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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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“The vice-presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm piss. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.”–– John Nance Garner, vice president of the United States
FDR’s first vice president, Garner came from an era when, once safely in office, presidents didn’t rely much on their running mates.
Vice presidents really were mostly left to their prescribed constitutional duties, which consist all of, essentially, casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate and standing by to take over should their boss die in office.
That’s it, and you can see for yourself what a man used to power like Garner, a former speaker of the US House, thought of that.
It wouldn’t be for decades until a different, more muscular, vice presidency would begin to emerge.
It’s almost certain that Garner wouldn’t have believed his eyes if he had lived to watch his successors like Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden.
But Mike Pence?
Pence seems to be a vice president, oddly, who prefers the warm piss.
You have to go back at least a generation, and perhaps Dan Quayle, before you find a vice president who has been as irrelevant as Mike Pence.
Pence’s recent predecessors had their boss’ ear and had clear influence on the administration in a way Pence just hasn’t.
It’s been clear since Day One that only Donald Trump, and Trump alone, calls the shots.
Trump, by contrast, has made it clear that he’s never been 100 percent happy with his choice of Pence.
He chose Pence largely to win votes from Evangelicals, but Pence has made almost no impression on the administration since. (And Trump probably would have won the Evangelical vote even without Pence.)
Indeed, Pence became a subject of mockery by the late-night comedians back in late 2018 after an Oval Office photo op featuring Trump, Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and then-House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi on the eve of the federal government shutdown.
The photo op quickly turned into a raucous and disagreeable encounter, with Trump, Schumer and Pelosi all trying to make their points loudly and with various hand gestures.
Except for Mike Pence, who sat there, silently and stone-still, as if he were trying to blend in with the furniture.
The whispers persist that Trump is considering dumping Pence off the ticket for the attempt at re-election, with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley as a top contender as a replacement.
But the bigger question might be, if Mike Pence, were to go: would anybody miss him once he was gone?
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