How This Man Could Become President

This year's "designated survivor" is Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, picked to be taken to a safe location during the State of the Union Address.

How This Man Could Become President
U.S. Department of Energy

‚ÄčTake a good look, America, 'cause if the very worst happened — this man could be your next president. (Via U.S. Department of Energy)

That’s because, while President Obama delivers the State of the Union Tuesday night, one of his cabinet members has to sit it out just in case something unthinkable happens at the speech and wipes out every other cabinet official.

Being the only one NOT at the party even has a label: “Designated survivor.” (Via PBS)

This year’s designated survivor is Energy Secretary and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, who was sworn in less than a year ago and is perhaps best known outside Washington for that unbelievable ‘do.

Energy Secretary is normally fifteenth in the line of presidential succession, so think of this as one heck of a morbid way to cut ahead.

Moniz’s predecessor in the Energy Department — Steven Chu — was last year’s designated survivor.

So what does a designated survivor do while holed up? The Washington Post talked to a couple former cabinet officials who served as past designated survivors.

JIM NICHOLSON: “They picked me up near my home by helicopter and took me to an undisclosed location… We had briefings ... and a very nice meal.”

The practice of appointing a designated survivor started during the Cold War and according to Time’s Zeke Miller it tends to be a lower-level member of the Cabinet.