pence too much of a prole goober? He should have been replaced for eating at Chili’s.


    July 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    • Bill Clinton used to eat at McDonalds.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 21, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      • Yeah, but that’s like having a Coke or a hot dog at the ball game or popcorn at the movies. It’s a classic, and a classic indulgence.


        July 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      • “Yeah, but that’s like having a Coke or a hot dog at the ball game or popcorn at the movies. It’s a classic, and a classic indulgence.”

        lol @ rationalizing your own flawed logic against a good counter point

        james n.s.w

        July 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    • The weirdest thing about that Pence Chili’s photo was that he was with his wife and daughter and I could hardly tell which was which. Which says nothing good about his daughter or his wife.


      July 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

  2. Romney ignored my advice and picked a Paul Ryan, a running mate without gravitas.

    Paul Ryan could’ve had the gravitas of 12 black holes and it still wouldn’t have helped overcome Romney’s bumbling and fear of running a real campaign.


    July 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    • But he didn’t. And he got his ass handed to him by Biden – who is, as we all know, a barely sentient potato.


      July 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

  3. [A vice president hasn’t taken over during my lifetime.] – you mean an elected VP. Gerals Ford was VP who became pres when Nixon resigned


    July 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    • I was going to mention Gerald Ford, but that was 1974, 42 years ago. I suspect that is also before the Lion was born.


      July 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      • na. The lion’s older than that


        July 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

  4. Paul Ryan was a sop to conservatives who felt Romney was too moderate. It wouldn’t work this time. Ryan’s reputation has taken a real hit with conservatives.

    Mike Street Station

    July 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

  5. Dick Cheney never read your memo about the role of a VP. He was too busy telling the president what to do.

    ice hole

    July 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

  6. Nixon used to joke that Agnew was assassination insurance because any assassin would have to be out of his mind to kill him (Nixon) knowing that Agnew would take over. But the history of American presidential assassins demonstrates that every single assassin or would be assassin was out of his or her mind to some degree.


    July 21, 2016 at 5:06 pm

  7. I am around your age Lion. I remember hearing about Nixon/Watergate from “In the News” with Christopher Glenn that interrupted my Saturday morning cartoons.

    The first election I followed was 1976. Our grade school (in an affluent suburban area) had a mock election and Ford won in a landslide. My schoolmates and I were stunned when Carter won the real election.

    Jay Fink

    July 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm

  8. We all know now much you hate Sarah Palin but she injected some much-needed excitement into the McCain campaign. Of course, she hadn’t a clue how to deal with the vicious media, and the feckless RNC hung her out to dry.

    Ripple Earthdevil

    July 21, 2016 at 7:15 pm

  9. I’m 50 and can recall my leftist mother propping me up in front of the set while Sam Irwin led the charge against team Nixon. She loved old Sam

    K.l. Asher

    July 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: