Harris and the Vice Presidency in a Historical Context


Office or incumbent? The office has been described as a nullity and a spare tire. The historic incumbents include many ‘also-rans’ and some did very little to speak of in office, or anywhere.. A few did not speak to the President while in office. One VP was described as a “smiling mediocrity” (and that was supposed to be a good thing). So can you judge an occupant?

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The media certainly thinks so, and has made Kamala Harris a topic of attention. Is this fair? On one hand, there’s an overall critical tinge to coverage that seems to have started January 21st. On the other there are some historic facts behind it, as Harris has the best predictable chance of becoming President of any modern VP, and comes from less years experience in Washington than recent incumbents. Can history add anything to such a partisan divide question?

Spurred on by an article from Bill Scher in Washington Monthly – check it out [https://washingtonmonthly.com/2021/11/26/vice-presidents-get-no-respect-kamala-harris-is-no-exception/] we look at this question. Is it, as Scher suggests, the office and we need to cut its newest incumbent slack? Or does the incumbent drive? Is there any way to judge a Vice President? Short answer – We think there can be VP success and failure, but in the end, it’s a political job with political goals, and that’s what watchers of politics should be focused on.