Dwight D. Eisenhower-Richard Nixon

Age Differences Between Presidents and Vice Presidents, And Differences In Performance And Quality Of Democratic And Republican Vice Presidents

Starting after World War II and to the present, we have often had Presidents and Vice Presidents of widely varying age differences, both with the President much older and those times with the Vice President much older.

Witness the following:

Harry Truman 1884, Alben Barkley 1877–7 years

Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890, Richard Nixon 1913—23 years

John F. Kennedy 1917, Lyndon B. Johnson 1908–9 years

Lyndon B. Johnson 1908, Hubert Humphrey 1911–3 years

Richard Nixon 1913, Spiro Agnew 1918–five years

Richard Nixon 1913, Gerald Ford 1913–same year

Gerald Ford 1913, Nelson Rockefeller 1908–five years

Jimmy Carter 1924, Walter Mondale 1928–four years

Ronald Reagan 1911, George H. W. Bush 1924–13 years

George H. W. Bush 1924, Dan Quayle 1947–23 years

Bill Clinton 1946, Al Gore 1948–two years

George W. Bush 1946, Dick Cheney 1941–five years

Barack Obama 1961, Joe Biden 1942–19 years

Donald Trump 1946, Mike Pence 1959–13 years

Five Vice Presidents were older—Barkley, Johnson, Rockefeller, Cheney, and Biden, with Biden a lot older.

Eight Presidents were older—Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Trump–with Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush, and Trump a lot older.

Nixon and Ford were born the same year, with Nixon six months older.

For the five cases where the age difference was dramatic, one could argue that Obama benefited from the wisdom and calm of Joe Biden.

It also could be said that Reagan benefited from Bush’s foreign policy experience, and that Eisenhower set a good standard for Nixon, who took on great responsibilities, making him totally prepared to be President, in regards to experience and knowledge.

In the case of Bush and Quayle, it was a total disaster as far as Quayle was concerned, and it seems to many, without being certain, that the same applies to Trump and Pence, with the difference that Bush was totally competent and stable, while Trump is most certainly not that way, and Pence is too weak kneed to assert himself, undermining our government and its policies.

Looking at the Presidential-Vice Presidential teams, it is clear that the combinations of Democrats worked out far better, particularly with Carter-Mondale, Clinton-Gore until the last years marred by the impeachment crisis caused by Bill Clinton’s irresponsible behavior, and Obama-Biden.

Even the Truman-Barkley, Kennedy-Johnson, Johnson-Humphrey combinations, while not treating the Vice Presidents as well as later teams, were better due to the fact that the Vice Presidents in all these cases were exceptional Senators in their service in that body.

The Republican combinations were nowhere near as good, as:

Eisenhower took on a Vice President he did not really like very much, and was much younger than him;

Nixon took on Agnew who was a horrible choice making us worry about Nixon’s health;

Ford was alright as a temporary and necessary replacement under Nixon, far better than Agnew, and saving us from him due to the 25th Amendment;

Ford smart in choosing Rockefeller but then forced by the right wing of his party to drop him in 1976;

Reagan and Bush, not liking each other in particular, but working well to Reagan’s benefit;

Quayle a total disaster under Bush, making us worry about Bush’s health, similar to the Agnew case in many ways;

Cheney perfectly competent but an evil force under the second Bush;

and Pence making a very poor impression, as one unwilling to stand up to the unstable Trump, and therefore undermining our stability and national security.

The Republican Vice Presidents were in order—

a freshman Senator (Nixon);

a short term Governor (Agnew);

a long term House member and Minority Leader (Ford);

a long term Governor and multiple times Presidential contender (Rockefeller);

a short term House member but in a number of foreign policy related jobs (Bush I);

a mediocre Senator (Quayle);

a House leader and cabinet officer (Cheney);

and House leader and state governor (Pence).