Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Qualifications for VP

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John Dean, famous Republican, has an interesting column that begins:

In truth, the Vice President of the United States is important for only one reason: He or she will become President of the United States upon the death, incapacity or resignation of the President. Nine times in our history, vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency: John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), Chester A. Arthur (1881), Theodore Roosevelt (1901), Calvin Coolidge (1923), Harry Truman (1945), Lyndon Johnson (1963), and Gerald Ford (1974). Of course, the vice president also has a significant secondary role: It is he or she, acting with a majority of the Cabinet, who can declare the president incapable of carrying out the duties of the office, and then take charge – until the action is either ratified or rejected by a majority of the Congress. So far in our history, however, this has never occurred.

Given the fact that the 2008 GOP standard-bearer John McCain is seventy-two years of age, his selection of an inexperienced Vice Presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has again focused attention on the process and procedures for selecting vice presidents – or, to put it more bluntly, the utter lack of process or procedures in selecting the person who is a heartbeat away from the presidency. McCain, not unlike others before him, selected a less than fully vetted running mate for political reasons. That is surely a concern for voters to think over in the upcoming election – but it raises a systemic concern, too, for the long run.

Consider this parallel: Does anyone believe that if John McCain were president and had selected Governor Sarah Palin under the Twenty-fifty Amendment to fill a vacancy in the vice presidency, Congress would have confirmed her? Not likely. In fact, it is even less likely that McCain would have even attempted to do so, for he would have embarrassed himself.

While the Constitution does not expressly set forth qualifications for the vice-presidency, it strongly implies them — and Palin falls short.

How Our Constitutional Process for Selecting Vice Presidents Evolved

Our founders gave little thought to the vice presidential selection process. Initially, the candidate who placed second in Electoral College votes became vice president. While this worked for the first three presidential elections, the election of 1800 produced a tie in the Electoral College, between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr (both of the same party), and although Burr was the announced candidate for vice president, when he came up with a tie vote, he refused to step aside, forcing the resolution of the contest in the House of Representatives, which proved to be a messy affair.

This clear flaw in the system was corrected by the Twelfth Amendment, which requires …

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Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2008 at 1:59 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

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