Second-Guessing The No. 2 Spot

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The great edifice that is the United States Constitution has always had eccentricities, wobbly parts, some joists held together with duct tape. From one edge juts a curious protrusion, an architectural afterthought. It is called the vice presidency.

The Framers didn't know what to do with the backup executive. He was conjured very late in the summer of 1787, as the Constitutional Convention was winding down. He had no power at all, initially -- he was just a body, a seat-warmer, ready to step forward if the president were impeached or keeled over. Eventually the Framers gave him a busywork job:

"The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote" -- you can see them winging it here -- "unless they be equally divided."

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