“[The Vice Presidency] is the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”John Adams

Its powerlessness was a staple of Washington humor:  everyone in the capital, it seemed, knew the joke about the unfortunate mother who had two sons who were never heard from again:  one was lost at sea, and the other became Vice President.

There is one good thing about this apparently insignificant public official:  “Power is where the power goes”.  It’s only a “heartbeat” away from the Presidency.  If something happens to number One, then number Two leaps to become number One.

The Constitution of the United States says that the Vice President shall preside over the Senate, “but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.” It says that in case of the President’s “death, resignation or inability to discharge the powers and duties of said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President.”

With the exception of his ability to cast a vote to break a tie in the Senate, the document that created the office attached to it, not a single specific power.

LBJ was fully aware of this political fact when he accepted the nomination to become the running mate of JFK.  Fate made the equation work and he indeed became the 36th President of the United States.  Since he was a kid at school, he continuously boasted that someday he would become the President of the United States, and through a trick of Destiny, he did.

Source:  “The Years of Lyndon Johnson:  The Passage of Power” authored by Robert A. Caro


6 thoughts on “Quotations”

  1. John Nance Garner, also a Texan, the 44th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 32nd Vice President (under FDR) famously described the Vice-Presidency as being “not worth a bucket of warm piss”. (For many years, this quote was euphemized as “warm spit”.)

  2. Morning Richard:

    Yes Sir, this story was also narrated in the book indicated in my blog post. Am learning a lot about the inside story of U.S politics during the Sixties. Some of the things I learned are very similar to our politics in Panama. Small world, isn’t it?



  3. I don’t believe in predestination, but I do believe there are certain people who are genetically programmed to be certain things. Especially in politics. For instance, Bill Clinton. Had he been born in Russia instead of the U.S. he would have been the Premier there. It’s just the kind of person he is.

  4. Hi Richard:

    I understand what you mean. There certain people who are born with something special that makes them tower above all the rest. Golda Meir, the former Prime Minister of Israel is one of those few gifted people born with success under their sleeves



  5. Hi Omar,
    I, too, am catching up on some reading. I just finished Colin Powell’s autobiography, a consummate soldier and an honorable man.
    I have Dick Cheney’s autobiography on order (a dollar for a used copy and probably not worth that) as Powell’s book detailed what it was like to work for Cheney while he was Sec of Defense.
    John Adams could never have imagined the abuse of power possible by a vice president as was done under Cheney’s terms in office.

  6. Hello Jim and Nena:

    Looks like we are both on the same page regarding our reading topics. I agree with your assessment on Dick Cheney. He was a deceitful person who tainted the Bush’s administration.

    He bashed both Powell and Condie Rice in his book.

    About the latter he wrote: “Rice realized sometime later that she had made a major mistake by issuing a public apology. She came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right. Unfortunately the damage was done.”

    Ms. Rice later claimed this incident never took place. Cheney was lying about her crying in his office.

    My next book is dubbed, “Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” penned by Anthony Summers. And the next one after that is….who knows?



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