A prominent law professor has announced that he wants to run for vice president in 2016. A cynic about legal academia might say, “Perfect — being a law prof is great practice for collecting $230,000 to do nothing.”
On a more serious note, though, it makes a certain amount of sense. Our current vice president, Joe Biden, taught law for many years at Widener Law. Our current president, Barack Obama, taught law at the University of Chicago while serving as an Illinois state legislator. And many others, such as both Bill and Hillary Clinton, have gone from teaching the law to executing it.
So speaking of Hillary…. Who is the legal academic who has publicly nominated himself to serve as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick in 2016?
Former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton has not yet announced her 2016 presidential candidacy. But that hasn’t stopped Professor Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine Law from declaring that he’d like to be her VP pick. This isn’t quite as crazy as it might sound, since Professor Kmiec knows and has worked with Clinton. He served as an ambassador while Clinton was Secretary of State, as Professor Josh Blackman reminds us:
In 2008, Pepperdine Law Professor Doug Kmiec, a life-long Republican, former head of OLC under Reagan, and steadfast opponent of abortion, endorsed Barack Obama. He was pilloried by conservatives. I suppose as a reward for his support, the President appointed him as Ambassador to Malta….
Since he has returned, I’ve followed his curious posts on Facebook and Twitter. He consistently refers to himself in the third person as Ambassador, and posts these odd videos and photos of himself in his Ambassadorial role. But a few months ago, it got really weird. He started posting images promoting himself as Vice President in 2016.
Puzzling — I’m not sure what this image has to do with the vice presidency. I certainly don’t think “Joe Biden” when I see a dewy rose. Dick Cheney, maybe, but not Joe Biden.
Professor Blackman continues:
At first I thought it may be some kind of joke, but it wasn’t. Then on October 6, 2013, he announced his “decision to run for vice presidency in 2016,” and noted that he had a “steering committee.”
Here’s the announcement, made over Facebook:
Making it onto a national ticket as a law professor without an established political base seems like a long shot. But Professor Kmiec, admitting that his pursuit of the vice president might be “quixotic,” has a backup plan, as reported by Politico:
A Catholic and writer on Catholicism, Kmiec noted that he is enthused by the model of Pope Francis.
“I suspect that if I emulate with sincerity the holy father’s sense of joy and humility possibilities of helping Mrs. Clinton, my former boss of State Department, will become readily apparent,” Kmiec said. “If not, however there is much to do in particular, I am presently seeking a seat in Congress from the California 26th Congressional District.”
That seat is currently held by freshman Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.).
Going from being a law professor to representing California in the U.S. House of Representatives seems a bit more attainable than the vice presidency. There is precedent for such a move; see, e.g., Thomas Campbell (who went from being a Stanford law professor to being a congressman). And at least Kmiec’s opponent is a freshman, not a longtime incumbent.
Still, since Kmiec’s running as an independent, the odds of his prevailing are long. But there’s a difference between “unlikely” and “impossible,” and politics is full of surprises. Just ask another former law teacher who plunged into politics and found surprising success: Barack Hussein Obama.
Pepperdine Law Prof, and former Ambassador to Malta, Doug Kmiec Seeks To Be Clinton’s VP. Huh? [Josh Blackman's Blog]
Ex-ambassador eyes Hillary Clinton VP spot [Politico]
Douglas Kmiec, former US ambassador to Malta, to seek US vice presidency [Times of Malta]