Thursday, October 02, 2008

One VP Q I'd like to see

The New York Times gathered together a panel of commentators and surveyed them for questions they'd like to see at tonight's debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Most of the questions the NYT solicited were of the "Gotcha!" variety towards one running mate or the other, but there was one question, directed towards both of them, that I would really like to hear Palin and Biden's views on:

The claim by Dick Cheney that he was exempt from certain disclosure requirements because the vice president was a “legislative officer” has been greeted with outrage. But the main power the Constitution grants the vice president is a legislative one — breaking a tie vote in the Senate.

So, Governor Palin, Senator Biden, doesn’t Mr. Cheney have a point?

But, then, if the vice president is a legislative officer, how can he wield the vast executive powers that Mr. Cheney has exercised, including orchestrating and supervising a warrantless wiretapping program?

Can the vice president shift between branches at his convenience? If not, what, in your view, is the constitutional status of the vice presidency?

— GENE HEALY, the author of “The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power”

Given Cheney's unusually prominent role as vice president in the Bush Administration, this is an extremely pertinent question, and one that gets to the heart of what Palin and Biden each see themselves doing should their tickets prevail. It's perfect for the vice presidential debate.

Meaning, of course, that there is roughly a 0.000002% chance it will be asked tonight (and that high only because it takes a swipe at the Bush Administration in passing).


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