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A Real Job for the Vice President: Leading Congress

• by William John Cox
 The vice presidency has been a joke for most of the nation’s history. The first vice president, John Adams, said it was "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." Woodrow Wilson’s VP, Thomas Marshall quipped "Once there were two brothers. One went away to sea; the other was elected vice president. And nothing was heard of either of them again." FDR’s first vice president, John Nance Garner, who had served as a powerful speaker of the house, said his new office was "not worth a pitcher of warm piss."

The Constitution simply provides that "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate;" however, the actual job is whatever the incumbent makes of it.

The master manipulator, Dick Cheney demonstrated how it is possible for a savvy insider to adroitly seize unprecedented power; however, the incumbent, Joseph Biden plays a more compliant role, having an opinion about most issues and responsibility for none. He is "committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history" and "cutting waste," but he rarely shows up for work at the Senate, unless a tie vote is expected.

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