28 June 2007

Responsibility for delegated authority.*

I'm a big fan to the Constitution (right up there on my list of favorite documents ever). But despite all of the wisdom encased in that document it fails on one serious point. That is providing a clear job definition of the work that the vice president should do.

The original document stated that the vice president should be the person who came in second in the general election (which honestly makes impeaching the president so much more appealing). The 12th amendment changed the manner by which we elect vice presidents but the document as a whole leaves very little clarity on what the office is responsible for.

I don't have a problem with the fact that the President has delegated significant amounts of power to the VP. In his own way Cheney is a very capable administrator with a lifetime of Washington experience.

The problem is who do you assign blame to when he does something wrong. As obscene as it seems the office of the VP is not a normal cabinet office. He is an elected official and serves at the will of the people. Everyone else is nominated and approved by the Senate and serves at the pleasure of the President.

The motion to defend the office of the vice president as part of the executive branch is indeed theater and is in my opinion low theater. As a matter of tradition the VP is a member of the executive branch. If he is breaking the rules, congress shouldn't act like an unhappy parent and withhold his allowance. They should follow the steps that are granted them in the Constitution. That is impeach him.

The hard part is deciding who to impeach. Do you impeach the President for poor delegation or do you impeach the Vice President for breaking the laws that he was given to enforce.

I say impeach them both. The vice president has broken laws and ignored the constitution. He has abused the trust of the American people and it should not be permitted.

However, to return to my previous point, the job of VP is not defined beyond Senate tie breaker and presidential understudy. Therefore any additional power that he holds is delegated from the President. As we say in the military you can delegate authority but never responsibility. The president of the United States has granted incredible power to the VP. Failure to ensure that that power is used correctly leaves him just as guilty.

*This post was originally posted here as a comment.

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