culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Edwards vs. Giuliani, or Clinton vs. Cheney? The vice presidential race may actually become more interesting than the presidential (
Houston Chronicle):
Amid this conjecture [of Kerry's choice for vice president], however, one name is conspicuously absent: Bill Clinton.

Clinton's strengths would compensate for Kerry's weaknesses almost perfectly. Not only is Clinton the most talented campaigner of his generation, but he is also a Southerner -- and since 1948, when Harry S. Truman chose Sen. Alben Barkley of Kentucky as his running mate, every successful Democratic ticket has included a citizen of a Southern state.

Besides, people might even pay to watch Bill Clinton debate Dick Cheney. So why not?

The first objection, the constitutional one, can be disposed of easily. The Constitution does not prevent Clinton from running for vice president. The 22nd Amendment, which became effective in 1951, begins: "No person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice."

No problem. Bill Clinton would be running for vice president, not president. Scholars and judges can debate how loosely constitutional language should be interpreted, but one need not be a strict constructionist to find this language clear beyond dispute. Bill Clinton cannot be elected president, but nothing stops him from being elected vice president.

True, if Clinton were vice president he would be in line for the presidency. But Clinton would succeed Kerry not by election, which the amendment forbids, but through Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which provides that if a president dies, resigns or is removed from office, his powers "shall devolve on the vice president." The 22nd Amendment would not prevent this succession.
Not that Bill Clinton would want the job, but the speculative weight of this idea is golden.

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