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"It's Broke, So Let's Break It Some More!"

This is an unusual day for me. Most days, I can find something in the Boston Globe that's just plain stupid politically, and today's no exception. But for once, the dumbness isn't based on their bias, but just plain ignorance.

Today, they ran a column by a former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services. Mr. D'Alesandro thinks we should make the office of the vice-presidency an elected one, independent of the presidency.

Mr. D'Alessandro puts together a few good arguments, but he overlooks some stark political realities. The biggest is in looking at the very nature and role of the vice president.

Go and look at the United States Constitution. The sole duty given to the vice-president is to preside over the Senate -- and only vote if there is a tie.

That's it.

Everything else relegated to the vice president is purely potential. They can assume the powers of the president upon the president's disability or absence. They become president upon the president's premature removal. And they have a part to play in declaring the president disabled.

Translation: every single power of the vice president -- apart from Capitol Hill -- is derived from the good will of the presidency. The president can entrust the veep with all manner of authority and responsibility -- and can take it back at whim.

That means that the office of veep is worth, as one of its occupants put it, "a bucket of warm spit." (Personally, I believe the rumors that reporters cleaned up Mr. Garner's language, which referred to an entirely different bodily fluid.)

Which makes the compatibility of the president and vice-president absolutely essential if the vice-president is to have anything at all to do.

Perhaps Mr. D'Alessandro's idea could work, if it was combined with giving the vice-president a bit of authority on his own. But I don't think so. That would detract from the singular power of the chief executive, and that is an essential part of our government.

So yeah, the office of the vice-presidency is, by and large, an afterthought, an "appendix" of the body politic. But as any good doctor will tell you, you don't pre-emptively remove it. You wait until it proves a problem. In the meantime, it isn't causing any real problems -- and this "fix" would only make it worse.


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Comments (12)

Also, we've tried the VP as... (Below threshold)
meep:

Also, we've tried the VP as runner-up in electoral votes and it didn't turn out so well. I see no problem with voting for Pres & VP as a package deal. There may be more difficulty when the VP was never voted on (such as with Gerald Ford), but that's something different.

I think these thoughts aris... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I think these thoughts arise from the use of "Darth" Cheney as an advisor. This is not unlike wanting to ditch the electoral college. At least until a Democrat wins again by the electoral college rules, then they will be a.o.k. The same will go for when Democrats take the Presidency again. Then it will be all about maintaining tradition.

Two notes: first, we starte... (Below threshold)

Two notes: first, we started out with exactly this system, and the second amendment to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights was to fix it, because it failed in practice; second, the VP was designed this way because presiding over the Senate was considered critical enough to merit a constitutionally-protected office. The founders were, largely, Whigs (even if not by party affiliation), seeing the legislative branch as the preeminent branch of government.

Chalk it up to "doddering o... (Below threshold)
moseby:

Chalk it up to "doddering old fool" syndrome like greenspan. Man, we got him out in time, eh?

And when the veep had that ... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

And when the veep had that hunting accedent last year the liberal left-wing news media went on a feeding frenzie as they always do no wonder the sharks and vultures dislike them

Congress is already one of ... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Congress is already one of the most dis-respected organizations in the country, only slightly above the MSM. Let them try this and they'll fall below the media, a short fall, but a negative (below 0) number by those that approve of the democrat congress will look even worse.

D'Alessandro is a twit. Sin... (Below threshold)

D'Alessandro is a twit. Since he's given up his High Horse (left Hancock), he's been trying to establish himself as some big political essayist. He's got an ego the size of Rhode Island and the political sense of Alfred E Neuman.

As Jeff and meep said, we t... (Below threshold)

As Jeff and meep said, we tried this before. It didn't work. Can you imagine 1980 with this system? Ronald Reagan president, former president Jimmy Carter vice-president. Oh that would have been fun!

Or two separate slots? Ronald Reagan president, Walter Mondale vice-president?

Talk about incoherent!

The tradition the Bush Admi... (Below threshold)
kim:

The tradition the Bush Administration broke was wasting the talents of a fine person by making them Veep.
=====================

Just think what Al Gore mig... (Below threshold)
kim:

Just think what Al Gore might have matured into if he hadn't spent 8 years in situation where no one took him seriously. On second thought, nevermind.
========================================================

On third thought, no one's ... (Below threshold)
kim:

On third thought, no one's ever taken Al Gore seriously, except himself. And it shows.
====================================

Wait one damn minute!! al ... (Below threshold)
moseby:

Wait one damn minute!! al gore serves a purpose!! I love pointing and laffing at that clown!!




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