Friday, October 3, 2008

The Debate

I'm not a huge Sarah Palin fan. While I think she's an intelligent woman, I think she is, at this moment in her life, vastly underqualified for the position she seeks. Whether or not she ever would be qualified is a discussion lots of people are having all over the place. So I watched the debates last night while doing other things, because to give it my full attention would cause me too much pain. And yes, I must say, she exceeded the expectations of many, though those expectations had been set so low in the previous days that just by not wetting herself or accidentally setting the stage on fire I think she would have managed to accomplish that.

She was the pre-Couric interview Palin, who I still had plenty of problems with. But as many problems as I had with the talking points style of her debating, not answering the questions, winking at the camera, and thinking that just because she says it makes it true (and I just loved Biden nailing her on the maverick claim at the end, which was perfectly done in time and tone), can someone besides Chris Matthews please follow up on this:

"I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate."

I'm assuming that she hasn't actually read the Constitution, so let me tell you what the Constitution says about the Vice President.

Article 1, Section 3. The Vice President of 
the United States shall be President of the Senate, but
shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also
a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice
President, or when he shall exercise the Office of
President of the United States.

That's the section about the vice presidential role with the Senate. Article 2 of the Constitution discusses how the Vice President is elected (which is changed by Amendment 12, to prevent another Aaron Burr fiasco), acting as president in case of removal or death of the President and impeachment.

And then there is Amendment 20, which formalizes the line of succession, and actually makes the Vice President become President because if you actually read the Constitution, Article 2 doesn't say the Vice President becomes President upon death or removal of the President, just that he or she acts as such, so this codifies previous practice.

Now, I'm not sure where you are getting your Constitution support there for an enlarged role in the Senate. You sure aren't getting it from Farrand's transcription of Madison's notes. If you read those (Friday, September 7, 1787), you'll see that the Framers gave the job of Senate president to the Vice President so he would have something to do, and so a Senator wouldn't have to act as president and not be able to vote and represent their own state, not to enforce the president's legislative agenda on the Senate. They explicitly stated it was not to give the vice-president a legislative function. To argue that there is a robust legislative role for the Vice President's office is to ignore the entire concept of checks and balances upon which our Constitution was founded. This is the Cheney Doctrine we're hearing. It's dangerous. It's wrong. It's fundamentally against the principles upon which our country was based. Dare I say it's un-American? And just because you wink at me when you say it, doesn't make it okay.


Anonymous said...

Here here. And yeah, we caught that last night too.


Kristin said...

As a student of history myself, hearing people mangle fundamental concepts written down in black and white, there for anyone to read (and clear as a bell, no interpretation involved) makes my head and heart hurt.

You can't make things up, Sarah. We have the document. We know what it says.

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