John Nance Garner once famously described the vice presidency of the United States using language that has become legendary.
He said — and I’ll use his actual verbiage here — that the vice presidency “isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.”
The prickly Texan wasn’t called “Cactus Jack” for nothing.
Well, the office has become something a bit more significant since the time Cactus Jack served with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Which brings us to the present day.
Republican nominee Donald J. Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to run with him this fall. Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton selected Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia to run with her.
Both men are good picks, given the constituencies to which they appeal. My hope, though, is that the office they seek becomes worth the effort they both plan to expend to attain it.
I guess the modern vice presidency can be defined by the role that Walter Mondale assumed when he became VP during the Carter administration. It’s become an office of actual substance. Mondale showed that a vice president can serve as a key adviser to the president who selects him.
George H.W. Bush’s relationship with Ronald Reagan wasn’t particularly close. Dan Quayle brought youthful enthusiasm to the administration led by Bush. Al Gore and Bill Clinton worked closely together for eight years. Dick Cheney and George W. Bush had an extraordinarily close relationship. And Joe Biden and Barack Obama’s tenure has produced a close personal and professional relationship.
Has the office become worth more than a certain bodily fluid?
Does it matter, though, in the selection of the next president? More than likely … no.
But anyone who’s “a heartbeat away from the presidency” needs to be taken seriously.