Jack Tame: Is Veep the worst job in politics?

Biden swooped in and dominated the contest between the respective running mates. Photo / AP
Biden swooped in and dominated the contest between the respective running mates. Photo / AP

Joe Biden's the kind of Veep you want to sit by at Christmas dinner. Would his boss be a better name drop? Sure.

Would one of the Bush presidents or even Hillary Clinton sound more impressive to your friends? Absolutely.

But you'd be guaranteed that an audience with Joe Biden would make for better belly laughs. And your Nan? Steel yourself. She'd be absolutely, weirdly, smitten.

Part of Biden's charm is his fantastic capacity to boldly embrace his regular gaffes.

Unlike George W Bush, whose Bushisms were usually delivered with grammatical confusion, Joe Biden often shouts his best mistakes aloud.

There was the time he spelled out Barack Obama's "favourite three-letter word". Yes, he told his campaign stop audience, Obama is dedicated to "J-O-B-S".

It was almost as good as the time he joined Obama as the president signed the historic Obamacare bill into law.

Filmed by however many cameras with microphones at the ready, Biden leaned to his boss as Obama picked up the pen. "This is a big f***ing deal.*

My personal favourite Bidenism is a toss-up between the time he introduced Bammy as "President Barack America" and the time he assured supporters,

"I promise you, the President has a big stick."

All of which bodes well for the Veep's visit down under. Though Biden probably won't have much time on the ground this week, he's actually much more exciting and charming in the flesh than the president would be.

The power and impact of vice presidents can be hard to quantify. If you believe the HBO show, VEEP, which many Washington staffers reckon is a disturbingly accurate portrayal of the debauched and chaotic reality in US capital, Vice President of the United States is the worst job in federal politics.

No little kids grow up wanting to become the Veep.

But Biden has proved a worthwhile Robin to Batman Barack. Obama has trusted him with responsibility and authority and the men are in regular contact. And for every gaffe - there aren't quite enough for a rip-a-page-calendar just yet - he's stood by his President and scrapped like the best.

When Obama floundered in his TV debate against Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential race, Biden swooped in and dominated the contest between the respective running mates.

Which makes Trump and Clinton's Veep decisions all the more intriguing.

A bad choice for vice president can really throw a campaign.

John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin soon proved to be a humiliating error: while she still boasts a bit of grassroots-hockey-mum support, the prospect of Palin in the White House is the only recent political absurdity to challenge Donald Trump.

And while candidates are all vetted and scrutinised, and Hillary Clinton was never going to choose anyone even marginally radical, Team Trump has flirted with some controversial men.

Chris Christie is blamed for one of American politics' most spiteful acts: the decision to shut down the world's busiest bridge to punish a political rival. Newt Gingrich still hasn't paid off the debt from his last presidential campaign and, for a Christian, has recorded an alarming number of sordid scandals.

Which leaves us with Mike Pence.

The Governor of Indiana didn't even endorse Trump during the primary campaign, but Pence defines safe.

He's dull. A calm antidote to Trump's impulsion and offence .

He might be just the right amount of "meh" to boost Republican chances.

Still, I'm sure if it were solely up to the man in charge, The Don wouldn't have chosen any of the aforementioned men.

There aren't many cool heads from whom he takes advice but one, above all others, apparently has his ear.

Ivanka for Veep.

Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9am-noon.

- Herald on Sunday

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