Am I writing about a vice-presidential debate, or WWE?
I thought that Biden showed that he is much more of a policy expert than Palin. But, everyone knew that going into the debate, so I'm not sure how much Obama can gain from it. Palin's performance probably would surprise more voters. Chances are, over the last couple of weeks the perception of Palin that many hold has been formed by Tina Fey's impersonation and select clips of the Katie Couric interview. For those people, they were probably surprised at how well she did.
Joe Biden did have another gaffe, something he has become quite well known for. This is what he said:
Now here is the part of the Constitution he is referring to:
BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.
This appears in Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President,
First, this part of the Constitution deals with the legislative branch, not the executive branch as Biden claimed.
Second, nothing in the Constitution states that the vice-president's primary role is to support the president. In the original document, the vice-president was the second place finisher in the presidential race, so it was likely the the VP would be an opponent of the president anyway.
Third, the Constitution says that the VP will only vote when it is a tie vote, but it does not say that is the only time that the VP will preside over the Senate. In the early Congresses, the VP did preside over the Senate. It is only because of custom that, today, the VP only presides during a tie-vote or ceremonial occasions.
I was watching the post-debate commentary on PBS and was surprised that no one picked up on that. They even had presidential historians!