Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Constitution and Mrs. Palin - Part 1

On the Role of Vice President

On one hand we have Mrs. Palin mocking President Obama, saying (VIDEO), "we need a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor..." But when energizing Teaparty crowds she points to the Constitution as the yellow brick road to perfect freedom and prosperity: "...that the Constitution provides the path to a more perfect union — it’s the Constitution."

The pols that Mrs. Palin endorses often refer to the Constitution in their cry for smaller government. From Rand Paul's site we read, "The Federal Government must return to its constitutionally enumerated powers and restore our inalienable rights." The Teaparty platform recently adopted by Maine's GOP repeatedly mentions the Constitution. Hypocritically, the document demands that "legislation must adhere to the restrictions ... in the Constititution to protect the individual from intrusive government," while at the same time insisting on anti-choice and anti-gay marriage "family values."

Mrs. Palin and her supporters talk a lot about the Constitution, but has Mrs. Palin ever really read it, studied it, understood it? Back before she was chosen as John McCain's running mate she was quizzed about being a potential VP pick.

As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?

She continued, "I'm used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question."

Here is a 44-year-old Governor of one of our 50 states, who seems clueless about the executive branch of the Federal government and wants someone else to look it up for her! She clearly sounds concerned that the role may not be important enough, anyway. Well, Mrs. Palin, according to the Constitution, the Vice President is a backup in the event the President is removed, dies, resigns, or is unable to discharge the duties of the office. The Vice President also has an honorary role as President of the Senate, and is allowed a vote only in the case of a tie. That's pretty much it.

After accepting McCain's invitation to join him on the 2008 campaign trail, Mrs. Palin began to imagine the role of Vice President as something larger and more grand than what the Constitution calls for. In an interview with KUSA, a Denver NBC affiliate, she told a youthful caller that, "A vice president … also, they're in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom. And it's a great job and I look forward to having that job."

During the single 2008 Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden, Mrs. Palin continued her quest to expand the role for which she was campaigning. In response to a question from Gwen Ifill about knowing what a VP does every day, Mrs. Palin responded, "Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. 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 and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are." It boggles the mind, truly it does.

After the debate, Carl Cameron of Fox News questioned Mrs. Palin on her comments regarding what the Vice President does, to which she responded, "The vice president, of course, is not a member, or a part of the legislative branch, except to oversee the Senate. That alone provides a tremendous amount of flexibility and authority if that vice president so chose to use it."

There is no tremendous flexibility and authority given to the Vice President by the Constitution. Was Mrs. Palin channeling former VP Dick Cheney who clearly broke the mold of Vice Presidents throughout history? I can only assume that Mrs. Palin envisioned herself as an inside agitator, proddin' them Senators to vote for rill Amerikuns and expandin' drillin' and preventin' women from choosin', also, too. But did she get her interpretation from the Constitution? I think not.
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