By John R. Lott, Jr.
When you interview for a job, here is a hint: make sure you know what the job is. Joe Biden failed that test last Thursday. He couldn’t even get right what a vice president does, but the media didn’t notice.
The media is all over itself about how smart and experienced Biden is. Political analyst Charlie Cook is quoted in the Washington Post on Saturday as saying “Biden is clearly so much more knowledgeable, by a factor of about a million.” Saturday Night Live does a skit about Biden being smart, if slimy. Meanwhile, Governor Sarah Palin is treated as being nothing more than a simpleton.
Yet, take Biden’s statement from the debate on the role of the vice president:
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. Everyone should understand that.One should be careful when throwing around terms such as “most dangerous” and “bizarre.” But Biden is confusing which part of the Constitution covers the Executive Branch (it is Article II, not Article I). More importantly, the notion that the vice president can preside over the Senate only when there is a tie vote is simply wrong. Nor is it true that the only legislative involvement the vice president has is to break tie votes. The vice president is the president of the Senate, where he interprets the rules and can only be overridden by a vote of 60 senators.
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive, and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.
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