Tonight, Paul Ryan probably doesn't think of the vice presidency as a trivial pursuit
There's a lot of buzz on Twitter this evening about Paul Ryan, who's just been officially nominated as the Republic vice presidential candidate.
It got me wondering if Ryan will one day become a footnote in history by being the second banana on the losing ticket. The two most recent losers, Sarah Palin and John Edwards, are more memorable for their public flameouts than anything they ever achieved as politicians.
It's worth noting that a few incumbent presidents have lost their bids for reelection.
The 19th-century century list of losers featured John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison. (Cleveland lost to Harrison and Harrison lost to Cleveland in the next election.)
Five others over a 40-year period in the 19th century were not renominated by their parties: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson.
In the 20th century, presidents who lost reelection campaigns included William Taft, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. Only one of them, Carter, was a Democrat.
It's been 20 years since an incumbent U.S. president has lost an election.
History appears to be on Barack Obama's side.
If I'm correct, it's easy to imagine the Trivial Pursuit question we might hear in the future to test a person's knowledge of campaigns: which vice-presidential candidate was inspired to venture into politics by the books of Ayn Rand?
My guess is that within five or six years, only the most genuine political nerds will get it right.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.