SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

Vice President Kamala Harris says she is ready to be president should the situation arise because, like all of her 48 predecessors as U.S. vice-president, she “took an oath of office” in which she swore to be “ready.”

The oath just says that she “will serve to the best of her ability” as VP, not that she is “ready” for any other office. The U.S. Constitution mandates that the VP becomes president if the office becomes vacant, or if the 25th Amendment is invoked, or the incumbent impeached. No specific VP duties are enumerated other than presiding over the Senate. 

“Ready” is defined as prepared, unhesitant, clever and skillful mentally and equipped to act immediately. Harris says she is ready. But most of her 48 predecessors were definitely not that. They were mediocrities and non-entities. If they were “ready” to be president then they would have been nominated for and elected president.

Instead, they were chosen – as Harris was chosen by Joe Biden – to “balance the ticket.” In other words, for superficial and opportunistic reasons. Biden promised to pick a Black woman as his VP nominee and the field included Harris, the mayors of Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and an ex-UN ambassador. Harris was the most credible. She was not picked because of her vote-getting ability. Her 2020 presidential bid folded in 2019.

In the 1800s and 1900s the “balancing” was geographic and factional. In the 2000s it’s race, gender and sexual orientation, commonly called “identity” politics and the philosophy of some Democrats. Harris, age 58, knows her path to the White House is through succession, not election.

She needs to be on a Biden-Harris ticket and she needs it to win. Polls consistently show her losing to Trump and her approval polling is lower than Biden’s. First, Democrats will not dump her as VP because that would be perceived as racist and sexist, even if she is perceived as a loser to Trump. And second, she is a roadblock to Plan B.

Any national presidential campaign requires an infrastructure, which requires a timeline, which involves hiring staff, strategists and field operators and, most importantly, fund-raisers. Anybody running in 2024 should have been in the game by Labor Day. Biden, who will be age 81 on Nov. 20, is running and the Democrats’ state party machinery will get him on the ballot. It will be remembered that Bobby Kennedy got into the 1968 race after Lyndon Johnson fared poorly in the Feb. New Hampshire primary, and then LBJ withdrew.

But 55 years later a national campaign is all about hiring the brainiest talent and raising $1 million-a-day. If governors Gavin Newsom (CA), Gretchen Whitmer (MI) or JB Pritzker (IL) expect to contest Biden they must announce by Sept. 30. And Plan B won’t solve the Democrats’ dilemma, which is getting Biden off the 2024 ballot before he loses to Trump. The U.S. House will likely try to impeach him over the Hunter Biden scandal, but the Senate won’t vote to convict.

Plan B calls for Biden to resign his nomination after next summer’s Democratic convention and then have the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pick a replacement. The mechanisms are in place. Each state has two DNC members. They would vote the number of delegates assigned their state at the convention, the goal being to pick California’s Newsom and then have him beat Trump. This occurred in 1972 after a McGovern-Eagleton (D) ticket was nominated and imploded. Missouri senator Tom Eagleton revealed he had electro-shock treatments for depression and was forced off the ticket.

The DNC then picked Kennedy in-law Sargent Shriver for VP and McGovern-Shriver went on to lose massively to Nixon-Agnew. But the U.S. Constitution forbids a party from nominating two people from the same state on the national ticket. Harris is from California. And Harris is NOT going to resign her VP nomination. So forget about Plan B. Plan C is to pick Pritzker, who could self-fund. Pritzker-Harris has winner written all over it. Just kidding.

The Democrats’ dream ticket would be Newsom-Obama, with the former First Lady for VP. The disaster ticket would be Harris-Buttigieg. Welcome  back, President Trump.

VP FACTS:  There have been 49 vice-presidents, of which eight succeeded to the presidency through the incumbent’s death, four by assassination and four due to ill-health and/or age-related problems. Of those eight, four won a full term (Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Johnson) and four were dumped by their party (Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson, Arthur). And six others were outright elected president (Biden, Bush, Nixon, Van Buren, Jefferson, Adams). Percentagewise, over a 234-year span, a VP has a 28.6 percent chance of becoming president, 16.3 percent through death.

VPs ELECTED PRESIDENT (6): Given their national platform and media recognition, a competent VP serving under a popular president should have an edge. Not so much if the president is unpopular. George Bush was Reagan’s third term in 1988.

VPs DEFEATED FOR PRESIDENT (6): Only six have lost, and all in recent history. All brought something to the table, which is why they were VP. Al Gore was Clinton’s VP, the country prosperous and Clinton was getting impeached. Gore unwisely chose not to run on the Clinton-Gore record and lost in 2000. Walter Mondale could not erase the stigma of being Jimmy Carter’s VP and lost in 1984. Gerald Ford was crushed by Nixon’s  Watergate and lost in 1976. Hubert Humphrey was saddled with LBJ’s Vietnam policies and lost in 1968. Eisenhower was popular, but Nixon narrowly lost to JFK in 1960. 

INTO THE DUSTBIN: Some VPs could have been chosen, like Biden in 2016, Dick Cheney in 2008, Alben Barkley in 1952, Charles Dawes in 1928 and Thomas Marshall in 1920, but were not. Others never got the chance to be chosen as they went down with the ship, like Carter-Mondale in 1980, Bush-Quayle in 1992 and Trump-Pence in 2020.

VPs WHO WERE DISGRACED: Bribe-taking is just extra income among low-level politicians, but not at the VP level. Spiro Agnew started taking kick-backs from contractors while Baltimore County executive, Maryland governor and STILL AS VP. When disclosed in 1973, Agnew resigned. VP Aaron Burr (1800-04) was charged with treason in 1807, but acquitted..

VPs WHO GOT DUMPED: America almost had a Socialist President. VP Henry Wallace was a Stalin apologist and Socialist ideologue. Organized Labor got him dumped in 1944, replaced with Harry Truman, who became president 3 months after FDR’s 4th term began. Wallace ran for president in 1948 as the Progressive Party nominee with Communist Party backing. VP John Garner thought FDR wouldn’t run for a third term in 1940, was wrong and got dumped for Wallace.

PRESIDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in 1919 but lingered for another 20 months, until March 1921. The de facto president was his wife, not VP Thomas Marshall, the invisible Indiana ex-governor. Wilson’s condition was hidden from the public, as was Wilson. Likewise with Franklin Roosevelt, wheelchair-bound due to polio and a heavy smoker.

The press covered for him, not photographing his disability or infidelities. He died in April 1945.
PREDICTION: If the Biden-Harris ticket starts the next term, Harris-Buttigieg will finish it if Biden steps down or becomes ill.

Harris would be another Millard Fillmore, not a Teddy Roosevelt.

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