Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Being VP is just like being a lesser Kardashian

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
Joe Biden is part of a storied tradition of VP gaffes, like offering condolences to the Irish PM for his still-living mother.
Joe Biden is part of a storied tradition of VP gaffes, like offering condolences to the Irish PM for his still-living mother.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Many think VP is a useless position, but it may be the best job in the country
  • He says it's like being a lesser Kardashian: perks, fame, salary and almost no responsibilities
  • Other perks are: no one wants your job, no one shoots at you; luxury to stay stupid things
  • Obeidallah: Quayle had a word for responsibility, and "that one word is 'to be prepared'"

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- "The vice-presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss."

Those famous words were uttered by John Nance Garner to describe the office he held from 1933 to 1941.

And John Adams, our nation's first vice president, described the position as: "...the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

If the vice presidency is such a useless position, why are so many people now vying to be Mitt Romney's running mate? Because they know it might just be the best job in the country -- or at least in the federal government.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Being vice president is like being one of the lesser Kardashian sisters (whatever their names are). Kim -- who is in essence the "president" of the clan -- is a household name, but she is also subject to a lot more scrutiny and pressure. Her sisters, however, are similar to our VP: they are paid great, treated like celebrities, and have almost no responsibilities.

Look at some of the perks of being vice president: An annual salary of about $230,000, a beautiful house, a jet plane, limo service, a staff and even your own seal. All that is missing is a few product endorsement deals and the vice president truly would be a Kardashian.

But wait, there are even more benefits, such as safety. Reprehensibly, a few our past presidents have been assassinated. But no one shoots at the veep. In fact, our vice presidents have shot other people. Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face just a few years ago. And in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr had an infamous duel in which he shot and killed the former secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. And we think that today's political climate is rough.

Another bonus of being VP: very few constitutionally mandated obligations. The president has too many responsibilities to list. But the VP has only three: 1. president of the Senate -- which is ceremonial position; 2. Cast the tie breaking vote if the Senate is ever deadlocked; and 3. Accept the tally of the Electoral College for the presidential election "in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives."

There are assistant managers at McDonald's who have more daily job responsibilities than our vice president. Indeed, there were 16 times in our nation's history that the office was vacant -- and in many cases for years at a time. It was not until 1967 that the 25th Amendment was adopted to establish a mechanism to replace a vice president if he left office midterm. Apparently, no one really cared too much before then if the vice presidency was vacant.

Blackburn on 'caliber' of VP candidates
Romney veepstakes speculation heats up
Condi Rice possible Romney pick for VP

Arguably the most painful responsibility for a sitting VP comes if he runs for president and loses. The VP is still required by the Constitution to read the name of the person who beat him in the presence of the entire Congress -- like Al Gore did in 2000. Awkward? Yes. Lots of work? No.

And then there are the intangible benefits. For example, not too many people want your job. People grow up dreaming of being president. You don't hear kids say: "One day I hope to grow up and be elected to the second-highest position in the federal government." No. We are a nation of alphas, not betas.

Plus, the media and political opponents don't pounce on every syllable the VP utters like they do with the president and presidential candidates. (I propose that any person running for president be read in essence a presidential "Miranda warning" explaining to him/her that anything they say, can and will be used against them -- even words taken out of context or are ones said by unnamed campaign advisors.)

In contrast, the VP has the luxury to say stupid things. Our current one, Joe Biden, is famous for them. His "best" may have been when he offered his public condolences to the prime minister of Ireland for the passing of his mother. The only problem was that the prime minister's mother was still very much alive.

But the modern day "president" of vice presidential gaffes had to be J. Danforth Quayle, a.k.a. Dan Quayle. This guy made George W. Bush sound like a philosopher king. Quayle made such "insightful "statements as: "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child." And this gem: "The future will be better tomorrow."

Soon, Mitt Romney -- ironically the person seeking possibly the worst job in our nation -- will tell us whom he has chosen to possibly serve in the best job in our nation.

At this point, speculation abounds who that person will be. But whoever is nominated for VP should heed these sage words offered by Dan Quayle: "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared.'"

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT