I'm sure this has already been diaried (although a search didn't reveal anything specific), but I wanted to refocus attention on Palin's biggest outrage of the night.
When asked what she saw as the Vice President's role, she responded:
Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation
If that doesn't flood your veins with ice-water, nothing will.
The last 8 years have seen unprecedented and dangerous (I would go so far as to say lethal) growth of the VP's role in American politics. I say lethal, because every single death in Iraq can and should be laid firmly at Cheney's feet. It was his gung-ho "Let's fight a quick, popular war" attitude and manipulation of the American political establishment and people that led us into the quagmire that is Iraq as of this moment.
Additionally, Cheney's lawyers have argued (apparently successfully) before Congressional Committee, that the VP is neither part of the Executive or Legislative Branches, essentially placing him above the Law, oversight or discipline. Joe Biden was absolutely correct last night when he asserted:
Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history.
As Rachel Maddow rightly pointed out immediately following the debate, eight years ago, there may have been a few raised eyebrows at the comment by Palin, but today there should be screams of outrage. Questions should be asked:
What new powers does she seek? Why does she seek them? What, exactly, is her understanding of the Constitution that leads her to make such a remarkable and unwarranted assertion?
That she is utterly deluded in her interpretation of the Constitution is undeniable. Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America states:
The Vice President of the United States shall be president of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
That's pretty clear; there is no other interpretation regarding Vice Presidential powers available within that sentence. How can it be interpreted otherwise? I have heard no Constitutional scholar who even attempts such a thing.
The Vice President is held to the same Oath of Office as the President; his role is defined by the same Article of the Constitution as the President (Article II) and thus the only interpretation of his powers is that he, too, is a member of the Executive Branch. It is hard to understand why Cheney has been able to claim otherwise, and it laid the groundwork for Palin's ridiculous and terrifying assertion last night.
Biden slapped her down, and hard, last night; he made it clear that his role as VP would be the traditional role as determined by the Framers of the Constitution. We would do well if we drew attention time and again, at every opportunity, to Palin's desire for more power, for greater leeway to break the Constitution wide open.
Bush and Cheney began the process of transforming the Constitution into an historical relic, a curio for future generations to read and wonder how it fell into disuse. McCain-Palin would finish the job.
Make no mstake. Palin is dangerous, and we need to make everyone aware of this. It seems to have been lost in the noise of last night, but we need to push this; hard.
Don't give up. Repeat it. Write letters to the editor of your newspapers. Write emails to every cable and network news outlet. Don't let this die.
It may be too late for McCain anyway. I hope and pray it is. But let us not make it easier, in no matter how small a way, for Palin and McCain to get away with this terrifying vision of an extended and overmighty Unitary Executive, modelled on the Bush-Cheney Administration, but perfected, empowered, making Congress and the traditional checks and balances of our system impotent relics of a bygone era.