General Question

robmandu's avatar

Who has been the most dangerous vice president in U.S. history?

Asked by robmandu (21285points) October 13th, 2008

More than just a name, I’m hoping to read some interesting stories. And learn a little history at the same time.

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27 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

The most dangerous one is currently a candidate, and will be elected next month, IMHO.

wundayatta's avatar

@JA: why do you think Biden is dangerous?

SuperMouse's avatar

This question is easy skmeezy lemon squeezie; this guy.

autumn43's avatar

We don’t see him much, but his name is Dick. Dick Cheney. He shot his friend while hunting. If he’s that good to his friends, can you imagine what he does to his enemies?

robmandu's avatar

BTW, feel free to be liberal in your definition of dangerous. By which I mean, if some historical veep was a badass in a bar fight, that’d be interesting, too.

jvgr's avatar

I’d have to go with Cheney.
He has created a position with unprecedented power and secrecy.

fireside's avatar

I’d have to say Cheney also.

Aaron Burr is a close second, but I think Cheney was more responsible for provoking war and had a direct hand in the downturn of the world’s perception of America.

Plus he has worse aim, that alone makes a man with a shotgun dangerous.

autumn43's avatar

Dick is a badass skeet shooter!

robmandu's avatar

Aaron Burr:

> dueled with and killed Alexander Hamilton.

Then later, after moving west, he was accused of:
> treason
> conspiracy to steal the lands of the Louisiana Purchase and crown himself King
> attempting to declare an illegal war against Mexico.

And all formal trials were either dismissed or he was acquitted.

dalepetrie's avatar

I try to stay away from characterizing anyone as “the most” anything in American history, because there are 232 years of American history…I’ve only been alive for 37 of them, and have only been able to vote in the last 5 Presidential elections (including the one we’re having in 3 weeks).

But here’s one thing I’ll point out. I haven’t read this book (yet), but in a recently published book called “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency”, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and staff writer for the Washington Post (not exactly a liberal rag) Barton Gellman, documents Cheney’s efforts to expand the influence of the Vice Presidency. I have seen him speak of this book and recall a couple anecdotes from it.

#1 – Before Bush/Cheney were innaugurated, Cheney met with former VP Dan Quayle at some ceremonial function with little real meaning. Quayle essentially told Cheney to get used to being little more than a useless goodwill embassador for meaningless events, and Cheney’s response was that he had other plans. Cheney went on to take an historically large role in governance and was far from the typical Vice President in regards to decisionmaking. He was indeed part of Bush’s inner circle, and according to this and countless other sources, Cheney’s influence was felt in almost every decision Bush ever made.

#2 – In the runup to the Iraq War, Cheney had a meeting with Dick Armey, then the House Majority leader Dick Armey, wherein Cheney actually told him (though he knew it to be untrue) that not only did Saddam Hussein already HAVE a nuclear bomb, he was close to being able to miniaturize it and bring a suitcase nuke to our shores. He also told Armey of direct ties between Saddam’s family and Al Quaeda (ties that did not exist). Armey made it a priority to get the House to authorize Bush to declare war, a decision he since came to regret.

In my opinion, any Vice President who a) expands his powers far beyond what they had ever been before and beyond what they were ever meant to have been, and who b) then uses those powers to sway decisionmaking, even though he has to lie in order to do it…that is the most dangerous VP I personally can think of.

But there may have been a more dangerous VP, I’m not a Presidential Historian by any means.

JackAdams's avatar

I wonder why no one has seriously mentioned the name Lyndon Baines Johnson?

The world is filled with conspiracy theorists who claim that he was involved, at least peripherally, in the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and, if so, that would certainly put him at the top of any “list” being compiled in this thread.

shilolo's avatar

I would have to say Al Gore. I mean, he’s been pushing this global warming nonsense (which everyone in Alaska knows to be false) and, even worse, he invented the internet, and look how much time we all waste on this useless invention (present site excluded, of course)...

tongue now removed from firmly from cheek

skfinkel's avatar

Cheney. By working to dismantle the US Government and at the same time use his power (in lieu of a functioning president) to destroy the US role and prestige abroad. It’s shocking how much destruction could occur so quickly. And it serves as a warning.

susanc's avatar

Read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” to see how Cheney has almost killed us. Not alone, by any means. But strongly and purposefully.

srmorgan's avatar

Spiro T. Agnew, anyone??
The only Veep to plead guilty while still in office..

I nominate Spiro!!


JackAdams's avatar

He pleaded “No Contest,” instead of “Not Guilty.”

I quote:

On October 10, 1973, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President.

galileogirl's avatar

The only reason Cheney is dangerous is because of the abdication of leadership by Bush. The story may just be apocryphal but I read that Cheney was the head of the VP search committee. He looked at hundreds of possible candidates before deciding HE was the best choice. I guess Dubya was to busy to say “HUH?”

I think Nixon was pretty dangerous in the ‘50s when Eisenhower was so ill. Unfortunately when he became president we saw how dangerous when he was when tried to rewrite the Constitution.

Agnew was pretty bad too, He actually could have replaced Nixon if he wasn’t such an obvious thug,

I have to throw my vote to Aaron Burr. He was a thug like Agnew, had the delusions of Nixon, would have thrown this country into a war like Cheney, but the cherry on the sundae- he was a killer.

srmorgan's avatar

I have mentioned this at least once before on Fluther but it is right on point with your comment.

In the mid-60’s Merle Miller recorded a series of interviews with Harry Truman with the idea that a television series could be put together from the interviews. It never went anywhere on the air.

Miller published these interviews in a book called Plain Speaking around 1973 or so, just after Truman’s death in 1972.

They were discussing the beauty of the Constitution and Miller asked Truman if he thought that Nixon ever read the Constitution. Truman replied “he might have read it but he didn’t understand it.””

Catchy, no?


galileogirl's avatar

Actually I read Plain Speaking but that was 30 years ago so I don’t remember that particular quote. Truman was one of history’s best VPs

JackAdams's avatar

He was also a best President.

bea2345's avatar

I don’t know about the most dangerous, but my favourite VP has been Spiro T. Agnew, mainly because the cartoonists did such a job on him.

SuperMouse's avatar

@bea2345 and honestly, he had the best name.

bea2345's avatar

@SuperMouse – heavens, yes.

Darbio16's avatar

George H. W. Bush

patg7590's avatar

+1 for evil incarnate (Dick Cheney)

derekfnord's avatar

@shilolo Yep, that’s what I was going to answer as well. If you’re a believer in the flavors of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory that paint it as a coup d’etat, with LBJ as the beneficiary, then obviously he’d have to be considered a strong candidate for “Most Dangerous Veep.” (Not saying you should believe any of those coup-based theories, mind you. Just, if you do, then… LBJ.)

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