Amy C. Gaudion and Douglas Stuart: More Than Just a Running MateRoundup: Historians' Take
Amy C. Gaudion is assistant dean for academic affairs at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. Douglas Stuart is a professor of political science and international studies at Dickinson College and an adjunct research professor at the U.S. Army War College.
We are nearing the end of the season of the Great Mentioning, with murmurs of a vice presidential pick by Mitt Romney in the next few weeks, and possibly sooner. Will it be Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal or Rob Portman? Or maybe Condoleezza Rice, despite her consistent declarations that she has no interest? The media, and to some extent the public, are focused on who Romney will choose. A better question is: what is Romney’s vision for the office of the vice president, and how does his running mate plan to exercise the enormous powers of that office?
If you watched the recent HBO comedy series “Veep,” you might conclude that vision and expectations don’t matter because the vice president is an irrelevant player in the governing game, or relevant only for comedic purposes. Indeed, Vice President Biden has contributed from time to time to the image of the vice presidency as a source of entertainment.
The image of the vice president as comic relief is as old as the republic. The first vice president, John Adams, famously described the job as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived” while the official Senate Web site describes the vice presidency as the “least understood, most ridiculed, and most often ignored constitutional office in the federal government.”...
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