Joe Biden for President?
Most vice-presidents try for the top job.
Got your attention, right? Is there a buzz? Is something going on?
I don’t have a clue and I am not going to discuss the pros and cons of a Biden candidacy in this column. Suffice it to say that I have very little to say and will not speculate.
But I want to make one very interesting point about vice presidents and the presidency.
In the past 70 years we have had 13 Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama. Most of their vice presidents have either become president or run for president, or both.
[GALLERY: Barack Obama Cartoons]
We had both Henry Wallace and Harry Truman under FDR, Richard Nixon under Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson under John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey under LBJ, Gerald Ford under Nixon, Walter Mondale under Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush under Ronald Reagan and Al Gore under Bill Clinton. And even Bush veep Dan Quayle ran briefly for president.
So, who are we leaving out? Which vice presidents did not run for if not become president?
Over the course of 13 presidents only four of their number-twos did not choose to run or get to serve.
We can start with Alben W. Barkley, Harry Truman’s vice president, who was 75 years old at the end of 1952. We next have Nelson Rockefeller who was appointed vice president under Gerald Ford, after Nixon resigned, and was not a candidate. And, most recently, we have the unelectable Dick Cheney.
Of course, who could forget Spiro Agnew – but who could also forget he resigned in disgrace.
[SEE: Democrat Cartoons]
The very basic point I am making is that there is a prevailing inclination of vice presidents to believe that they would make very good presidents – and they often have the skills, the experience, the drive and the organizational heft to wage a solid campaign.
More and more, vice presidents, like Joe Biden, have played essential roles in governing the country. They are not spending their time at ribbon cuttings but at the center of making policy.
No longer do we accept the statement by John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt’s first vice president and the 32nd man to hold the office, that “the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit” (actually, he referred to a different bodily fluid but it got changed in subsequent repetition to the more family-friendly euphemism).
Bottom line: it is highly unusual in modern American history for the vice president not to strive for the highest office. No predictions, just a little historical perspective!