HistoryCast

Podcast: Why Mike Pence may be the most powerful VP ever

There's an old joke: A family has two sons. One son grows up and goes off to sea. The other becomes vice president of the United States. Neither is ever heard from again.

That joke made the rounds back in the 1910s, when the guy who liked to tell it, Thomas Marshall, was serving as Woodrow Wilson's vice president.

And while the vice presidency may have been something of a constitutional afterthought, a way to make sure the electoral college worked to pick a president, it has since evolved into an office with prestige, power -- and a pretty good chance of moving up to the presidency itself.

In this week's episode, we talk to two former chiefs of staff to past vice presidents as we chart the evolution of the office, from overlooked outpost to crucial cornerstone. And we remember some of the lesser known vice presidents in American history, like the two who voted against establishing the office in the first place, the guy who died before he even got to Washington, and the guy who compared the office to a "bucket of warm spit."

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