"Warm Spit"

“Warm Spit"

By Robert B. Martin Jr.

When it comes to commentary about the office of vice president of the United States, no statement is more repeated than John Nance Garner’s observation that “the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit.” Garner’s statement is part of the lexicon of studies on the office of vice president. 

Although well-remembered for this one-liner, the truth is that John Nance Garner, one of the most famous political figures in twentieth century American history, served well as the nation’s thirty-second vice president for two terms. As Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president, he transformed the position from a nonentity and political dustbin into a pinnacle of power in the legislative and executive branches.” Then in 1940 Garner challenged Roosevelt for the Presidency and lost. Believing that being vice president had been a handicap to becoming President, he was also quoted as saying: “the worst damn-fool mistake I ever made was letting myself be elected vice president of the United States.”

I am a candidate for Vice President of the American Rose Society. Unlike the warm spit John Nance Garner described, this is an important position in the American Rose Society. The Vice President of the American Rose Society is called to serve a term of three years as Vice President. Afterwards, the Vice President automatically becomes President of the American Rose Society to serve a term of an additional term of three years. Therefore, in considering whether to vote for me, I think it useful for me to explain my understanding of the office I seek.

To begin, it is important to understand what the office is not. The Vice President and President of the American Rose Society are not the managers of the Society. The American Rose Society does not need another manager. Instead, it already has an excellent Executive Director, Jeff Ware, a professional whose job as specified in the bylaws is to “manage the Society headquarters and staff.” I was on the Board when we interviewed and hired Jeff. I have full confidence in Jeff Ware and do not propose to replace him or tell him how to do his job.

The ARS also has a 31-member Board of Directors that includes the Vice President and President. The job of the Board of Directors is to direct, i.e. to provide direction to the Executive Director and to exercise the ultimate authority to supervise, control and direct the affairs of the Society. It also has a five-member Executive Committee that includes the Vice President and President, which exercises this authority when the Board is not in session. I have in fact served on this Committee.

The job of the President of the America Rose Society, as specified in the bylaws, is to preside at all meetings of the Society and, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, to appoint such committees as may be required. The job of the Vice-President, according to the bylaws, is to perform the duties of the President in her absence.

I believe the role of the Vice-President should be something more than just sitting around being ready to perform the duties of the President in her absence. Instead, part of that role should be to sustain the President in carrying out her duties. 

For the years 2015-2018, the primary responsibility for the leadership of the American Rose Society will lie with its duly elected President, Pat Shanley. I know Pat and respect her commitment to the American Rose Society. We do appear to have different emphasis in the things about roses that concern us, but I think that is healthy and not at all unusual as we all come to the love of roses through our different perspectives and experience. The important thing is that we work together for our common goal, which is the welfare of the American Rose Society. As Vice President I plan to give Pat my sustaining support in this common endeavor.

At the same time, I am also thinking that as Vice President, I should be the “CEO” of the American Rose Society – not the Chief Executive Officer as the acronym usually denotes – but the “Chief Educational Officer.” 

The mission of the American Rose Society is “to promote the culture and appreciation of the rose, through education and research, to members, to local rose societies and their members, and to the public.” As Vice President, I plan to focus my attention on that mission.

I know roses. And, my history as an educator about roses is extensive and has few parallels in the history of the American Rose Society. I believe this makes me uniquely qualified to be as Vice President, the Chief Educational Officer, this in order to provide leadership in carrying out the educational mission of the American Rose Society. To me, this is worth a lot more than a bucket of warm spit.