Monday, August 18, 2008


Seems like the chatter on prospective VP candidates has hit a fever pitch. But historically not many cared about the vice president...

An afterthought in the construction of the Constitution, it was on Sept. 6, 1787 that America's powdered-wig wearin' Constitutional Convention approved Alexander Hamilton's proposal to create the office of the vice presidency, declaring that the Veep should be the runner-up in the race to be president.

That's how VPs were picked until the rules were changed to allow presidential nominees to pick their running mates, which has since been used as a way for candidates to garner more votes with a "more balanced" ticket.

All this speculation spent on a job that Former Vice President John Nance Garner once famously remarked was "not worth a bucket of warm piss" and which John Adams once called "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

A recent CBS News poll on the presidential election states that 67% say their vote will be based mostly on the candidate at the top of the ticket, while 30% said that the choices of their vice presidential running mates will have a great deal of influence on their decision. That's twice the number who said the VP picks would matter in 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were preparing their campaigns.

According to the poll, voters who are still undecided are more apt than those currently favoring Barack Obama or John McCain to say the candidates' choices for vice president will be important to their vote. 48% of those voters say the choices will influence their vote while 47% say they won't. And Independents are more likely than Democrats or Republicans to say the choice of vice presidential nominee will matter.

As interesting as Obama's and McCain's choices will be, the real question is, does it matter? The answer of many voters and political commentators is, more than any other time in American history, yes. But the better question is why?

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