Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Imperial Vice Presidency 2.0

I wrote something recently about the notion of the Imperial Vice Presidency. Today Digby writes about the results of what he calls a quiet coup that indicates that Cheney "considers himself even more "unitary" than he considers the president, beyond all reach of either branch, answerable to no one".
TPM , The Carpetbagger Report and others including yours truly wrote recently about this bizarre new theory that the VP's office has cooked up apparently granting him some sort of special, unaccountable status as an office that is both Executive and Legislative and so reports to nothing and no one.

Steve Benen reports tonight that this is actually a working theory they are using in other circumstances:
An important legal ruling is pending over Vice President Cheney's refusal to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity. The Information Security Oversight Office, which is responsible for the policy and oversight of the government's security classification system, has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to direct Cheney's office to disclose these statistics.

Cheney's office provided the information until 2002 but then stopped doing so, J. William Leonard, the director of ISOO, told U.S. News. At issue is whether the office of the vice president is an executive branch entity when it comes to supporting the activities of the president and the vice president. The reporting requirements for disclosing classification and declassification activity fall under a presidential executive order.

"Basically the definition says that any entity of the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information is covered by the reporting requirements," says Leonard. "I have my understanding of what the executive order requires, and I'm going to the attorney general to ascertain if my reading of the executive order is correct."

However, Megan McGinn, Cheney's deputy press secretary, says the vice president's office is exempt.

"This matter has been thoroughly reviewed," McGinn told U.S. News, "and it has been determined that reporting requirements do not apply to the office of the vice president, which has both legislative and executive functions."
Benen says: "At the risk of sounding intemperate, this is insane."

At the risk of sounding even more intemperate, Dick Cheney may need to be removed from office. This makes Dick Nixon's theories of presidential power look like childsplay.

When I asked if Cheney had "found" a fourth branch of government in position that until a decade or so ago was considered a seat warmer for a presidential run and the designated state funeral stand-in for the president, I didn't realize they were actually setting this forth as a legal argument. Dear God.

This means that he considers himself even more "unitary" than he considers the president, beyond all reach of either branch, answerable to no one.

Cheney is refusing to comply with a presidential executive order. What do you suppose the Empty Codpiece feels about this? Does he know that his Vice president believes he has an independent office that doesn't answer to him or anyone else?

But maybe Junior likes being publicly humiliated by Dick Cheney. He seems to have a very high tolerance for looking like one of history's most memorable horses asses, so who knows?


Blogger liberal journal man said...

It's an insane legal argument. So insane, I shouldn't be surprised with this group.

Then again, it seems a good deal of policy has been run through the OVP rather than the Oval Office. Maybe we should think about abolishing the Vice Presidency? I mean, I also have a lot of questions about LBJ's path to the Presidency...

10:31 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

It is truly bizarre but, when you elect a tool, expect it to get used.

I still think that at some later date, we will be asked by younger people: what on earth could you have been thinking?

10:39 PM  

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