Walter Mondale to me is someone who was ahead of his time, the way all Vice Presidents since are judged. Because he was the first Vice President with real authority or at least the first since Richard Nixon. But Vice President Mondale designed how the Vice Presidents Office looks today, serving as the Presidents Chief Counsel on Policy and perhaps even politics as well. As well as basically the Chief Operating Officer of the Administration. Something he, Vice President Bush, Vice President Gore, Vice President Cheney and Vice President Biden all have done well. Pre-Walter Mondale except maybe for Vice President Nixon, the Office of the Vice President was basically ceremonial. Counting the days to when their term was over or when it’s time to campaign again or they would preside over the U.S. Senate. When Congress was in session, it wasn’t a very important office.
Today the Vice Presidency is important. When instead of the Vice President presiding over the Senate, they are basically the President’s Chief Representative to Congress. As well as their other duties at the White House. And Vice President Mondale made that office definite. He worked out an agreement with Jimmy Carter when they ran together in 1976, that if he was to be Carter’s Vice President, that he would have to have real responsibility in that office. The Vice President under the U.S. Constitution, is the first officer in the Federal Government. Only the President out ranks him. And that’s how it was in the Cater Administration, except it was no longer just on paper, but in practice as well.
The Carter-Mondale ticket in 1976, worked very well because they both had what the other didn’t have. Jimmy Carter was the Governor of Georgia and ran a major administration there. But had no Federal Government and foreign policy experience other than his time in the Navy in World War II. Senator Walter Mondale had been in Congress for twelve years, but was never governor and never ran a government. Carter was from the South, Mondale was from the Midwest. Carter was an outsider, but with strong civil rights credentials and Mondale had strong ties to the Democratic establishment. With organized labor and the civil rights movement. They are both very intelligent and very good men.
Carter-Mondale, complemented each other very well, similar to Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1992. The Democratic Party was somewhat concern about Jimmy Carter’s progressive credentials, but with Fritz Mondale on the ticket, they were able to get past that. Because Senator Mondale had a long progressive record. We’ll see what Vice President Biden’s record looks like when he leaves that office. (Hopefully in five years) But as far as I’m concern Al Gore and Fritz Mondale are the two best Vice President’s we’ve ever had and I would lead towards Vice President Gore. Because he helped run one of the most successful administration’s we’ve ever had.
Fritz Mondale to me represents exactly what a public servant should be. He was a politician in the best sense of the word, because he separated politics from public office. Politics was for campaigning and public office was about governing. And had he not run for President in 1984 against Ronald Reagan, when the economy was doing well and just four years after the Carter Administration, which was very unpopular, maybe Vice President Mondale becomes President Mondale. But Fritz Mondale was a victim of his times, but becoming President was also not what public service was about for him either. But serving the public was.