Monday, October 6, 2008

The Heartbeat Job

Three decades after Mr. Rockefeller departed the office, Dick Cheney has transformed it into a veritable fourth branch of government.

Cheney seems to have claimed that the VP is both in the executive and the legislative branches. Who bought that argument?

His authority at times seemed to eclipse that of President Bush.

Well, besides Georgie W?

Mr. Goldstein said the ascendancy of the office began with Walter Mondale, who secured a central role as adviser. Jimmy Carter gave him a West Wing office, an autonomous staff and access to all key meetings, perks that have gone to succeeding vice presidents.

[Joel K. Goldstein, a law professor at St. Louis University and author of “The Modern American Vice Presidency: The Transformation of a Political Institution.”]

Vice presidents after Mr. Mondale were given wider scope than those who came before. President Clinton entrusted Al Gore with the chore of streamlining government and overseeing global warming policy. He also carried a substantial foreign affairs portfolio.

Dan Quayle had a lesser role but kept the West Wing office and met regularly with the first President Bush. He spent much of his time on goodwill missions, raising money and chairing panels on the economy and space.

Meaning that Al Gore was given responsibilities outside of the mainstream responsibilities of the President, but important ones, while Dan Quayle went to teas.

Mr. Cheney has taken the office to a new level. He honed his bureaucratic skills as White House chief of staff under Gerald Ford, and during 10 years in Congress and 4 as defense secretary under the first President Bush. When he returned to the White House in 2001, he negotiated a broad brief from President George W. Bush.

Cheney goes back to Ford, a point not often mentioned. That amounts to more than 30 years of being in the loop.

In 1989, George H. W. Bush was flying to Malta for a meeting with Soviet leaders when Philippine military officers attempted a coup. Mr. Quayle assembled the National Security Council to consider a response. Mr. Cheney, then secretary of defense, refused to attend because the vice president has no place in the military chain of command, according to an account in “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” by Barton Gellman of The Washington Post.

That is very telling: the VP, when it was Quayle, was not in the military chain of command (and didn't Bush 41 consider delegating authority to his VP?), but when it is Cheney, the VP is in the chain of command.

This picture tells all.

No comments:

Post a Comment