The best way to ruin your reputation? Get nominated for the vice presidency. Frank Bruni details the VP "hex," which has now fallen on Paul Ryan, in the New York Times: "One minute, you’re a largely respected, minimally dissected public servant sitting on some harmless commission or tending to some humdrum state." The next, you're being lambasted for killing your political rival in a duel, misspelling "potatoe," shooting one of your friends, or exaggerating your proximity to Russia. Or, in Ryan's case, claiming to have run a marathon in under three hours when it actually took you more than four.
"While the veep nod is only occasionally a springboard to the presidency, it’s almost always a trapdoor to mortification," Bruni writes. Joe Biden experienced the same thing: People used to find his "unfiltered utterances … endearing," now they're just seen as ridiculous. Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee, turned from "a senator in good standing" into "an exasperating political vagabond." And John Edwards—well, we don’t even have to spell out what happened to him. As for Ryan, he was practically "a matinee idol" a few weeks ago; he's already become "a veritable poster boy for hyperbole and hypocrisy." Read Bruni's entire column, with many more examples of the VP curse, here. (Read more vice president stories.)