The Vice Presidential Debate: Man in the Street Answers

Meet Joe Biden.
Suppose you were stopped in the street and asked the same questions that Senator Biden and Governor Palin had to answer last night. How would you answer? Would you be smooth and coherent or so rickety you would be told to be on your way? I wondered how I would answer the questions so I found a transcript of the debate and copied the questions into a file, leaving a space between each question. I printed the file and then quickly wrote my response to each question, kind of simulating being asked the questions in real-time. Here are my answers. Remember, I answered them quickly without benefit of thought or research, so go easy on me. If you wish, answer some of them yourself in the comments. I’ve edited the questions for brevity and relevancy.

1. The Senate passed a big bailout bill and the House is wrestling with it still tonight. Is this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw play out?

This is the worst of Washington. They even added $150-billion in side-issue tax measures. Those who voted this measure in should be voted out.

2. If you were vice president, would you work to shrink this gap of polarization which has sprung up in Washington?

Just treat those who you meet with respect and value their point of view. Give credit to the opposing party where it is due.

3. Who do you think was at fault in the sub-prime lending meltdown? Was it the greedy lenders? Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn’t have been buying a home in the first place? And what should you be doing about it?

If you want to be greedy in your lending that is your affair. If you want to take a risk and buy more home than you can afford that is your prerogative. Once you get a taxpayer funded bailout then that’s everyone’s business. Lenders, borrowers, and government are all to blame. But especially government for adding billions of dollars in debt with a foolhardy bailout.
Sarah Palin
4. Is proposing to raise taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year not class warfare? A proposal to tax employer health benefits which some studies say would actually throw five million more people onto the roles of the uninsured. I want to know why that isn’t taking things out on the poor.

One of the best ways to tax is by everyone paying the same percentage of their income, if you must tax income. That way the poorest to the richest pay towards running their country. This is also not the time to tax health benefits.

5. What promises have you made that you’re not going to be able to keep?

I suspect there will always be promises that politicians won’t be able to keep. As for myself, I rarely make promises so there are precious few to break.

6. Last year, Congress passed a bill that would make it more difficult for debt-strapped mortgage-holders to declare bankruptcy, to get out from under that debt. Would you have supported this?

Yes. It should be difficult to declare bankruptcy. Debt should be paid off, even if it takes a long time.

7. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?

As in the past the earth’s climate is changing today. This is probably due to natural climatic changes. More research is needed to establish if there is a man-made component.

8. Do you support caps on carbon emissions? Do you support clean coal technology?

I don’t support either. Coal should be used until there is a better domestic substitute.

9. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?


10. Would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?


11. What is a clear plan for an exit strategy in Iraq?

An exit can begin immediately. Financial resources need to be conserved. We can no longer afford to be an army of occupation.

12. What’s the greater threat, a nuclear Iran or an unstable Afghanistan? Explain why.

Afghanistan should be left to itself. It hasn’t the resources to be a threat and any army of occupation will eventually grow weary and have to withdraw. Iran is more of a threat because of future nuclear capability. However, with the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. becomes a viable check against Iran.

13. Secretaries of state Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?

You don’t need to talk to enemies, just defend against any malfeasance they try to inflict.

14. What has this administration done right or wrong — this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — what have they done? And is a two-state solution the solution?

This administration has done no worse than prior administrations. Two separate states is the solution.

15. Interventionism, nuclear weapons, what should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

Each situation is different. In wartime, the use of nuclear weapons should be an option.

16. How would a Biden administration be different from an Obama administration?

It would be different, just as a Palin administration would be different from a McCain administration. Reviewing their passions and voting and governing records would give some clues as to their direction.

17. What do you think the vice presidency is worth now?

The vice president is the first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also the President of the Senate. Support of personal charities and good causes could be promoted.

18. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?


19. Gov. Palin’s Achilles heel is that you she lacks experience. Sen. Biden’s Achilles heel is that he lacks discipline. What do you think it really is?

After listening to both candidates I think they would both make fine vice presidents and even presidents.

20. Can you think of a single policy issue in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?

I would think that some views would have to be changed depending upon circumstances.
Rickety signature.

Vice Presidential Questions

The Seal of the Vice President of the United States.
Yesterday the question was asked by a co-worker, “If a vice president dies, how do we get a new vice president?” We racked our rickety brains but nobody knew so I researched the question and added a few more.

How is the Vice President Replaced?

The 25th amendment provides for a replacement if the vice president dies in office, resigns, or succeeds to the presidency. In the original Constitution there is no provision for selecting a replacement, so the office remained vacant until the beginning of the next presidential term. The issue arose in 1963 when Vice President Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon the assassination of President Kennedy and was rectified by section 2 of the 25th Amendment.

Section 2 of the 25th Amendment provides that:

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Who was the First Vice President Selected by this Method?

After the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1973 Gerald Ford was the first vice president selected by this method. Ford then nominated Nelson Rockefeller as vice president.

When can a Vice President Become Acting President?

Sections 3 and 4 of Amendment 25 provide means for the vice president to become Acting President upon the temporary disability of the president. Section 3 deals with self declared incapacity of the president, and section 4, which has never been invoked, deals with incapacity declared by the joint action of the Vice President and of a majority of the Cabinet.

Section 3 has was invoked in 1985 when Ronald Reagan underwent surgery and twice more in 2002 and 2007 when George W. Bush underwent colonoscopy procedures requiring sedation.

Who is Eligible to be Vice President?

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that:

…no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Unlike the president, there is no restriction of the number of terms a person can serve as vice president. To serve as vice president, an individual must be a natural born U.S. citizen no younger than 35 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
Sarah Palin may be the first woman vice president.

Is There an Oath of Office?

The United States Constitution does not specify an oath of office for the vice president. A vice presidential oath, which has been used in various forms since 1789, is also recited by Senators, Representatives and other government officers.

What are the Duties of the Vice President?

Vice presidential powers are limited by the Constitution to becoming president should the President become unable to serve and acting as the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate. Informal roles of the vice president often include drafter and spokesperson for the administration’s policy, as an adviser to the president, as Chairman of the Board of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as a Member of the board of the Smithsonian Institution, and as a symbol of American concern or support. They may meet with other heads of state or attend state funerals in other countries, at times when the administration wishes to demonstrate concern or support but cannot send the President himself.

Where does the Vice President Live?

Since 1974, the official residence of the vice president and his family has been Number One Observatory Circle, on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

Has a Vice President Ever Resigned?

  1. John C. Calhoun in 1832 to take a seat in the Senate.
  2. Spiro Agnew in 1973 upon pleading no contest to charges of accepting bribes while governor of Maryland.

Did any Die in Office?

  1. George Clinton in 1812.
  2. Elbridge Gerry in 1814.
  3. William R. King in 1853.
  4. Henry Wilson in 1875.
  5. Thomas Hendricks in 1885.
  6. Garret Hobart in 1899.
  7. James Sherman in 1912.

Were any Assassinated?

  • Andrew Johnson was an unsuccessful target of the same conspiracy which murdered President Abraham Lincoln.
  • Thomas R. Marshall was an unsuccessful target of a letter bomb in 1915.
  • Dick Cheney was in the vicinity of a bomb allegedly meant for him.

Which Vice Presidents Succeeded to the Presidency?

  1. John Tyler when William Harrison died.
  2. Millard Fillmore when Zachary Taylor died.
  3. Andrew Johnson when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
  4. Chester A. Arthur when James Garfield was assassinated.
  5. Theodore Roosevelt when William McKinley was assassinated.
  6. Calvin Coolidge when Warren Harding died.
  7. Harry S. Truman when Franklin D. Roosevelt died.
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
  9. Gerald Ford when Richard Nixon resigned.

Have any Vice Presidents won the Nobel Peace Prize?

  1. Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 (when he was the President).
  2. Charles Gates Dawes in 1925.
  3. Al Gore in 2007 (after he left the office).

Rickety signature.