Setting aside his penchant for earthy language, was he right?
A: For most of our history, up until recently, Vice President John Nance Garner hit the nail on the head.
But the trajectory of the office has been in a positive direction. Since 1977, the beginning of the Mondale vice presidency, it has really been a serious office. All of the vice presidents from Mondale on have been integral parts of the executive branch, right in the midst of White House decision-making.
Q: In the beginning, vice presidents were runners-up in elections and sometimes didn't actually like the presidents they served with. And then they began to be tapped to balance tickets, right?
A: The 19th-century vice presidents were really ticket-balancers who were chosen by party leaders. Sometimes they had resumes that were totally implausible.
Chester Author was collector of customs at the port of New York, and I don't think anyone viewed him as presidential tinder. His job was to help carry New York.
Not long after the election, President Garfield was shot and lingered for 80 days. Then Arthur became president.