When people talk about the office the vice president of the United States, it's almost inevitable that someone reaches back into history toward FDR's two-term second-in-command, John Nance Garner, who memorably described the office as being "not worth a bucket of warm piss." The remark is said to have made Roosevelt laugh out loud when it was conveyed to him and it's been passed down as the conventional wisdom about the office ever since. It was hammered home by Garner's statement in retirement — that accepting the nomination had been "the worst damn fool mistake I ever made."
But for the past 16 years or more, the job of the vice president has been very different from the one Nance despised. Joe Biden in the Obama White House and Dick Cheney under George W. Bush were both deeply engaged in formulating administration policy and marshaling support in Congress. At critical times in both administrations, both Cheney and Biden were deputized to negotiate with lawmakers and to strike deals that both sides understood the president would honor.
More from The Fiscal Times:
It's unclear just what role Vice President Mike Pence is playing in the administration, how empowered he will be with regard to politics and policymaking, and, frankly, how much weight his word will carry on Capitol Hill. That's because this week it became clear that the vice president is not in President Trump's inner circle.
In January, with rumors swirling about his alleged contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office, now former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn told Pence that he had not discussed lifting economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. Pence then went on national television to repeat Flynn's claims.
On January 26, the Justice Department informed the White House that Flynn had apparently misled Pence and other members of the administration. According to multiple reports, wiretap intelligence indicated that he had discussed sanctions with the Russian Ambassador.