Charlotte Talks Politics: America's 'Accidental Presidents' And Their Impacts, Good And Bad

May 11, 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

The "veepstakes" is underway to pick a running mate for presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden, himself a former No. 2. The vice presidency tends to be overlooked, but it's a consequential position that is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Eight VPs have assumed the office through tragedy, and author Jared Cohen looks at their significance.

This program originally aired April 16, 2019

One of the running gags of the TV show “Veep” was Selina Meyer checking to see if the president had called. He never does.

That reflected the second-tier status we usually assign the vice presidency. Back in the 1960s, satirist Tom Lehrer sang about then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey's seeming irrelavance.

Lyndon Johnson sworn in as president on Nov. 22, 1963 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy
Credit LBJ Library

But there have been tragedies that propelled the No. 2 person into the most powerful office in the free world. Indeed, the president that Humphrey served under, Lyndon Johnson, was one such person.

Author Jared Cohen looks at these eight “Accidental Presidents” and their contributions, or lack thereof.


Jared Cohen, author, "Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America" (@JaredCohen)