Reporter's Note: I assume President Obama will watch the vice presidential debate tonight. I mean, of course, after he reads my daily letter to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
It must be very peculiar to be President of the United States and be reduced to just another TV viewer while your vice president takes center stage in a debate. Of course, considering how your debate went last week you may be happy to be a spectator. Ha! Just kidding. I’m sure you will come back much, much stronger next week.
Vice presidents are strange, in a political sense. They are the back up quarterbacks of D.C.; they’re fun to meet at parties, good guests for ceremonial events, but they’re not really playing the game in a meaningful way. Part of the reason is precisely what we are seeing today; the role for many V.P.’s (barring calamity of course) is to not interfere with the president’s plans; to keep a low profile. That’s because both the president and vice president come from the same party.
I’ve often thought we might be a better nation if we’d never abandoned the older model in which the president was the candidate who received the most votes in the general election, and the vice president was the guy who came in second. Imagine what it would be like if those two offices were routinely held by different parties. I think it would almost certainly cause more dialogue between political foes. An opposition vice president would have a large voice in the public debate. He’d be well positioned to challenge policies that strayed too far left or too far right. And the knowledge that the Oval Office was only a heartbeat away from falling into opposition hands, might make both parties a tad more interested in getting along.
Of course, your party and the Republicans too, would never stand for such a thing. But it sure would be interesting. Heck, even a debate about that would be intriguing.
Anyway…hope you have fun watching tonight. I’ll be on fact check duty as always. Give me a call if you wish. Especially if it gets boring.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with