Walter “Fritz” Mondale, who died last week, re-defined the vice presidency and for the most part his successors have followed the model he established. But there has been one, very specific deviation. Mondale counseled future VPs not to accept line assignments. But high-profile policy assignments have become standard for all of the vice presidents since Mondale. Vice President Harris taking on the immigration crisis is another instance in a well-trod path.

Do Mondale’s original objections continue to hold true? Does it make sense to give the VP these types of assignments? What types of assignments fit the bill for vice…


I never really thought I wanted to teach. I wanted to do brilliant research, write important things and be famous. As I drift (tumble) into middle-age, I have done some research and written some things. It is safe to say that I have not set the world on fire and am unlikely to do so. I’ve had a few modest brushes with fame, it is fun, but it also isn’t going to happen. (Unless a video of me hurting myself in an embarrassing way goes viral.)

Unrealistic goals, and frankly shallow ones — note I didn’t say anything about the…


Walter “Fritz” Mondale, who died today at 93, changed what it means to be Vice President — that is the story of my dissertation — and I was fortunate to interview Mondale about it. This may be his most notable legacy, but in his long public life, he did a great many good things.

Carter made him a partner and sought his counsel across the board. Carter fully incorporated the VP into the White House process, including access to all White House meetings for the VP and (at lower levels) the VP’s staff. Carter had the CIA’s Presidential Daily Brief…


We have our first article about the Vice Presidency of Kamala Harris. There isn’t much to say… yet.

The article title pretty much says it all.

This is actually all pretty standard. She is doing outreach to groups with which she has affinity, VPs always do that. What is more interesting is when VPs have input. Vice presidential influence flows from this relationship — without VPs can’t do much of anything.

The era of vice-presidential influence has tracked with the election of presidents with limited Washington experience ( this is my whole dissertation). These DC outsider presidents run into policy…


‘The vice presidency is a good gig’: Here’s some advice for Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate

Aaron Mannes, Opinion contributor Published 5:02 a.m. ET Aug. 2, 2020

You didn’t become vice president just for future opportunities. You want to make a difference now. There’s good news and bad news.

Congratulations on being selected as Joe Biden’s running mate. If the polls hold, you’ll be the first female vice president of the United States. (Don’t take too much credit for the win, or blame if you lose. shows that the vice presidential candidate doesn’t make much difference.)

The vice presidency is…


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …


I wrote this a few days ago (on Tisha B’Av), but hope is always welcome, so I’m sharing it here as well.

Today is Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year. It is the day we remember the destruction of the ancient temples. It is a day of mourning, fasting, and contemplation. As it ends however, it turns to a message of hope, that what was lost will be rebuilt and renewed.

As it is nearly over, let me offer a message of hope.

I too am horrified by the seemingly endless cycle of massacres, and sadly, American…


Hey fans (do I have any?), it’s been awhile. I have a day job and I’m trying … trying… to write a book.

For the book I’m thinking about what the politics of reconstruction will look like in an age of Creedal Passion. If none of this makes sense to you, read this. A big part of that is really getting the work of Stephen Skowronek on presidential time.

Have you read the links, great, let’s move on.

Central to Skowronek’s thesis is that presidents have tremendous power (this responding to Richard Neustadt’s great Presidential Power, which argues that presidents…


Today is Presidents Day, the day we honor the people who have held our nation’s highest office. I’m skeptical of this holiday — not all of them were so great. I preferred honoring the greats with a day. We used to celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, and that was enough. We shouldn’t add to the list so lightly. Besides I’m not sure there is another president who can join them. Jefferson was undoubtedly a great man — but also a problematic one. Same with FDR. I’m not sure there is another president who really comes close.

A few…


GoofGirl recently went on a school trip to the zoo. She came home very excited, but also angry that the zoo did not have ocelots. To end her tirade, I told her my own, very special zoo story “Before you were born, mommy and I lived in an apartment not far from the zoo…” “Is this the one about the cheetahs, you always tells us this story?” GoofGirl interrupted. “But mommy is here now and can confirm it, because every word is true!” I continued, “We lived exactly one mile from the zoo. So sometimes in the morning I would…

Aaron Mannes

AAAS Policy Fellow, formerly @UMIACS (specializing in international security), did a PhD on vice presidents, interested in a lot of stuff

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