Donald Trump: public enemy #1

“(G)et rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very … there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” —Donald Trump, announcing the end of American democracy on September 23, 2020.

If there were no ballots, we wouldn’t have to worry about a transfer of power, because we wouldn’t be changing presidents. We wouldn’t be voting, apparently in Donald Trump’s America, ever again. That is an incredibly clear statement of how little he values the Constitution he laughingly swore to “preserve, protect, and defend.” Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States of America. He is forcing me to vote a straight Democratic ticket for the first time in my life. I urge you to do the same, to protect our Constitution, our system of government, our way of life.

Our Aged Presidents and Candidates

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Ronald Reagan

On Tuesday, September 29, the two oldest people ever are going to square off in a debate as candidates for President of the United States of American.

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Donald Trump

Before Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan was the only person to pass his 70th birthday before being inaugurated as president, and at that, it was Reagan’s re-election (he first took office 17 days before his 70th birthday, in 1981). But now, we’re looking at an election in which whoever wins (ignoring the chance of a third-party candidate winning),

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Joe Biden

we’ll be inaugurating the oldest person ever to take the oath of office. On Inauguration Day 2021, Donald Trump will be 74 years 220 days old. That same day, Joe Biden will be 78 years 61 days old. And yes, Reagan is—at the moment—still the oldest president ever, having retired at the age of 77 years 348 days.

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Hillary Clinton

And the combined ages of the major party candidates so far outstrips any other election that it’s truly remarkable. Before 2020, the oldest combined ages of a two-candidate race was… well, in 2016, when 70-year-old Donald Trump defeated 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. But before that, we have to go back to 1984, when 73-year-old Reagan defeated 57-year-old Walter Mondale, and 1848, when 64-year-old Zachary Taylor (who died in office) defeated 66-year-old Lewis Cass.

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John McCain

In fact, the only candidates who’ve run for the presidency in their seventies were Trump, Reagan, Bob Dole (who lost the election of 1996 at the age of 73), and John McCain (who lost the election of 2008 at the age of 72). That’s it. Out of 57 elections, more than 75 major party candidates, and only four (now five) candidates more than 70 years old.

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Bob Dole

At the other end of the scale, everyone remembers that John Kennedy was the youngest president to be elected (he took office at the age of 43 in 1960), and all you trivia mavens also remember to correct that record, because Theodore Roosevelt succeeded to the presidency at the age of 42, upon William McKinley’s death in 1901.

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William Jennings Bryan

But how many of you remember that the youngest major party candidate was actually 36 years old? Had William Jennings Bryan won the election of 1896 (the first of three in which he was the Democratic nominee), he would have taken office 15 days before his 37th birthday (he was born March 19, 1860). Instead, he lost to William McKinley, who was born January 29, 1843, and took office 34 days after his 54th birthday. (McKinley won the popular vote, 51.0% to 46.7%, and the electoral vote, 271 to 176.) So the election of 1896 was the youngest campaign in history. Bryan went on to run again in 1900, again losing to McKinley, and then suffering a further defeat, against William Howard Taft in 1908. Bryan died at the age of 65, in 1925.

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George B. McClellan

The second youngest candidate was West Point graduate George B. McClellan, who was the commanding general of the Union Army early in the Civil War, and governor of New Jersey from 1878 to 1881. But when he lost to Abraham Lincoln’s re-election campaign of 1864, he was only 38 years old (he was born December 3, 1826). McClellan died at the age of 58, in late 1885.

The youngest campaigns were the elections of 1896, 1960, and 1860. In 1896, as I said, 54-year-old William McKinley defeated 36-year-old William Jennings Bryan. In 1960, it was the youngster John Kennedy defeating Vice President Richard Nixon, who was four years older than Kennedy.

On March 4, 1861 (Inauguration Day was March 4th, until the 20th Amendment changed it to January 20th, effective in 1937), Abraham Lincoln was 22 days past his 52nd birthday. In the election of 1860, he had defeated Vice President John C. Breckinridge (and also 64-year-old John Bell and 47-year-old Stephen Douglas—all four received electoral votes).

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John Cabell Breckinridge

Breckinridge accomplished a great deal very early in life. Born January 16, 1821, he represented Kentucky in the House of Representatives from 1851 to 1855. In 1855, President Franklin Pierce appointed Breckinridge US Minister to Spain (and the Senate confirmed him), but he declined the appointment, and returned home to resume his law practice. In 1856, he was elected the youngest Vice President in US history, on James Buchanan’s ticket (he took office just after his 36th birthday). He lost the election of 1860 to Lincoln, but was elected to the Senate at the same time. He took his seat on March 4, 1861, but that summer, Kentucky seceded from the Union, and Breckinridge went with it. He was declared a traitor and expelled from the Senate on December 4, 1861. He served as a general in the Confederate army, and was the fifth (and final) Secretary of War of the Confederacy for a few months in 1865. After the war, he went into exile in Europe and Canada, and returned home in 1869, following President Johnson’s proclamation of amnesty. He died May 17, 1875.

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Richard Nixon

The second youngest vice president to take office was Richard Nixon (he celebrated his 40th birthday 11 days before taking the oath of office). After serving two terms as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president, Nixon lost the very close presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960, and then became the only former vice president to be elected president in 1968 (and the only president to resign, in 1974).

The Five Oldest Presidents

Considered by age at inauguration, the list runs as follows:

1. Donald Trump was 70 years 220 days old when he was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. If Joe Biden wins this year’s election, he will break that record at the age of 78 years 61 days.

2. Ronald Reagan was 17 days shy of his 70th birthday when he was inaugurated on January 20, 1989, and 17 days shy of his 78th birthday when he retired eight years later.

3. William Henry Harrison was 68 years 23 days old when he was inaugurated on March 4, 1841. The president who served the shortest term (31 days), he was the first to die in office, so he was only 68 years 54 days old when he left office.

4. James Buchanan was 65 years 315 days old when he was inaugurated in 1857, and 69 years 315 days old when he retired from office.

5. George H.W. Bush was 64 years 222 days old when he succeeded Reagan, in 1989, and 68 years 222 days old when he left office.

Considering age at the time the President left office, Dwight David Eisenhower moves into third place. He was only 62 years 98 days old when he was inaugurated in 1953, putting him seventh on the list, but serving two full terms (he and Reagan are the only two on this list to have served eight years as president), he was 70 years 98 days old when he retired.

The Five Youngest Presidents:

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution requires a president to be at least 35 years old.

1. Theodore Roosevelt. Born on October 27, 1858, he was 42 years 322 days old when he was inaugurated on September 14, 1901, after William McKinley was assassinated. To beat Roosevelt’s record as the youngest president in the election of 2024, the newly elected president will have to have been born after March 4, 1982.

2. John F. Kennedy. Born on May 29, 1917, he was 43 years 236 days old when he took the oath of office on January 20, 1961, after winning the election of 1960. To beat Kennedy’s record as the youngest president elected, the winner of the election of 2008 will have to have been born after May 29, 1981.

3. Bill Clinton. Born on August 19, 1946, he was 46 years 154 days old when he was inaugurated on January 20, 1993.

4. Ulysses S. Grant. Born on April 27, 1822, he was 46 years 311 days old when he was inaugurated on March 4, 1869.

5. Barack Obama. Born August 4, 1961, he was 47 years 169 days old when he was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

In order to join this list (and knock Obama off), the president who wins the election of 2024 will have to have been born after August 4, 1977.

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Science Fictionally Productive

In the days of LiveJournal, it was “three things make a blog post.” Well, today it was more than three, but it was very productive science fictionally, and felt quite good.

First, there was a productive session of editing a novel Fantastic Books will soon be publishing.

Then I took a very nice walk in the woods. Found an interesting group of green acorns on a fallen piece of branch, and saw a rabbit on the way back.

Then I looked at my email, and found a contract! It’s a story the editor had told me he was buying three months ago, but it didn’t feel “official.” Now, reading the contract, it feels much better, almost official. My next appearance in Analog will be a short-short story called “On the Rocks”!

Then I checked the other email account, and found two messages. One, telling me the panel I’d recorded for ConTinual way back when will finally be posted tomorrow morning, about 9:30. You can access ConTinual at Facebook.com/groups/ConTinual, and I’ll add in a link to the panel when it’s available. The panel was about the enduring and growing legacy of “The Eye of Argon,” with Keith R.A. DeCandido, Hildy Silverman, and Michael A. Ventrella. [Edited: here’s the link for the Facebook-hosted video: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ConTinual/permalink/690968394849069/ ]

The other message gave me my schedule for virtual Capclave (online on October 17). At 3:00pm Eastern time, I’ll be talking about “Writing Time Travel and Paradoxes” with Iver P. Cooper, A.T. Greenblatt, and James Morrow. And then, at 4:30, it will be “Centennial Superstars” with Walter H. Hunt and Barbara Krasnoff.

So, yes, it was a pretty good day.

P.S. – I still hate this new “blocks” editor for blog posts. I’ve read several articles, but still can’t figure out how to put the image in a paragraph of text and run the text around it (like I used to be able to). Instead (as you can see above), all I’ve been able to figure out is to post the picture as its own paragraph (“block”), which is just ugly.

The Frisson of Joy

We all strive for the big happinesses in life—winning awards, achieving financial success, finding mutual lust—but the little ones are no less sweet, though they are much easier to come by. There are a lot of little things which bring me joy that I rarely think about when I’m not actually experiencing them in the moment:

Going back to bed for another hour.

Using my back scratcher to get just the right spot.

That moment when I’m mixing the dough, and it suddenly turns from a variegated pile of ingredients—a lump of this, a splash of that—into a smooth, homogenous mixture that’s all the same color and texture, just like I need it to be.

When the swimming pool is precisely the right temperature.

Taking an extra little slice of pie, an extra cookie, or a just little bit more dessert.

Lying down in bed, and pulling the top sheet over me, and it billows and slowly settles onto me, lightly touching me here and then there…

Sneezing.

The last hiccup (if only I knew it was going to be the last).

When I go outside in the morning, and I look down the sidewalk, and my vision (even though I wear glasses) is absolutely, totally sharp and clear. I feel like I can see forever: every individual leaf on each tree, separate blades of grass, all the way down past the intersection, and past the next intersection… the most perfect vision possible, it almost feels hyper-real, and I don’t want to blink because then my vision will go back to normal.

A nice, cleansing rain, and the smell of petrichor.

Learning a nifty new word, like petrichor.

When I wear shorts and no shoes, it’s normal. When I wear pants and socks and shoes, that, too, is an unremarkable feeling. But there’s an uncommon feeling of comfort, of being at home and relaxed, when I wear long pants and no socks or shoes, like if my socks got wet, so I took them off.

Wearing that super comfortable sweater or sweatshirt the first day it really feels like autumn.

Arriving precisely on time without really trying.

Seeing a few dollars in the tip jar at the end of the day.

So, what surprising little things bring you that frisson of joy?

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I forgot to go outside, because I was outside.

The last few days, I’ve spent working at the computer inside until about 5:00pm, when the sun dips far enough that the place where I sit outside to carve is no longer in direct sunlight. Then I go outside and carve for a while (it’s relaxing; using the hands instead of the brain, and being creative). Today, after two straight hours of Zooming, I realized the back of the deck was already in shadow, and it’s a very nice day, so I dragged the computer outside to surf and work. Now it’s 6:30, and I’ve just realized I didn’t do any carving. So, a nice day outside, but because I was outside, I didn’t think to come outside. <moue of irony>

Donald Trump may have said something mean. Why do you think it’s news?

I had the television on in the background while I was working today, and eventually realized I was listening to CNN talking about the article in The Atlantic which claims President Donald Trump said nasty things about American soldiers. They spent half an hour talking about it. Half an hour wasting their time and efforts, talking about something absolutely meaningless. Then I heard similar discussions on other news programs, read headlines pointing to several articles on line, and even my mother mentioned it to me on the phone.

If he said those things the article claims, no one’s opinion of him is going to change. No staunch Trump supporter is going to read that and say “Oh, well, that changed my mind. I can’t support him.” Neither will it change the mind of anyone who disagrees with him. And it’s doubtful such a comment—reportedly from an anonymous source—will have any effect on those who are undecided.

But what all that half hour of talk, all those articles, Joe Biden’s commentary in today’s speech, as well as every other pundit talking about it… what all of that did was make the Trump re-election campaign chortle with glee. Now, all they have to do is say “no, he didn’t say that.” They don’t have to say anything about what Donald Trump is actually doing, don’t have to talk about the fact that he is not only a bad president, but is actually malfeasant in office. They don’t have to talk about the fact that rather than uniting the United States of America, he is actively trying to divide us. They don’t have to talk about the fact that rather than leading the drive to minimize the damage of the pandemic, he’s leading the drive to ignore it and let it run rampant. Heck, they don’t have to do anything positive for as long as this distracting story lasts.

It’s part of an ongoing theme, Donald Trump’s entire presidential strategy: “What can I do to distract people from reality, so they’ll waste all their time and effort on irrelevancies?” It’s just the latest irrelevancy.

I can’t really fault the news media: their job is to sell advertising, and they do it by attracting viewers and readers. And we are weak-willed enough to truly lap up this nonsense, each time it appears.

But we, the consumers, the citizens, the people who truly matter in this country: we are failing. We are failing by allowing ourselves to be distracted by this nonsense. I came to this realization, and I turned the channel. I didn’t bother reading those news articles. I tried to point out this campaign of diversion to my mother.

Donald Trump babbles. He talks and talks, throwing out whatever nonsense he can in a never-ending attempt to distract and appall his viewers. The more appalled we are, the more we’ll watch. And the more distracted we are, the less we’ll pay attention to the things that matter.

What matters? Treating each other with dignity, the way we wanted to be treated.

What matters? Working together to keep each other safe from a deadly virus, while our scientists work to find a cure and a vaccine.

What matters? Treating the environment with the same dignity with which we should treat each other, so that our children have a healthy world in which to live.

What doesn’t matter? Whether or not Donald Trump said something that insulted some people. Take it as a given: he insults people. How many other adults continue to use insulting nicknames for people they don’t like, after they leave high school?

What matters? Voting in this year’s election. Not just for president, but also for Congress.

I’m not a big fan of Joe Biden, but you can bet your ass I’m going to vote for him. Because I think he understands what it truly means to be the President of the United States of America, rather than Donald Trump’s position as president of doing whatever he wants for the people he likes and flipping off everyone else.

I live in New York’s ninth Congressional district, so my vote matters not at all. The straight Democratic ticket is going to take far more than 50% of the votes in this district. The votes that matter are the votes of the people who live in Florida, in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin… Are you one of those voters? Seriously consider your options. Do you know someone who lives in one of those states? Tell them why their vote is important.

But stop falling for the sleight-of-hand that is Donald Trump’s way of life. Stop being distracted by his theatre meant to grab your attention. Instead, keep your attention where it needs to be: on his never-ending campaign to divide and conquer his own country, his never-ending campaign to enrich himself and his friends, his blatant incompetence, and his villainy in the face of a major crisis that would have caused any other president to rise to the challenge.

Memories… and differences

Random memory while opening a can of tuna for dinner (I just did not feel like cooking):

During the blackout of 2003, I walked from my office on Wall Street, over the Brooklyn Bridge (don’t think you can see me in this picture), through Brooklyn, along Flatbush Avenue past the zoo (where a couple of volunteers had a hose out through the gates to the sidewalk, refilling water bottles for those of us walking by), and along Ocean Avenue. It took just over five hours. I got to the apartment building about an hour after sunset, just after full dark.

Walked up to the third floor apartment, I took a shower in the dark, and then went into the kitchen. I opened a can of tuna, and ate it straight from the can, standing in the kitchen.

Then it was a long night of trying to make contact with the family (fortunately, we had a rotary phone plugged directly into a wall jack—in this era of all digital, internet-based telephony, I doubt there would have been any contact), trying to figure out what happened, sleeping with the windows open, and then spending a fairly lazy day (until the power came back).

Tonight’s can of tuna was significantly different. I paired it with the left-over vegetables from last night, microwaved, and followed it up with a piece of the pie I made yesterday (after a day in the refrigerator, the formerly crumbly crust has stiffened up a bit to flaky, which is good). And now I’m sitting here comfortably with the lights on. Though once again, I’m here alone.

Ah, differences… and memories.

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The Blazing-World

1515424162During the era of Covid-19, I haven’t announced many new book publications, because the bulk of Fantastic Books‘s publicity engine runs through in-person science fiction conventions (where we also make a significant percentage of our sales), so I’ve taken the company into semi-hibernation: still doing business, but cutting back to maintain the company’s health.

But now, as the pandemic drags on, I’m looking for ways to get the business going again in this new (and hopefully temporary) world. We’ve got a couple of reprint novels lined up, and I’m planning how to release a couple of original titles that I put on hold back in March. Today, I’m pleased to announce our republication of Margaret Cavendish’s classic novel The Description of a New World called The Blazing-World. This proto-science fiction novel—by one of the first female authors to write under her own name—is set in a utopian world. The Blazing-World is parallel to the Earth we know, entered via a passage at the North Pole. The story tells of the invasion of our world led by the empress of the Blazing-World, a refugee from our own.

Originally published in 1666, Fantastic Books’s 2020 edition includes an introduction by, well, me. Check it out!

Vice Presidents Running to be President? Madness.

Joe Biden is about to claim the Democratic nomination for President. He ran his primary campaign on the fact that he was Vice President during Barack Obama’s administration. That got me thinking about other Vice Presidents who ran for the Presidency. Well, my first thought was that Richard Nixon is the only person to serve as Vice President, retire from that office, and then later run for and win the Presidency (he was Dwight Eisenhower’s Vice President from 1953 to 1961, and then elected President in the election of 1968).

For this discussion, I’m ignoring the Vice Presidents who succeeded to the Presidency upon the death or resignation of their President: John Tyler following William Henry Harrison’s death in 1841, Millard Fillmore following Zachary Taylor’s death in 1863, Andrew Johnson following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, Chester Arthur following James Garfield’s assassination in 1881, Theodore Roosevelt following William McKinley’s assassination in 1901, Calvin Coolidge following Warren Harding’s death in 1923, Harry Truman following Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Lyndon Johnson following John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and Gerald Ford following Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

02adamsIn 1796, George Washington announced he was retiring from the presidency, not running for a third term. His vice president, John Adams, was the heir apparent, and won the election of 1796 to become the second president. At that time, whoever came in second in the electoral college balloting was declared the vice president, which is how Thomas Jefferson wound up as Adams’ vice president. In 1800, Jefferson beat Adams to be elected the third president, and we stopped electing vice presidents to the presidency for quite a while (we also changed the method of choosing the vice president, because Aaron Burr put up a fuss).

08vanburenIn 1832, Martin Van Buren was elected vice president for Andrew Jackson’s second term. Midway through that term, Jackson had some thoughts about resigning so Van Buren could become president immediately, but he didn’t. In the election of 1836, Vice President Van Buren was elected to succeed Jackson in the presidency. And that’s the last time we elected a current Vice President to be President until George H.W. Bush (who was serving his second term under Ronald Reagan) won the top job in 1988.

14breckinridgeJohn C. Breckinridge was the 14th Vice President, from 1857 to 1861 (serving under James Buchanan). Born in January 1821, he was the youngest vice president, taking office 47 days after his 36th birthday. In the election of 1860, Breckinridge was the presidential nominee of the Democratic party. He came in third in the popular vote in the severely divided country (he got about 18% of the vote), but second in the electoral college (which voted 180 for Abraham Lincoln, 72 for Breckinridge, 39 for John Bell, and 12 for Stephen Douglas). At the same time, his home state of Kentucky elected Brecknridge to the Senate. Breckinridge swore in his successor as vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, and then Hamlin turned around and swore in the new senators, including Breckinridge, on March 4, 1861. With the commencement of Civil War hostilities, Breckinridge—a southern sympathizer—returned home, and eventually joined the fighting on the Confederate side. The Senate declared him a traitor, and expelled him on December 4, 1861. In February 1865, Breckinridge was appointed the fifth, and last, Secretary of War of the Confederacy. The post was abolished in May 1865. After the war, Breckenridge went into exile in Europe and Canada, and returned to the US in 1869. He worked in insurance and as a lawyer, and died in 1875.

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Adlai Stevenson (born in 1835) was the 23rd Vice President, serving during Grover Cleveland’s second (non-consecutive) term from 1893 to 1897. In 1896, he had very little support at the Democratic convention to succeed Cleveland. Instead, they nominated William Jennings Bryan for the first time (of three). In 1900, Stevenson was the nominee for vice president with Bryan. This made him the fourth vice president to run for that post with two different presidential candidates, after George Clinton (Thomas Jefferson’s second and James Madison’s first vice president), John C. Calhoun (John Quincy Adams’ only and Andrew Jackson’s first vice president), and Thomas A. Hendricks (the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for vice president in 1876, and Grover Cleveland’s vice president from March 1885 until his death in November of that year). The only other one to try for the vice presidency with two difference presidential candidates was Charles W. Fairbanks, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president from 1905 to 1909, and then the unsuccessful Republican nominee in 1916 on Charles Evans Hughes’ ticket. Stevenson died in 1914. His son, Lewis G., was Illinois secretary of state (1914–1917). His grandson and namesake, Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, was the Democratic candidate for president in 1952 and 1956 (and governor of Illinois). His great-grandson, Adlai Ewing Stevenson III, was a senator from Illinois from 1970 to 1981.

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In 1940, 52-year-old Henry A. Wallace was elected vice president to serve during Franklin Roosevelt’s third term as president (after Roosevelt and his first vice president, John Nance Garner, had a falling-out over Roosevelt’s decision to run for a third term, while Garner assumed it was his turn to be president). Wallace had been Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture since 1933 (his father, Henry C. Wallace, had held the same post from 1921 to 1924). At the 1944 Democratic Convention, party leaders were uncomfortable with the thought of Wallace becoming president (since Roosevelt’s survival—even to them—seemed iffy at best), so they forced Roosevelt to drop him from the ticket, and chose Harry Truman instead. After the election, Wallace left office, and Roosevelt appointed him Secretary of Commerce. Roosevelt died three months into his fourth term, in April 1945, and Truman succeeded him. Truman fired Wallace in September 1946, in retaliation for Wallace’s speech urging conciliatory policies toward the Soviet Union. Wallace and his supporters then formed the Progressive Party, which nominated Wallace for the presidency in 1948 (the American Labor party also nominated him). Wallace got 2.4 percent of the popular vote, and then broke with the Progressive Party in 1950 over the Korean War. In 1952, he published a book called Where I Was Wrong, in which he declared the Soviet Union to be “utterly evil.” Wallace died in 1965.

38humphreyHubert Humphrey was born in 1911 in South Dakota, but is remembered for his relationship with Minnesota. He represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1949 to 1964. In 1952, he vied for the Democratic presidential nomination, but lost out to Adlai Stevenson. In 1960, he tried again, and lost to John Kennedy. In 1956, Stevenson was the presidential nominee for the second time, but at the convention, he decided to create some excitement, and made a surprise announcement that the convention’s delegates would choose his running mate. This set off a one-day free-for-all scramble to win the nomination. The candidates included eventual nominee Senator Estes Kefauver, relative unknown freshman Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy (who came in a strong second), Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (whose son and namesake would be Vice President under Bill Clinton), and Humphrey, who received 134 votes out of the 600-plus necessary to win the nomination. (That donnybrook was the last time any presidential or vice presidential nomination of either the Democratic or Republican parties, went past the first ballot.) After losing the 1960 nomination race, Humphrey thought he was unlikely to ever become President unless he served as Vice President first, as that, he felt, was the only path he could follow to raise the money and build the nationwide organization and visibility he would need to win the nomination. (Though, as we’ve seen, excepting succession upon death, the vice presidency is a far less certain path to the presidency than a seat in the Senate or a governorship.) So he angled for the vice presidency in 1964 with President Lyndon Johnson (who had no vice president because John Kennedy died in office, and the 25th Amendment hadn’t been adopted yet), was chosen, and won that election. Humphrey resigned from his Senate seat, and was replaced by Walter Mondale (who would serve as Vice President from 1977 to 1981). On March 31, 1968, a week before the Wisconsin primary, President Johnson surprised everyone when he announced he was not going to run for a second full term. Humphrey announced his candidacy on April 27, won the nomination, and went on to lose the election to Richard Nixon. In 1970, Senator Eugene McCarthy also made a surprise announcement, declining to seek re-election, and Humphrey, who hadn’t planned to return to politics, jumped into the race, won the nomination, and then was elected to the Senate. He again represented Minnesota in the Senate, from 1971 until his death in 1978 (his wife, Muriel, was appointed to his seat until a special election was held to replace him).

42mondaleWalter Mondale was born in Minnesota in 1928, and was appointed to the Senate when Humphrey resigned to become Vice President. Mondale kept the Senate seat until his own election as Vice President in 1976 on Jimmy Carter’s ticket. In 1980, Carter and Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan’s overwhelming election victory. In 1984, Mondale was the Democratic nominee for president (and the first major party nominee to choose a female running mate: New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro). Mondale lost to Reagan’s landslide re-election. Mondale then return to the practice of law. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Mondale Ambassador to Japan (he served in that post until 1996). In 2002, Mondale stepped up to run for his old Senate seat as a last-minute replacement for Paul Wellstone, who had been killed in an airplane crash during the final two weeks of his re-election campaign. Mondale lost a close election to Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. He is the oldest former Vice President, since George H.W. Bush’s death in 2018. The longest-lived Vice President was John Nance Garner, who died two weeks before his 99th birthday.

44quayleJames Danforth “Dan” Quayle was born in 1947 in Indiana, represented Indiana in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981, and in the Senate from 1981 until he was elected Vice President on George H.W. Bush’s ticket in 1988. Following their one term in the White House, Quayle opted out of running for the Republican nomination for President in 1996, but challenged George W. Bush for the nomination in 2000. He came in a distant eighth in the Ames Straw Poll of August 1999, and withdrew from the race in September. Dan Quayle lives in Arizona, and his son, Benjamin, represented Arizona in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.

45goreAl Gore is the only president or vice president to have been born in Washington, DC (in 1948). His father, Albert Gore, Sr., represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives (1939 to 1953) and the Senate (1953 to 1971). Al, Junior, represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives (1977 to 1985) and the Senate (1985 to 1993). In 1988, he ran for the presidential nomination, winning seven states and coming in third. In 1992, he was Bill Clinton’s running mate; at the ages of 45 and 44, they were the youngest presidential-vice presidential duo to be elected. In the election of 2000, Gore was the Democratic nominee for President, and won the popular vote by just over 500,000 votes (out of 105 million votes cast), but lost the Electoral College vote, 271-to-266 (with one abstention), to George W. Bush. Gore’s 266 electoral votes is the highest total for a losing candidate. Gore was the first person since Grover Cleveland in 1888 to win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College (Cleveland won in 1884 and 1892). The other two were Rutherford Hayes in 1876, and John Quincy Adams in 1824. Gore was also the the first major-party presidential candidate to lose his home state (Tennessee) since George McGovern lost South Dakota in 1972.

37nixonAnd then there was Richard Milhous Nixon. Born in 1913 in California, the second of five brothers, he graduated from Whittier College and Duke University School of Law. He practiced law in California, and met his wife, Pat, in a community theatre group. In 1942, the Nixons moved to Washington, DC, and Richard got a job in the Office of Price Administration, which he did not enjoy. Later in the year, he enlisted in the Navy as a lieutenant junior grade. He served in logistics and administration during World War II, and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in March 1946. After the war, he returned to California, and was elected to the House of Representatives in the election of 1946. He was re-elected in 1948, and then elected to the Senate in 1950. At the age of 39, the Republican party nominated Nixon for Vice President on Dwight Eisenhower’s ticket, and they won re-election in 1956. In 1960, Nixon ran (with Eisenhower’s tepid support) for the presidency against Massachusetts Senator John Kennedy. Kennedy won by fewer than 112,000 votes (out of 68.8 million), and won the electoral vote 303-to-219 (with 15 for Robert Byrd). In 1962, Nixon ran for the governorship of California against incumbent Pat Brown, but lost by 5%. In an impromptu concession speech the morning after the election, Nixon blamed the media, saying, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.” In 1964, he supported Barry Goldwater’s losing campaign against Lyndon Johnson, and in 1966, he campaigned for many Republicans running for Congress. In late 1967, he decided to run for President again, won the Republican nomination of 1968, and ran against sitting Vice President Hubert Humphrey. He won the popular vote by 500,000 votes (0.7% in a three-way race, with George Wallace a distant third), and the electoral college 301–191–46. His 1972 re-election was one of the largest electoral landslides in American politics (he beat George McGovern in the popular vote count, 47.2 million to 29.2 million, 60.7 to 37.5%; and in the Electoral College, 520-to-17). Nixon resigned the presidency in August 1974, and died in 1993.

47bidenWhich brings us to Joseph Robinette Biden, Junior. Born in Pennsylvania on November 20, 1942, he earned his law degree from Syracuse University in 1969, and started practicing in Delaware that same year. In 1970, he was elected to the New Castle County Council, and in 1972, before his 30th birthday, he was elected to the Senate. His birthday came before he took his seat, and he became the sixth youngest US Senator ever. On December 18, 1972, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash (his two sons were injured), and he considered resigning from the Senate to care for his sons, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield convinced him not to. Biden served in the Senate from 1973 until 2009. He sought the Democratic nomination for president in both 1988 and 2008. In 2008, Barack Obama won the nomination, and chose Biden as his running mate. In 2015, following the death of his son, Biden opted to not seek the presidential nomination. But in 2019, he chose to run for the third time, and is now poised to run for the presidency.

 

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