Friday, October 03, 2008

Vice Presidential Stupidity

I have to say that VP debates are always boring and seldom important. Who really cares who wins? Yet, this one was the most disturbing of all because they actually debated the VP’s role, and I was horrified to find out that no one reads the Constitution. No pundit, no candidate, and apparently no Senators.

I could be mistaken because I did not read a transcript, but I did ask the three other people in the room of Biden really said that “Article 1 of the Constitution shows the Vice President to be a member of the Executive.” No commentator challenged that statement (at least that I heard). If you want to debate that the VP is part of the executive, fine, you would be wrong, but you can at least do it. What worried me the most is that Article 1 of the Constitution is about the Legislative Branch, not the Executive Branch. That is Article 2. I am not a lawyer, but I caught that mistake. Apparently no one in the media cares that Joe Biden does not know Constitution 101. No wonder Washington D.C. is a mess.

What was almost as bad an not knowing the Constitution is the assertion that all the VP can do is cast a vote in case of the tie. This is also not true. The Vice President is the President of the Senate (see Article 1 of the Constitution). Cheney has done some stupid stuff. But, bad advice to the President should still fall on the President’s lap since he made those decisions. That is hardly something inherently wrong about the VP slot. Biden is of course wrong again when he states the only power is the tie breaker vote. That is his only voting power, but the President of the Senate can preside over the Senate at any time. John C. Calhoun presided over the Senate a lot while VP. He clearly viewed the VP slot seriously and he stood at his post in the Senate often. As the President of the Senate he has the power to gavel down (or not gavel down) things in speeches as inappropriate. He used that power liberally to attack and tear down the Jackson administration. Cheney has never done anything like that. Both candidates showed a thoughtless view of the VP slot. It was very disappointing. The Constitution is clear the President is the Chief Executive and the Vice President is the Chief of the Legislative branch (and the Chief Justice being the Chief of the Judicial). A little knowledge and taking of the VP slot seriously would go a long way with me. To bad no one does anymore.


Anonymous said...

Article 1: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided."
Joe Biden stated that the Vice President does not have power over any decisions of the Senate unless the vote is divided (50/50) and that was the only authority that the Vice President had over the Sentate. So, I think he did okay on that one.

Andrew McIntyre said...


History and the actual wording you quoted does not support Biden. The VP is president of the Senate (which means he presides), but, when it comes to voting, he is only a tie breaker. His function is not just to be a tie breaker. His function is to preside and vote in the case of a tie. You may remember that Adams, the first VP, was well known for even chiding and rebuking the Senate over which he personally presided. Palin was merely saying that the VP has an active role in the legislature. I cannot see how this is controversial.

I think Biden did better when he talked about hanging out at the local Home Depot. From what I am told, it is completely untrue, but it was certainly his most interesting comment.



Lee said...

Andy I believe is right. Limiting the authority of the VP to a vote is wrong. He presides over the Senate. John C. Calhoun famously sat in the chair almost everyday so that all rulings from the chair would come from him. He let supporters attack the administration in violent language and let them go over time limits while calling down his opponents for any break in rules and held them strictly to the clock. The point is not what a partisan person Calhoun was, but rather that people accepted the Constitutional right for the VP to rule from the chair. That is his true constitutional duty.

It should also be noted that the VP was not constitutionally allowed to finish out a dead President's term until the 25th Amendment. There were those who thought the VP only a placeholder until a new election could be held originally.

Such things point to a VP who is primarily part of the Legislative Branch not the Executive.