On Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney denied that he had dangerously expanded the powers of the executive branch while also criticizing Vice President Elect Joe Biden for wanting to diminish the office of the vice president.
Host Chris Wallace asked Cheney about Biden’s ideas that the vice president had too much power, and his desire to shrink the role of the vice presidency. Cheney said, “Well, I just fundamentally disagree with him. He also said that the — all the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch are laid out in Article 1 of the Constitution. Well, they’re not. Article 1 of the Constitution is the one on the legislative branch.”
“Joe’s been chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, for 36 years, teaches constitutional law back in Delaware, and can’t keep straight which article of the Constitution provides for the legislature and which provides for the executive. So I think — I write that off as campaign rhetoric. I don’t take it seriously. And if he wants to diminish the office of vice president, that’s obviously his call,” Cheney said.
The Vice President continued, “I think that President-elect Obama will decide what he wants in a vice president. And apparently, from the way they’re talking about it, he does not expect him to have as consequential a role as I’ve had during my time.”
What a classless answer by Cheney. He could have taken the high road and disagreed with Biden on the limits of vice presidential power, but he could not resist taking the cheap shot, and mocking the incoming vice president.
The biggest dig at Biden wasn’t making fun of misstatement on the Constitution during the VP debate. The real shot was the notion that Biden wants to diminish the office of the vice presidency. Here is what Biden said he thought the vice president’s role should be during the debate, “And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.”
Here is what Biden said to raise Cheney’s ire, “The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.”
What Biden wants to do is return the vice presidency to its traditional role. Biden doesn’t believe in the unlimited authority of the executive branch. What Cheney called a consequential role, others have defined as unconstitutional. I think that most Americans are looking forward to the end of the reign of secrecy that has defined the Bush/Cheney years. No more secret policies, no more secret spying on American citizens, and no more secret prisons and torture. In one month it all ends, and a new era begins.