Surely one of the pleasures of having a magazine with a 150-year archive is the ability to pull stories from the past and make them a part of the news cycle. On the day of vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, The Atlantic has done just that, presenting “Is the Vice Presidency Necessary?” by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. from May 1974.
Writing a generation before Dick Cheney added unprecedented power to the traditional role of vice president, the late Mr. Schlesinger, a Pulitzer prize winning historian and J.F.K. special assistant, wrote:
Later in the essay, Mr. Schlesinger writes, “A Vice President will learn only as much as a President is willing to have him learn—which, given presidential dislike of Vice Presidents, is not ordinarily very much.”
We assume that had Mr. Schlesinger written this article today, he’d be obliged to change it to “him or her.”