Josh Marshall of TPM wrote today that the Joe Biden model of the Vice Presidency could be closer to the Dick Cheney model than we might hope. It's an interesting argument based largely on the fact that Joe Biden is old enough that he would likely not run for President in 2016 (he would be 74) and therefore does not have to weigh the politics of extensive VP involvement, just as Cheney did not.
Vice President Cheney's clout within the Bush administration is heavily tied to the fact that the he early -- and quite credibly because of his medical history -- disavowed any plans to seek the presidency in his own right. We're in the midst of a four decade trend toward more and more powerful and influential vice-presidents (in the sense of clout not constitutional prerogative). But the big brake on the veep's role in decision-making has always been the fact that everyone else who wants to be president someday has a strong interest in keeping his power in check.
But I think that Biden will only have as much power as President-elect Obama allows. The Obama machine has been incredibly well oiled since it began more than two years ago and I don't think this will change after Obama is inaugurated. From what I can tell, Cheney was so involved in the Bush presidency because Bush wanted and needed that. He simply did not have the knowledge and political ability to do it by himself.
But despite his inexperience, Obama is a competent leader and skilled politician. I don't see Biden making a play for extensive powers without Obama squashing it. But if Obama wants an involved VP, then it will happen.
There are a few areas in which Obama could use the Vice President's help. First, there is foreign policy, Biden's strong suit. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the choice of Biden as VP was a clear sign that Obama would look to his running mate for support on issues of national security and international diplomacy. But some early Obama cabinet picks shows that he would also look elsewhere for help. This was especially apparent in his choice for Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, another high profile foreign relations authority.
It's still early to predict what Biden's role will be in the White House. But I predict that Obama will set the tone for that role and Biden, whether he wants to or not, will have to obey.
It will be good to get back to a Vice President who is not in charge of running the government, especially the "secret" government. It will be good to have a Vice President who is not always located in an "Undisclosed Location." And it will certainy be good to have a Vice President who knows he is part of the Executive Branch and that's it.
To take the words directly from Joe Biden:
"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. 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."
And, frankly, I'll be glad to see Cheney sink back to his undisclosed location and never come out again.
I would not want to be the paper shredder in Dick Cheney's office.
That poor device is going to be running 24/7 from now until January 20, 2009. It probably started when CNN declared Obama the winner and has been going non-stop since. That crooked and devious thief is going leave behind a remarkably thin paper trail. When he's done 'clearing out', his office will look like Christmas morning in Who-ville after the Grinch cleaned them out. Just some hooks on the wall, a few wires and little piles of dust here and there.
by celticdiva, Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 12:00:14 AM EDT
From Keith Olbermann's "Countdown:"
This is Sarah Palin's first policy speech and (big surprise) she blows it. During the speech, she discusses how the McCain "budget freeze" shouldn't be a concern for kids with disabilities or their families...the McCain-Palin ticket will redirect money for "special needs issues" from "special projects" that "don't do the public any good." Her example is "fruit fly research in Paris, France" and she mentions it while looking at the crowd as if she's aghast that such a thing could exist.
The research is being done at the University of North Carolina, which is nowhere near France. They've discovered through this research that "a certain protein is required for nerve cells to form and function properly." This could provide significant advances in the understanding of autism.