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Monday, July 13, 2009

The VP

From a blog site I have not seen before, Below the Beltway comes this comment on the role of Vice President Dick Chaney in the newest CIA flap.  The blogger, Doug Mataconis, writes:
I’ve written before — here and here — about Cheney’s assumption of Vice-Presidential powers that were not only unprecedented but which, according to Law Professor Glenn Reynolds a/k/a Instapundit, may very well be unconstitutional. So, in some respect, the news that Cheney was giving direct orders to the CIA to withhold information from the people’s representatives in direct violation of the law isn’t all that surprising. The fact that it’s not surprising, though, shouldn’t making any less shocking.

The original has several embedded links
I am with those who believe the Vice President's place is in the Senate, unless and until the President is incapacitated.  The ability of the Vice President to smoothly assume the office of President is facilitated both by his being in the loop (see Vice President Harry Truman and nuclear weapons) and by his distance from the President (compare the transition of Vice President Gerald Ford compared with what it might have been with someone who was as deeply involved in the "plumbers" as was President Nixon).

One of the things I would do if I could, would be to change the process by which Vice Presidential candidates run for office.  That is to say, I would separate the President and the Vice President on the ballot.  That would increase the workload on the voter—having to make an additional mark, but I think it would be worth it.  And, I think it would be consistent with the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution. Being elected in his or her own right would give the Vice President a certain Independence, which might help identify the fact that he or she is not the "Assistant President," but rather is part of the operation of the US Senate and available to fill in for ceremonial purposes from time to time and as President when the President is incapacitated (see the Twenty-Fifth Amendment).

I would hope that such a move would also return us to the time when the Vice President was nominated by the Party Convention and not just handed to the Convention by the Presidential Nominee.  I am saying, I would like to see a second horse race.  An open convention.  In 2008 we might have seen the Democratic Convention nominate Senator Clinton for VP, rather that Senator Biden.  The only down side to that would be if President Obama had then nominated Senator Biden to be Secretary of State

It is to be acknowledges that candidates in the past have had great power over who was nominated, although they sometimes exercised it in an indirection way, as with President Franklin Roosevelt's famous comment, "Clear it with Sidney." The Sidney in this case was labor leader Sidney Hillman, who was opposed to the nomination of James F. Byrnes, of South Carolina, to replace Henry Wallace on the ticket for the fourth election.

The result of this change might be that the American People, in their wisdom, might elect a President from one party and a VP from another.  So be it.  It is the right of the People to pick their leaders.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Hat tip to the Instapundit.
  Does anyone even use "flap" these days?


Craig H said...

I'm with folks who believe Cheney's actions to be unconstitutional and quite possibly criminal. Given proper investigation and prosecution of any crimes committed during Cheney's terms, I'd be a bit less concerned about future ticket selection processes. (If the Veep isn't empowered to misbehave, it's less important how they get selected. However, I would completely agree that Cheney's actions scream out for better oversight--if not from the judiciary branch, then from the electorate. Scary, scary things we're learning these days, and profoundly in conflict with our Constitution and our best beliefs.

Anonymous said...

I'll confess to having not read Glen Reynold's article, but based on my limited knowledge of the Constitution, I'm not sure where people find a prohibition the president delegating some of his authority. Sure, people may claim that the Veep is part of the legislative branch, and thus it is a violation of separation of powers, but I'm not sure that argument convinces me. I'd be more persuaded if Congress attempted to arrogate that power for the President of the Senate than the Prez offering it in his discretion.

the other cliff

C R Krieger said...

Dear "Other Cliff"

I think the President is free to delegate what he wants to whom he wants.  He could even delegate some authority my way.  I am saying that as a matter of policy, it is better if the President doesn't involve the Veep in the day-to-day running of the Administration.  Further, I am saying that I think the nation would benefit if (A) the Party Conventions did more than rubber stamp the desires of the Presidential Nominee as to the Veep and (B) the People should be allowed to vote for the Veep separately from the President (maybe we would have had Obama and Palin in office, or even better, Bush and Lieberman).

Regards  —  Cliff (The Real One)

PS:  And, you never noted how I am using those HTML codes to produce M-Dashes and extra spaces.