Palin on the Vice Presidency

In the brief time since Sarah Palin became the Republican Vice Presidential nominee and the number one target of the left-wing smear machine, one of the criticisms being leveled at her is that she trivialized the office of the Vice President and what the job entails in an interview about rumors she might be a candidate during an interview earlier this year.

The video of her interview with some tool from CNBC can be seen to the right. The salient quote is:

“What is it, exactly, that the VP does every day. I’m used to working very hard and being very productive in administration. We want to make sure that the VP slot would be a fruitful kind of position.

That’s being presented as making fun of the Vice Presidency or minimizing its importance, or being flippant or trivializing it – basically as not taking the job seriously. But the truth is that up until the became politically convenient for some to make an issue of it, no one took the job seriously. It was given to Dan Quayle and Spiro Agnew of all people. Who in their right minds would give those two idiots a job that they thought was important.

And many experienced Vice Presidents didn’t think any too highly of the job either. Consider what some of them have had to say about it:

“The vice-presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm piss” – VP John Nance Garner

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

“A little over a week ago, I took a rather unusual step for a vice president…I said something.” – VP Spiro T. Agnew

“Look at all the Vice Presidents in history. Where are they? They were about as useful as a cow’s fifth teat.” – VP Harry S. Truman

“The Vice Presidency is a most honorable office, but for a young man there is not much to do.” – VP Theodore Roosevelt

So what Palin said about the Vice Presidency echoes almost exactly the opinions of most other Vice Presidents, including three who went on to become among our greatest Presidents. She’s in pretty damned good company. Is anyone taking Teddy Roosevelt or Harry Truman to task for not taking the Vice Presidency seriously?

For a lot of Vice Presidents the job is an opportunity to learn and get more exposure and improve their political resume. At best it’s a job for a president-in-training. At worst it’s a job for a hatchet man or ceremonial show pony. That’s the way it’s been since the time of John Adams to the current moment, and that Palin should echo the opinions of those who went before her is a tribute to her sound judgment and her awareness of the history of the office.


About Dave 536 Articles
Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at


  1. Surely a minor quibble, but Palin didn’t appear to be joking, nor “trivializing” the office. She was either expressing her own ignorance or pleading for McCain to suggest some more substantive role than checking his pulse daily.
    Either reservation could have been expressed in a way that wasn’t such a “dumb blonde” quip.

  2. I got a different take on the clip. I think she was basically saying the VP doesn’t do anything. She’s got a Lt. Governor. She has a basic idea what the VP does, and she’s not alone in thinking the office is pretty trivial in a lot of ways.


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