Bill Clinton for Veep?

From the Washington Post:

A subsequent sampling of opinion from professors of constitutional law, former White House lawyers and even a couple of federal judges reveals a simmering disagreement on whether a president who has already served two terms can be vice president. Some agree with the conclusion that the presidential term limit embedded in the Constitution bars someone such as Clinton from returning to the White House even in the No. 2 slot. Others, though, call that a misreading of the literal language of the law.

As the former president might say, it all depends on the meaning of the word “elected.” Under Article II of the Constitution, a person is “eligible to the Office of President” as long as he or she is a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years old and a resident of the United States for 14 years. The 12th Amendment says “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President.”

Okay, so that means if you’re not eligible to be president, you’re not eligible to be vice president. Makes sense. What would be the point of electing a vice president who can’t succeed the president in case of death, incapacity or vacancy?

But then Congress and the states added the 22nd Amendment in 1951 to prevent anyone from following the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won four terms. That’s where things get dicey. “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,” the 22nd Amendment says.

On its face, that seems to suggest that Clinton could be vice president because he is only barred from being elected president a third time, not from serving as president.

11 Comments

  1. That’s actually interesting. Imagine if he DID become the running mate for whoever gets the nod in ’08…..Clinton is still insanely popular in this country.

  2. Eek! You mean we might have to go through Waco, GATT, NAFTA, botched health plans and Yugoslavia all over again. (I’m not going to even think about the babes.)

    Bleech.

  3. there is greater legal concern that any one person CANNOT serve as president for longer than 10 years (allowing for 2 4-year elected terms, and the 2 years that the constitution allows for a vice president (or any person) to take over the term of another president without reducing the number of terms that the person can run for.

    So, all in all, if Clinton could only serve as president for 10 years, and he has already served as president for 8, then the argument can be made that he cannot run as a vice president because in the event that the president is unable to serve leaving Clinton with more than 2 years left of the presidential term to serve, Clinton would be legally prevented from serving any more than 2 years.

    For as much as I like Clinton, though, I think it is better for the Democrats to stop leaning on him like a crutch. At this point, I would argue that the reason the Dems would win in ’08 would be that Clinton (Bill) is on the ticket- and I don’t think it’s healthy for the party to stop evolving. Clinton (and I think he knows this) would better serve the Democrats as a campaigner.

  4. I am also concerned at the prospect of Hillary running. Much as I admire her and believe she is fully qualified, the voting public is fickle. Eventually we will have a female President but I don’t think the time to risk such an electoral experiment as a female candidate is now. Despite the evils of the GOP, Hillary Clinton in the top slot for the Dems could push just enough people who aren’t ready to accept a female President to vote against her. Please, please democrats. Let’s find the most qualified and electible candidate for 2008. Don’t take the risk of venturing into new ground on a Presidential candidacy that could result in at least another 4 years of GOP tyranny in the White House.

  5. in response to Kelly, I reckon you’re underestimating the sophisitication of the voting population. you’re concerned about people (probably mostly men) who are not ready for a female president, but I would guess that there are a ton of female voters out there, and plenty of male voters too, who are tired of male presidents.

    i see hillary’s gender as beneficial to her campaign, and not as a handicap. i think that enough of the american people are ready (and waiting) for something truly different. part of the reason i didn’t vote last election was that i didn’t believe in either of the candidates. if hillary comes along, it’s another story, and most people i know feel the same way.

    i think things will be pretty loopy in the US for a while, and if a ‘safe’ democrat runs for office every four years, i don’t think the US will make significant progress globally, and that’s assuming that the aforementioned ‘safe’ democrat is even elected. (i’d vote for a hillary clinton with much more enthusiasm than i would vote for a john kerry).

    anyway, i’ve been away from the US for two years now, so i’m not totally in touch with how citizens feel. but in regards to this article, i highly doubt bill clinton will run for VP. i think THAT would be more detrimental to hillary’s campaign than her gender.

  6. Hilary the great progressive?

    Kinda sorta sometimes OK with state torture? Check.

    Former board member of one of the most anti-working people ogopolies in the world? Check.

    “Property of AIPAC” branded on her ass? Check.

    You ask me, something odd has gotten into the progressivism these days.

  7. Michael, I think you over-estimate the sophistication of the voting public. These are the same people who have elected G.W. Bush 1 1/2 times to the Presidency despite the fact that both Albert Gore and John Kerry were infitely more qualified to handle the position and had little if any scandal in their pasts. I think the worst over-estimation comes in the assumption that she would rally female voters. In fact, I suspect that with only a bit more media manipulation, the GOP may be able to mold Ms Clinton’s image into the kind of bugabear that frightens off moderate women of both parties from voting for her because she will be castigated as a radical feminist. No matter the public sentiment, you can bet that the GOP will still have a lot more money to spend on advertising in 2008. Look at how they were able to take bonafied war hero John Kerry’s military record and actually create a public perception that it was fictitious and not on-par with Bush’s stint as a duty shirking National Guard pilot keeping the air over Texas safe from communism. The other factor about her is her relationship to former President Bill Clinton. It has been said that “only Bill Clinton can get away with being Bill Clinton”. If he had been eligible to run for a 3rd term, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he would have handilly trounced G.W. in the election. Instead, Al Gore actually had fallout from Bill’s foibles cloud the public’s perception of his integrity, though there was never a hint of scandal associated with him. Being associated with Bill Clinton only works to your advantage when you actually are Bill Clinton.

  8. I’m always amazed at how holy Bill Clinton is to Democrats, who entirely overlook the fact that he recently agreed with Bush that going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do and he and his staff knew Saddam had WMDs. You guys ought to tell him to shut up. It kinda weakens the current Democrat party mission statement.

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