If Vice President-elect Joe Biden were slightly less enamored with his own voice he might not confuse himself so often on issues that matter so much, such as his views of presidential and vice presidential authority.
We've all heard about Biden's feud with Vice President Dick Cheney over Cheney's supposed view of executive authority relative to the other branches of government and Cheney's view of the vice president's role.
These happen to be two separate issues. Whether the president encroaches on the constitutional authority of the other branches is a different issue from whether the vice president oversteps his bounds inside the executive branch, or in his limited role in the legislative branch.
The problem is that Biden conflates these issues. He can't seem to keep straight whether he's exercised about an overreaching executive branch or an overreaching vice president mostly inside that branch.
My guess is that he confuses the two issues because, like other Democrats and liberals, he sees Cheney as the real villain in both cases. He blames Cheney, Bush's presumed puppet master, for Bush's alleged executive power grabs and he blames Cheney for overstepping his bounds as vice president.
Let's try to look at these issues separately, even though the players, in this case, overlap.
Reasonable people can disagree whether President Bush acted outside his scope of executive authority in various aspects of prosecuting the war on terror, such as in his handling of the NSA terrorist surveillance program. I believe history will soundly vindicate him, showing that he did consult and obtain the tacit approval of Congress on most of these matters. Moreover, the Constitution designates the president as commander in chief, never intending that wars be prosecuted by congressional committee.
How about Biden's claim that Cheney has arrogated too much power as VP?
In the vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin, Biden famously said, "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the executive branch. He works in the executive branch. He should understand that."
Biden can be forgiven for misidentifying the correct Article -- Article II covers the executive branch. But is there validity in his assertion that Cheney has been the most dangerous VP?
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