I’m reading Jeffrey Archer’s “The Prodigal Daughter” at a snail pace and came across the following sentence describing the scene where Florentyna Kate, the female candidate for Presidency answers the journalist’s question at a press interview:

“Senator Kane, is this really a bid to be Pete Perkin’s running mate?”

“No, I am not interested in the office of Vice President. At best it’s a period of stagnation while you wait around in the hope of doing the real job. At worst I am reminded of Nelson Rockefeller’s word: “Don’t take the number two spot unless you’re up for a four–year advanced seminar in political science and a lot of state funerals.” I’m not in the mood for either.” - Page 418.

I can’t well relate the carrier of 4-year advanced seminar in political science and attendance at numeral state funerals to No. 2 position in the White House.

Is Florentyna saying the experience represented by academic expertise in political science and attendance to a lot of state funerals are only good for attaining the position up to Vice President, but not worthy for the qualifications of President of U.S.A (which is what she aims to be)?

Is she saying it’s not about experience, but ability when questioning caliber of President?

Could you help me parse what Flonrentyna says by quoting Nelson Rockefeller’s word?

  • To whom down voted this question. I would like to know why I got a down vote, when those who answered including highly respected SorneyB got 9 and 4 up-votes respectively for their sincere and elaborate answers. Please give me specific and convincing reasons why you down-voted this question in the comment. Aug 4, 2014 at 7:25
  • 3
    She's saying, being Vice President is like a four-your advanced seminar in political science and attending many state funerals. She doesn't want to do either.
    – Jodrell
    Aug 4, 2014 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


Up for here means eager to pursue. Rockefeller thus says that the vice-presidency is suitable only for someone who can get excited about engaging in merely academic contemplation of politics and attending purely ceremonial functions. After he was appointed VP, he described his duties as "I go to funerals. I go to earthquakes."

This is a very common sentiment about the office of Vice-President, who is rarely a figure of any importance in the government. Some representative quotations from politicians:

"The vice president has two duties. One is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and the other is to attend the funerals of Third World dictators." —John McCain, running for President in 2000

"I would a great deal rather be anything, say professor of history, than vice president." —Theodore Roosevelt, before running for VP on McKinley's ticket, and eventually becoming President on McKinley's death

"I do not propose to be buried until I am dead." —Sen. Daniel Webster, upon being offered the vice presidency in 1839

"the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived" —John Adams, second President of the USA, who helped draft the Constitution which defines the office. He was succeeded as President by his own VP and greatest political rival, Thomas Jefferson

  • 3
    The significant point here is the the Vice President serves no function unless the President needs to be replaced. Which is fair enough, if you think about it: If the Vice President did something important, you'd also need a vice vice president on standby, just in case the vice president has to take over the president's job.
    – user867
    Aug 4, 2014 at 7:40
  • 1
    The Nelson Rockefeller’s caracterization of VP roles doesn't seem to be applicable to Dick Cheney's case wherein he cajoled or coerced wavering G.W.Bush to go into the war with Iraq in spite of absence of proof of their possession of MDW.. Aug 4, 2014 at 7:50
  • 3
    @YoichiOishi Quite true; and Cheney was generally regarded as the most powerful VP in US history. Aug 4, 2014 at 10:18

No, he's highlighting that the Vice President has a largely symbolic role.

As Vice President you will get to learn about politics by being close to the action but not actually do any politics, so it's like an "advanced seminar in political science". And you'll attend all the "lesser" state funerals that the President can't/won't attend.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.