Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

October 10, 2012

House of Burgess: Insignificant office, significant debate

After watching last week’s presidential debate, even the most hardcore political junkies can be excused for thinking: “Is this what it has come to?”

Democrat Barack Obama looked completely disinterested, constantly looking down as if he was texting under his podium. Meanwhile, Republican Mitt Romney had a frightening sparkle in his eyes as he told moderator and executive editor of PBS NewsHour, Jim Lehrer, he intended to fire both him and Big Bird were he to be elected. But if you can only stand one more debate before casting your ballot, let it be Thursday’s vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky. between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden.

But why is it important to pay attention to a debate between two men seeking a position John Adams, the country’s first vice president, described as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”? It’s because the unbridled id of each party will be on full display for one night. If history serves as any guide, the vice presidential debates are a chance for the country to hear what political parties actually think. It’s almost like listening to the respective party’s inner monologue.

Since 1976, the televised vice presidential debate has been a staple, often producing some of the most memorable quotations. Like in 1976 when Republican Bob Dole tried to pin all the American war deaths in Vietnam, World War II, World War I and the Korean War on the Democratic Party.

“I figured up the other day, if we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it’d be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit,” he said.

Democrats would have their revenge in 1988 when Sen. Lloyd Bentsen verbally body slammed Sen. Dan Quayle.

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