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Saturday, October 4. 2008
In my post-debate wrap-up yesterday, I mentioned a threat that had been flung across the aisle at one point, caught in full by few except Biden, himself. He understood the threat perfectly and it evoked one of his wildest, most unhinged responses of the evening. Most people probably assumed he was just taking the opportunity to lash out at Cheney for whatever reason, but he and Palin were sharing a very different message.
We'll review the transcript first, then we'll go to the video and you can watch how easily this shotgun-barreled threat flows from her lips, and how easily the import of what she's really saying would be lost on anyone except those tuned into the buzzwordspeak of politics, and why it evoked Biden's somewhat deranged response.
Clever post title, eh?
Yoicks! In Washingtonese, that's a real slap in the face because everyone (who's anyone) knows that the 'preside' part is merely figurative, yet she gives the impression to the nation that 'preside' means just what it says; the person wielding the gavel. If you asked people right after the debate was over:
Probably half of them would answer 'yes'. She's got 'em primed.
The next volley:
Biden must have almost wet his pants. There are some rules the Old Guard plays by, and "The VP keeps his hands off the Senate" is one of them. If Palin takes office, we might see more than just a glass ceiling being shattered.
A few minutes later we get to the heart of the matter:
Washingtonese Lesson #2: When the opposition refers to the Founding Fathers, do something! Anything! Quickly! Change the subject! Ponder aloud whether it's worth four hundred and eighty godzillion dollars to bring back more valuable moon rocks so we can penetrate the mysteries of the universe. Turn to the moderator and say, "But what about global warming, Jim?" Anything!
And that brings us to the crux of the issue:
Using the words "Constitution" and flexibility in the same sentence? Biden's internal warning bells must have been clanging like crazy.
Now pay particular attention to the use of the word "we" in the following, and what outside entity she then refers to, and the import of that initial exclusion:
Note how she's distancing her office from McCain's. In the above, for perhaps the first time in the campaign, he's not part of "we." She'll be happy to work with him on this or that 'agenda', but otherwise — look out. She's a busy gal with things to do, and she'll be delighted to use these new-found (not to mention flexible) vice-presidential powers to do them with.
What she's ultimately saying to Biden is that he'd better watch his step or Mama Palin just might start exercising some of these Constitutionally-flexible powers in that precious Senate of his. The message was clear:
You think Chaney was bad, Joe? Watch this.
While this stuff just rolls off their tongues like it's the most natural thing in the world when they speak it out loud, look how extreme it appears in print:
I can only think that his political survival instincts kicked in at the last second so he could slip that awkward "probably" in there, but when you call someone who could very well be sitting right there in the same room "the most dangerous" anything, that's known as coming unglued. And to say such a rude and disparaging thing about a sitting vice president of this great country of ours, regardless of political persuasion?
Say it ain't so, Joe.
If you were the vice president of the United States and you heard that some two-bit senator had called you one of the most dangerous vice presidents in history and you decided that you might as well prove him right, how would you go about it?
Well, one can always dream.
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Hmmm. The only mention in the Constitution of the powers of the vice presidency are regarding being President of the Senate. There appears to be considerable leeway in function beyond that: he could probably be given control over any of the cabinet offices; as second in authority he has authority over the cabinet limited by the agenda, assertion, and powers of the President; the latter could very well delegate him powers; being President of the Senate is to be greater in authority than the Majority Leader -- who does not exist in the Constitution: the Founders did not foresee a two party system but a system of multiple factions; one could possibly say that many of the powers given to the Majority Leader are properly those of the President of the Senate.
Yet, what is more interesting is that the Democrats and any who believe in the Constitution as a "Living Document" have no choice but to allow an evolution by custom and common law of the powers of the Vice President.
I agree that to be President of the Senate is to be greater in authority than the majority leader. It's just that the neither the view nor the role has been played.
Can you imagine Palin wrangling with Reid over the agenda of the Senate? It would be amazing to see what could happen if a little sunlight was placed on the inner workings of the illustrious body.
I wonder what Constitutional scholars would say.
I think one the factors that has caused Biden and his liberal congressional buddies so much anger at Bush is they have been trying for many years to expand the legislative branch into the executive sphere and Bush/Cheney have blunted this encroachment and actually pushed it back some. Gov Palin seems to be signaling that McCain's administration will continue the executive's fight to take back it's proper role and scope...sorry Joe. Now what to do with the press' interference with the proper and healthy functioning of the executive branch...
Heh - sounds like Palin really got inside of Biden's hair-plug-filled head. Go Sarah!
Joe was probably just referring to Cheney's abilities with a shotgun. Heh.
Nothing wrong with Cheney's abilities with a shotgun. Something very wrong with his shooting companion's understanding of bird hunting. You don't move or stand up while your companion is shooting. Wait 'til he takes his shot before you move. That's just common sense, JimK.
Did someone leave their sense of humor at the door? It was a joke for chrissakes. I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than go for a drive with You-know-who.
Actually, I thought it was quite clever. You can picture Biden later at the press conference:
"Dangerous? I was referring to the shotgun incident, of course. Jeez, you guys in the press blow everything out of proportion!"
"But Senator! A blogger on Maggie's Farm said-"
"Bloggers? Bloggers? We don' need no steenking bloggers!"
Sheesh. The respect we get, huh?
I think the last move of "the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history" should be this:
IF O WINS, in early January, just to be safe and spare the country any horrors, of an O administration President Bush should issue blanket pardons of anyone and everyone who served in his administrations. Then Bush should resign.
At that point, President Cheney should hand Bush a blanket pardon.
Phil - That's a very interesting take on the matter, and one even the R/W bloggers haven't taken up. Everything they've said about Cheney has been defensive, in response to (yet another) Lefty claim that he's taken too much control. This is compounded by the way the VP has traditionally been the guy who cut the ribbon at the new car dealership, not one who's (even writing the words seems a tad surreal) actively involved in the running of the government. So, compared, it's hard to tell where Cheney is just doing the things the VP should have been doing all these years, and where he's actually breached his authority.
MM - As I recall, it was the lady who owned the land they were hunting on that had the best comment. A tough ol' gal, she said something like, "Pfft! A little buckshot? Happens all the time!" The funniest part of the whole episode wasn't the actual incident, but the Washington press elites being righteously upset that they weren't notified first. Cheney actually had the nerve to give the scoop to the small local paper. Been pretty much downhill with the press ever since for the ol' guy.
Understandably, of course. You don't recover from a grievous insult like that overnight.
Vanderleun ... I love your Master Plan! What a great idea -- the howls of Liberal frustration would make the rafters ring for days!
Dr. Merc ... I remember how indignant the Washington Press Corps was. And the fact that they didn't know the difference between buckshot and birdshot. As you all know here on Maggiesfarm, if you shoot a six ounce bird with buckshot, there's nothing left but shreds and feathers. That guy Gregory could have looked this up on Google in 2 or 3 minutes and not made such an egregious ass of himself.
Yipes!! I heard Biden's comment that Cheney was dangerous, but I couldn't think of any reason why. "What is he taking about? What does he mean Cheney's dangerous? I can't think of anything he's done except the hunting thing ???"
But, that's why I love to stop at Maggie's Farm every day- you have contextualized the entire exchange for me- most of which I can now see went flying 'way over my head till tonight!!
Kindest Regards, Susan Lee
Thanks for the kind words, Susan. We aim t' please. The whole thing was a great example of how much can be couched in a few cheerily-delivered lines.
Did someone just say flexible Constitution?
Did someone just say flexible constitution? No. But I will. I've been a slug lately, and this evening went out to ride around and around on my tractor. I don't think my constitution is as flexible as it was. I need some Ben Gay.
"Can you imagine Palin wrangling with Reid over the agenda of the Senate?"
Thought Of The Day Award. :)
We need to get some presidential scholar like James Taranto to write a short history of the VP slot and the rise and fall of its powers throughout the years.
I'm 58, and throughout most of my life, if some roving reporter had walked up to me and asked, "Who's the vice president of the United States?", I suppose my initial reaction would have been, "Uh, hold on a sec..." As I said in some post, traditionally the VP cuts ribbons at opening ceremonies and races to Transbloglovania when they have a big earthquake.
In fact, when I first started hearing Cheney's name spoken in horror on the Lefty sites, I kind of had to puzzle it through. "Let's see...this is the vice president...and he's actually doing something? I don' unnerstand!"
I kept looking for these "abuses of power" they were going on about, and finally realized that what they were complaining about was his doing anything at all. Who would have guessed that it would be the Kos Kids who would cling to traditional values like that?
1. Cut ribbons
2. Visit earthquake victims
3. Shill for the Prez during election year
Anything more than that = "abuse of power"
Tradition is everything over at DailyKos.