Most of you probably read that headline and mentally responded with a, “Duh!” For most Americans (and foreign dignitaries), U.S. Vice President Joe Biden does not exactly scream “competency.” However, it has more to do with his position rather than his personality.
According to a Washington Post article from Sunday, Biden’s most recent apology was directed toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In an address to attendees of a foreign policy discussion at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Thursday, Biden claimed Erdogan admitted that Turkey’s lax border control had allowed foreign fighters to join extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. Take your pick).
Most foreign leaders have learned to take Biden’s comment with a grain of salt, but President Erdogan is well known in the international community for his stubbornness and inability to admit fault. According to the Post article, Erdogan sounded more like a teenage girl than the leader of a country, and he said, “If Biden said such a thing, he is history to me.”
While this gaffe is just the latest in a series, it is also one of many reasons Joe Biden will never be the president of the United States. Like vice presidents before him, Joe Biden’s biggest obstacle on the road to the West Wing is his current job title.
In the history of the United States, 14 vice presidents have assumed the presidency. Only five of those VPs (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush) were directly elected to the presidency. The rest assumed office upon the death or resignation of their predecessor. To sum this up, of the 47 U.S. vice presidents, only 10.6 percent actually ran for presidential election and won after serving as VP.
Working as the vice president can kill political careers for a variety of reasons. First, a VP running for president is unavoidably tied to the successes and failures of the previous administration. He (and I say he because, to date, we have not had a female vice president, and not because I am a misogynist) will have to justify every decision. He could always decide to throw his predecessor under the bus, but most people prefer loyal friends to backstabbing Sally Langston types.
Now the entire campaign becomes “Why All this Work Some Other Guy (again, not a misogynist, I promise) Did is Actually Super Awesome for the Country.” You can’t really run on “hope” and “change” when you just spent the last eight years supporting all the things you “hope to change.”
Additionally, the vice presidency comes with the added pressure of the national spotlight. While he’s not Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden is still constantly surrounded by journalists. Every mistake is recorded for future generations. As a senator from Delaware, Biden obviously still had to deal with the media, but his opinion didn’t matter as much. People asked fewer questions that prompted unscripted responses.
Now, we have six years of well-publicized mistakes to look back on, and none of them make Biden seem particularly presidential. There was the time he referred to Asia as “the Orient” on Sept. 17 and the interview in May 2012 where he accidentally forced Obama to take a stance on gay marriage.
On the campaign trail, Biden once introduced the soon-to-be president as “Barack America” in August 2008. He also told Missouri State Sen. Chuck Graham to stand up at a rally in September 2008, before remembering that Graham is wheelchair-bound. I could continue, both for my entertainment and your education, but I think we all get the picture.
By becoming VP, Biden pretty much sealed his fate. America has elected raging alcoholics, adulterers and a man who thought Africa was a country. We’ve chosen a man who was dumb enough to get stuck in a bathtub! However, for all the idiots we’ve elected, the vast majority of them weren’t vice presidents.
There will be plenty of politicians vying for the presidency in 2016. Biden’s ceremonial role in the White House will most likely be his last in the public sector. He can go work in the lobbying industry or retire.
The American vice presidency is a largely unexplored role in our political system. With the formal executive power of a small dog, Biden spends most of his time working behind the scenes. Most of his work is unaccredited and off the record.
Biden will never work out of the Oval Office. It’s a nearly impossible transition for the modern vice president to make. Men far more competent and polished have failed, and Biden will be no exception.
In the words of one former vice president (and later president) Harry Truman, “Look at all the vice presidents in history. Where are they? They were about as useful as a cow’s fifth teat.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Harry.