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FixCam: The Best (and Worst) Vice Presidential Picks

Barack Obama and John McCain will announce their vice presidential selections sometime in the next 14 days (or so). Before that happens, however, The Fix took a stroll back through history to find the best and worst vice presidential picks. Our choices are below. Agree or disagree? Who did we leave out? Sound off in the comments section.

THE BEST

5. Joe Lieberman (2000): The Connecticut Senator, back when he was still a Democrat, gave a historic feel (because of his faith) to the Democratic ticket and helped Al Gore "win" Florida.

4. Dick Cheney (2000): Surely our most controversial pick but remember that at the time Cheney was seen as giving George W. Bush much-needed gravitas.

3. Walter Mondale (1976): Jimmy Carter was a little known Southern governor about whom many in the Washington establishment had real concerns. In picking Mondale, a veteran insider, Carter not only allayed those doubts but gave himself a boost in national polls.

2. Al Gore (1992): Gore reaffirmed the idea that the election hinged on a generational choice between the youthful Bill Clinton and the aging George H.W. Bush. Gore also went on to reinvent the responsibilities of the vice president.

1. Lyndon Johnson (1960): John F. Kennedy didn't much like Johnson (the feeling was mutual) but knew the Texas senator was the key to winning the South. The pick was made and Johnson delivered his home region.

THE WORST

5. Dan Quayle (1988): Bad press seemed to cling to the Indiana Senator. From mispelling "potato" to his inexplicable war against "Murphy Brown," Quayle never seemed to be able to get out of his own way.

4. Andrew Johnson (1865): Picked by Abraham Lincoln in order to show a unified front to the nation, Johnson came drunk to his own inauguration and promptly insulted any number of dignitaries in attendance with his speech.

3. Thomas Eagleton (1972): Sen. George McGovern (S.D.) picked Eagleton, a Missouri senator, after several more high-profile choices turned him down. It turned out to be a huge mistake as revelations that Eagleton had been hospitalized for depression forced him off the ticket.

2. Aaron Burr (1800): Although not "picked" by Jefferson -- until the Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804, the candidate with the second most electoral votes became vice president -- Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton while in office. Nuff said.

1. Spiro Agnew (1968): Richard Nixon spent much of his first term trying to figure out how to kick Agnew, a former Maryland governor, off the ticket in 1972. Agnew did the deed himself in 1973 when he resigned amid federal charges of bribery and corruption.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 14, 2008; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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Comments

The Dems are saying Joe Biden can disagree with
a person with a smile.

I say it is not a "smile." It is a "sneer."

Posted by: J. Deibh | August 23, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

You're all wrong on Burr. Without him winning the New York City vote there wouldn't have been a President Jefferson elected in 1800. He was to Jeffereson what Johnson was to Kennedy bringing along an indispensable state. Besides he was a good vice president, most of which at that time meant presiding over the Senate. In fact, his Senate farewell was one of the finest speeches of the era.

Posted by: Ken | August 17, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

come on Chris, Joe Lieberman? He was the worst pick ever. #1 reason why Gore lost.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Without going back to far in my case, I would have to say Spiro Agnew. He was
only charged with extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. I was drafted
after college and eventually sent to Vietnam. I remember this POS calling
college students protesting pigs. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Posted by: Sean L. | August 15, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

…as several people have mentioned, Chis has mixed two different topics here:

1) Which VP choice helped or hurt most in getting elected? Helped, I'd say LBJ is first on that, Cheney might be second. Lieberman isn't eligible (getting elected is a prerequisite—unless you give points for getting close). Hurt, Eagleton of course…not too sure any others actually apply.

2) Which VP had the greatest effect on the US? Use the same standards as the "Time Man of the Year" –effect could be positive or negative. Can certainly be argued that Cheney has had a far greater negative effect on the US than any other VP (as a VP, not as President) in history. Gore might be fairly high, because of lack of competition (what other sitting VPs actually have had an effect?).

VPs ascending to the Presidency is probably a third area...now you can start bringing in LBJ, Andrew Johnson, John Calhoun, John Tyler, etc. as negative; and perhaps TR and Harry Truman as positive.

Posted by: purplemartin | August 15, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

There ought to be another category: VPs who overcame their selection. At the top of the list would be Teddy Rooseveldt, who was allegedly picked to be McKinley's VP to "end" T.R.'s political career. (VP was seen as a dead end job in those days.) The joke was on the old guard Republicans, though, when McKinley was assasinated and TR started trust-busting and conserving national forests.

Harry Truman would be another good example of a guy who got picked as VP, wasn't trusted much by his president, and then suceeded to and in the top job.

Posted by: DJ | August 15, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Funny you should mention Dan Quayle (who spelled Potatoe correctly) - it was his inexperience which marked him and yet he has more experience than Barack Obama.

Posted by: Dennis
-------------------

Spelt it correctly, own a dictionary douche bag?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...Cheney and Burr both shot someone while in office, but Cheney's #4 best and Burr's #2 worst? I realize Burr's victim died and Cheney's apologized for getting in the way of hit shot, but shouldn't the vice president shooting someone in the face automatically put them on the worst list?

Posted by: croatoan | August 15, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Johnson turned out to be a courageous president who stood up against Radical Republicans like Sumner and Stephens and their plan to punish the South for defending its own territorial sovereignty in the face of Abraham Lincoln's unconstitutional invasion of sovereign states. Johnson's Reconstruction plan was the same as Lincoln's, but he did not enjoy Lincoln's prestige. The phony impeachment charge against Johnson was led by Secretary of War Stanton (and his radical Republican allies). There is much evidence suggesting that Stanton was part of the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln, so they could go forward with their plans to subjugate the South and destroy states' rights.

Posted by: warrenmass | August 15, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

LBJ: Good for Kennedy, bad for the U.S.

Posted by: Varnson | August 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

You gotta love the lame wannabe's who rag on Gates. They're probably in the same club that still tries to impress on everyone that Betamax was the best, too. What these techno-dweebs always miss is that there are other considerations beyond pure technology and that history has already decided as have the remainder of the public they so obviously hate.

Now watch how a laundry list of why Linux is better than Windows next comes dribbling out of these idiots' fingers. Let's all say it together: LOSERS. Let them knock themselves out trying (and failing) to criticize someone who's personally responsible for more wealth creation and quality of life improvement than a thousand Mother Theresa's put together ever could. Bill Gates is and always will be considered by serious people to be one of most significant contributors of the 20th Century.

Posted by: Not Old Pol | August 15, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Funny you should mention Dan Quayle (who spelled Potatoe correctly) - it was his inexperience which marked him and yet he has more experience than Barack Obama.

Posted by: Dennis | August 15, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

It was not Andrew Johnson who destroyed the reconstruction plan, it was a bullet on Lincoln's head. the american people at that time deserves Andrew Johnson, who survived the divisiveness, the traitorship, the insubordination, the selfishness, the power seekers.. etc...ruling this kind of constituents you may say He was a survivor...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

The criteria for choosing best and worst vice-presidential nominees did not seem to me to be clearly stated. There is a big difference between choosing based entirely upon poltical electoral reasons and competence.

I prefer to judge the vice-presidential nominees I am aware of based upon their competence, especially if they later become president.

Worst:

1) Cheney, he has been vitrual co-president on many issues, being a key reason why Bush, is for various reasons, the worst president in our history so far.
The war in Iraq, neglect of Middle East, human rights abuses on a major scale, obsession with helping corporations, refusal to try to help those without health care, violations of Constitution, ignoring climate change, etc., these are major failures of the Bush-Cheney regime.

2) Andrew Johnson. The impeachment accusations against him were more constitutionally flimsy than those against Clinton, but he was one of the most incompetent presidents, as well as being an overt racist, who seemed to try to nullify the northern victory during the early years of Reconstruction.

3) Lyndon Johnson. He escalated the unnecessary United States military intervention more than any other president. The result was the deaths of over a million persons.

4) Harry Truman. He looked upon the world basically the same as Bush II, "us" vs. "them." His knowledge of foreign policy issues was as limited as Bush II and was also unduly influenced by hard-line advisers. Truman's major errors are recognized by some historians as significantly contributing to the cold war.

5) Sprio Agnew. One of the only presidents or vice-presidents to have broken the law before attaining high office. Intellectually on about the same level as Harding and Bush II.

As to Aaron Burr, I am not sure if Jefferson chose him as the vice-presidential candidate. In any event, Burr should have stepped aside when Jefferson did not win a majority of electoral votes in 1800 CE election. They were both of same party and the understanding was Jefferson was the presidential nominee.

Burr and Hamilton are both arguably villians. Hamilton supported repression of dissidents during the administration of John Adams. He also tried to exploit the prestige of George Washington in urging a large army, led by Washington with Hamilton second in command, being created to march through Virginia and other states, to intimidate anti-federalists. Washington eventually discovered the true motives behind Hamilton's scheme.

Posted by: Independent | August 15, 2008 2:22 AM | Report abuse

MarkInAustin:

Sure, Burr was charged with treason after he was VP. But I don't remember reading that he was a bad VP. Of course, I could be wrong again ....

Posted by: mnteng | August 15, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Most vice presidential nominees were pretty weak, especially during the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were usually chosen to balance the ticket by geography (Northerner Burr with Southerner Jefferson for example) or to unify a divided party (that's how Chet Arthur somehow got on the ticket with Garfield and rose to the presidency after Garfield was shot.)

We may also need to seperate "contribution to winning" vs. character and/or performance in office. I agree Cheney was very helpful in getting Bush II elected, but once he got in office...yikes!

My bottom 5:
1) Burr...a true psychopath
2) Nixon...imagine if Ike had picked someone else, anyone else!
3) Agnew..basically a petty crook
4) Edwards...did zilch for the ticket, a true "empty suit"
5) Eagleton...while not entirely fair, the brouhaha over his mental health issues ended what little chance the D's had to win that year


Best:
1) LBJ...arguably the only VP pick that tipped an election
2) Truman...sometimes letting the party bosses make the choice turns out to be a good thing
3) Gore...solid pick
4) Mondale...another solid pick that unified the party
5) Bush I...helped Reagan gain Establishment cred

Posted by: jeff | August 15, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Cheney? Yes, thanks for the Iraq War you washbed up frustrated Vietnam neo-con. Way to go. Who suggested this horrible choice? Worst public official in history. Most likely public official to wipe his arse with the Constitution? Yeah, he's our boy!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I think it's unfair to group Thomas Eagleton in with those other losers. Eagleton had a treatable disease that people were ignorant about and prejudiced toward (including George McGovern). I would like to believe that if Eagleton were vice president choice now, people would have a different reaction.

Posted by: Dramaticlookcat | August 14, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Mnteng, Burr raised his own private militia and intended to take the [then] western part of the nation for his own empire.

I believe he went to France after his failed insurrection, but somehow died wealthy in NYC.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | August 14, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Are we a gun loving country, or not? Cheney only causes some flesh wounds and a heart attack and gets on the best list. Yet dead eye Burr coolly hits his mark and gets on the worst list? Come on, CC, this is America, isn't it? Wait 'til the NRA catches wind of this. Head for the hills, CC!

Posted by: Optimyst | August 14, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Aaron Burr wasn't a bad vice president because he dueled with Hamilton, he was a bad VP because he was a completely unprincipled and corrupt hack. (Which, of course, is related to the duel, since Hamilton had made his feelings about Burr's hackery well known.)

Posted by: DRW | August 14, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Johnson was the worst VP pick because he turned into one of our worst presidents. He destroyed Lincoln's reconstruction plans which resulted in continued suffering and inequality for African-American citizens. He was a real loser.

Posted by: milana4 | August 14, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Johnson was the worst VP pick because he turned into one of our worst presidents. He destroyed Lincoln's reconstruction plans which resulted in continued suffering and inequality for African-American citizens. He was a real bastard.

Posted by: Milana4 | August 14, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Johnson was the worst VP pick because he turned into one of our worst presidents. He destroyed Lincoln's reconstruction plans which resulted in continued suffering and inequality for African-American citizens. He was a real bastard.

Posted by: Milana4 | August 14, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Johnson was the worst VP pick because he turned into one of our worst presidents. He destroyed Lincoln's reconstruction plans which resulted in continued suffering and inequality for African-American citizens. He was a punk bastard.

Posted by: Milana4 | August 14, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Top of the worst pick, or all of he obvious reasons (self serving, crooked, self indulgent, racist, radical feminst, nagging old hag, b*tch) -- Geraldine Ferraro . To get anyuthing even remotely close, today, you'd have to choose Hillary Clinton.

And. let me add, as a newlty convinced Obama voter, if Ms. Cltinon is on the ticket, I stay home or vote for McCain. And, may I add, A LOT of other voters feel exactly the same way.

Posted by: Observer | August 14, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

This list contradicts itself. You say Dick Cheney was a good pick for political reasons, which led to Bush's election in 2000 (but is arguably the most gross violator of law that has held the office of VP).

But Aaron Burr, who wasn't actually elected on the ticket, but elected independently as VP, was terrible because he took part in a duel.

Well then -- it's completely unclear whether you think a good choice or a bad choice is determined by electability and "gravitas" or by activities in office after election.

Posted by: CHoward | August 14, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

That should read "... elected POTUS in 2008."

Posted by: mnteng | August 14, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

jm917:
Yeah, my point was just that Jefferson was probably a worse VP for Adams than Burr was for Jefferson as pre-12th Amendment VPs. At least Burr was from the same party. I mean, Burr is put on the bad list just because he shot the guy that helped deny him the Presidency (among other things)? Heck, Cheney shot one of his FRIENDS in the face and he's on the GOOD list. And that's not even getting into his role in trying to usurp the Constitution via the unitary executive ....

Politics were a lot more interesting back then. I'll bet we couldn't get a racist, a handicapped person, or a gay man elected in 2008.

Posted by: mnteng | August 14, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Best for an election maybe not to lead...lol...

and Chris as a side note baout VP my prediction

Obama's saving announcement for post "Saddleback Mountain" lol as a safety net ...

I think when Obama and McCain come back down from ranching sheep and their tent... sorry wrong video...

oh i mean when they come back off their joint speaking engagement at saddleback church Obama can use the VP announcement to either curb any negative that seemingly is coming back out of it

or to extend the spin and attention of it toward himself.

and then they both meet women and get married and then...it all wraps up with one of them in the White house saying "I can't quit you Barry!"

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman should be on the worst list. As should Nixon. Ed Muskie should be on the best. He was one of the factors in Humphrey's comeback in '68.

Posted by: Paleo | August 14, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Bill "have another patch for your security starved computer" Gates doesn't impress me at all.

Posted by: Old Pol | August 14, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Gates is unparalleled as a paradigm changer"

Huh? Bill Gates didn't recognize the information superhighway until it ran him over. His success is based on giving away software cheap or free until there's no competition, then charging monopoly rates having established client lock-in. That's a paradigm shift that would make John Rockefeller proud.

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't change the fact that Burr shot a guy, but it wasn't a random murder or anything, it was a duel that Hamilton agreed to.

Posted by: Brendan | August 14, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman belongs on the worst picks list. He didn’t deliver a win, and has proven himself to be a disappointing (former) Democrat. Al Gore could have asked Bill Gates, and maybe Barack Obama should.

Bill Gates is unparalleled as a paradigm changer and could offer the ticket instant credibility for American-inspired hope and global progress.

Posted by: hmm | August 14, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

What did Bill Gates ever do, except steal someone else's idea and beta test it into billions of dollars?

Posted by: Old Pol | August 14, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Calhoun was Jackson's VP. "The Cast-Iron Man" always wanted to be president, but in 1824 he saw the handwriting on the wall and announced that he'd be a candidate for VP, so that kept him out of the "corrupt bargain" mess in which Henry Clay wound up throwing his support to J.Q. Adams in the House run-off. That made Calhoun Adams' VP, and he was content to bide his time in that slot while Adams and Jackson battled it out in the "grudge match" 1828 election. As Jackson's VP, Calhoun secretly wrote and anonymously the "South Carolina Exposition and Protest," which was a manifesto for nullification. He revealed his authorship when in 1830 nullification blew up into a major national crisis. When SC subsequently tried to put nullification into effect, Jackson threatened to invade SC and hang Calhoun (who still happened to be his VP). Needless to say, Jackson dumped Calhoun in 1832 and picked Martin Van Buren. Calhoun went back to the Senate (as a Whig because he was anti-Jackson), and pulled wires to get Tyler Too nominated for the vice presidency in 1840.

There was also Col. Richard Johnson, who got to be Van Buren's veep on the strength of his claim (probably fraudulent) to have killed Tecumseh in hand-to-hand combat during the War of 1812. Johnson was also known in his day as a proponent of Sunday mail deliveries, which the piety-oriented Whigs denounced as a godless desecration of the Christian Sabbath. And Johnson also lived with a black woman, which seems to have been OK for a Democrat in those super-racist days as long as he didn't outrage white sensibilities by marrying her.

Re: Jefferson as Adams' VP--that was when the original constitutional provision applied and the runner-up in the electoral college got to be veep. Same situation that created the Jefferson-Burr tie in 1800.

Politics was much more fun back then ...

Posted by: jm917 | August 14, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Taft was an excellent VP choice by TR.

The best intentional VP picks of recent years have certainly included Gore, but also GHB, who had the best resume of any recent VP, and who became a darn good foreign policy Prez. My single favorite was a Veep nominee on a losing ticket - Lloyd Bentsen.
That was an upside-down ticket, if ever there was one.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | August 14, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman belongs on the worst picks list. he didn't help deliver a win, and has proven himself a dissapointing former Democrat.

Al Gore should have asked Bill Gates, and Obama could still do so.

Posted by: hmm | August 14, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Only one objection: Joe Lieberman should be tied with Spiro Agnew. Graham, two-term FL governor and two-term FL senator wanted the VP job in 2000. Florida would have been won be a couple points in 2000. Gore would have been President instead of George "My Pet Goat, don't bother me with a hurricane, I'm too busy slapping volleyball player's asses to respond to the invasion of a close ally" Bush. I'm curious how the senator from a small electoral state that is going to vote Democrat no matter what and loses Florida (as compared to Graham) and the election for you is the fifth best pick ever?

Posted by: muD | August 14, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman could be in the best and worst categories of McCain picks him this year.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | August 14, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"NOT WORTH A BUCKET OF..."

Agree about John Nance Garner as best, since he described VP as "not worth a bucket of warm p*ss" (cleaned up to read: "spit" by the press of the day).


Since you are ignoring today's fateful decision of Barack Obama to agree to allow Hillary's name to be placed in nomination at the convention, I must pass along this gem, found on the NYT site's comments section. Mr. Larry Eisenberg had this to say about the development:


Barack Obama, to appease,
May soon find he’s shorn of fleece,
Bought Ms. Hill’ry’s pig-in-poke,
Put his neck right in her yoke!


Now that is a brilliant commentary!

When are you going to get around to examining the ramifications of the Hillary roll call trojan horse, Chris? How about now?

____________________

What if they could shoot you without leaving a trace? They can. BAN RADIATION WEAPONRY:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/zap-have-you-been-targeted-directed-energy-weapon-victims-organized-gang-stalking-say-its-happening-usa-1


Posted by: scrivener | August 14, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

jm917:

Nice list. Wasn't John C. Calhoun VP at one point too? He'd have to make the list for bad VPs.

Posted by: mnteng | August 14, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Your list of "best picks" is too much tied to recent/current history.If you look back into history, you can find some great picks, though they were usually for the wrong reasons (which opens up a whole new perspective).

And you can find some other real stinkers, too.

Consider:

Theodore Roosevelt--"that damned cowboy" (as GOP Ohio boss Mark Hanna, who "made" McKinley in 1896 and reportedly is Karl Rove's idol, called the obstreperous TR) was kicked upstairs into what was assumed political oblivion in 1900. The next year, of course, McKinley was assassinated and TR became the youngest president ever, and a near-great one. Of course, he was picked for the wrong reasons, but still a great pick.

Harry Truman--"the Second Missouri Compromise," picked by FDR in 1944 because many in the party (especially the southern Democrats) feared that the sitting VP, Henry Wallace, was too liberal. There were also premonitions that FDR wouldn't survive a fourth term. So FDR at the very last minute opted for Truman, known chiefly for the investigations he'd been leading in the Senate against wartime corruption. Of course, FDR utterly ignored HST during the campaign and kept him at such arm's length after the fourth term was won that Truman knew nothing about either the president's dealings with Stalin at Yalta or about the existence of the atom bomb. (As a senator investigating government waste, he'd been warned off poking into what looked like a gigantic but top-secret boondoggle called the Manhattan Project.) Truman was assumed by everyone, including FDR, to be a nonentity. How wrong they all were! Again, a great pick for all the wrong reasons.

Among bad picks--they are legion, especially from the old days when VPs were chosen just to provide "balance" or to mend fences, but few could have been worse than what the Whigs did in 1840 in naming John "Tyler too" to the ticket headed by "Tippecanoe"--their hero, William Henry Harrison. Harrison won the raucous 1840 "Log Cabin" campaign--he was said to like sipping hard cider on the porch of his backwoods log cabin, which would be like claiming today that a candidate is Joe Sixpack in a mobile home. (Hey, how come the candidate-sellers haven't thought of that one yet?) But "Old Tip" proceded to give the longest inaugural address in history (2 hours!) while bareheaded in the rain, so he caught pneumonia and was dead within 30 days. "Tyler Too"--the first veep in history to take over on a president's death--turned out to be the opposite of everything the Whigs stood for. Tyler was a front man for southern extremists like John C. Calhoun. He helped set the stage for the Mexican War and the Civil War. And he ended his career by sitting in the Confederate Congress, dying before the war was over and secession was dead.

There was also Thomas G. Marshall of Indiana, Woodrow Wilson's VP, who was so obscure that he amused himself by riding trains around the country and telling fellow travelers in the Pullman lounge car that he was a drug dealer who never got caught because he had friends in high places. Apparently no one recognized him as the veep. When Wilson had his stroke in 1919, Marshall was terrified that he'd have to take over. Essentially he went to hide out in the White House basement. Fortunately Mrs. Wilson and the president's private physician were there to practically run the executive branch while keeping Wilson's true condition a secret from everyone, including Congress.

Then there was John Nance Garner, FDR's first veep, most famous for his scatological description of the vice presidency's value. What no one says is that Garner (who'd been Speaker of the House and a rival for the 1932 nomination) was opposed to everything FDR did once the New Deal got started. Not long before FDR was inaugurated, someone down in Miami took a potshot at Roosevelt and the mayor of Chicago, killing the latter (he was apparently the target) but barely missing the president-elect. Had the assassin got FDR instead, and Garner had become president, American history would have been very different.

And what about Richard Nixon in 1952, picked by Ike to appease the McCarthyite wing? The country got its first whiff of Tricky Dick's style when it was revealed that he's been the beneficiary of a slush fund set up by rich Republican backers, but he wiggled out of that with the immortal "Checkers" speech, and Ike (who had been ready to dump him) said "You're my boy!" Too bad Ike didn't stick with his original impulse. In retrospect, a terrible choice.

All this underscores the importance of a smart VP pick!

Posted by: jm917 | August 14, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

CC,

Slow news day? Now you have to steal ideas from CNN?

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/14/vp.picks/index.html

For Best VPs, you left off GHWB. After "voodoo economics" and the rest of the bitter R campaign, RWR bringing GHWB on board helped "heal" the party and brought foreign policy chops to the ticket.

And if you're going back into antiquity for bad VPs, Thomas Jefferson was a terrible VP for Adams. It's one thing to do something stupid on your own (Burr, Agnew), it's a totally different thing to be actively working against the policies of the President.

Posted by: mnteng | August 14, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

sorry...Fillmore for worst VP

Posted by: against the DLC | August 14, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Millard Fillmore (1848). He was named Taylor's VP to unite the Whigs, but after Taylor died and he became president, Fillmore advocated for and passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which was a horrible law that divided and destroyed his party.

Posted by: against the DLC | August 14, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Cactus Jack Gardner was no peach.

Posted by: Old Pol | August 14, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"...much-needed gravitas."

Seems like the gravitas shortfall this time around characterizes McCain, with his ads envying Obama's "celebrity" and his carousing with telecommunications lobbyist Vicki Iseman, a younger version of Cindy.

Posted by: First Mouse | August 14, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Honorable Mentions for worst picks:

John Edwards
Geraldine Ferraro
Admiral Stockdale

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

maplestar, do you want to add something insightful, or merely poke sticks?

In my opinion, Lieberman should be replaced by GWHB for number 5; though I would accept TR in that spot as well. The Fix's own comments imply he was joking by including Lieberman on the list - what Gore 'win' in Florida? Had Lieberman helped Gore win FL, they'd have won the state & the election.

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Now, now. Johnson was probably drunk at his inauguration, but not deliberately. He was suffering from typhoid fever at the time, and had taken either an alcoholic patent medicine or some alcohol to get him through. His detractors dissed him, but Lincoln defended him.

Posted by: Andy | August 14, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

@bsimon Do you want to explain why he should be on the other list, or do you just want to waste everybody's time with unsupported disagreement?

Posted by: maplestar | August 14, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

CNN has the same article out though the lists are slightly different. I'm a huge fan, but this lacks originality.

Posted by: Mrich777 | August 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is on the wrong list.

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

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