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Apr 24, 2006 3:40 am

LA Times on Cheney

A quite extraordinary editorial in today's LA Times, calling on the President to replace Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. The case for replacing Rumsfeld is obvious--though it's unlikely it will occur anytime soon.

The case for replacing Cheney, though, is more interesting. Through the tenure of Alben Barkley, the office was essentially impotent. But ever since Nixon during Eisenhower's term (with the possible exceptions of Hubert Humphrey and Spiro Agnew), the V-P's policy influence has expanded--and expanded considerable with the last three V-Ps (Quayle, Gore, and now Cheney). During the Clinton years, this development was celebrated as a good thing--expanding the V-P's role allowed someone talented like Gore to make a positive contribution to the administration, rather than just represent the US at overseas funerals. But what happens when--as we've seen with this administration--the empowered V-P becomes associated with a failed policy initiative? He can't simply be fired, like a cabinet officer.

The result, in essence, is a constitutional conundrum. This is an office that really isn't designed to execute power, since its occupant can't really be fired for incompetence or policy disagreement--yet over the past 17 years, it has morphed into an office of enormous power. Perhaps the Times is right, and that it's logical to assume with an empowered vice presidency, the security of tenure no longer applies.

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Robert KC Johnson - 4/24/2006

Agreed--but I think there is a kind of linear growth. There were certain aspects (remember the Competitive Committee!) where Quayle had considerable influence over adm. policy; ditto with Gore on environmentalism. But Cheney's influence is obviously greater than any of his predecessors.

Barry DeCicco - 4/24/2006

It's not an *office* of immense power; it's a *man*. Never forget that Cheney picked himself for the job; that says something about the relationship between him and Bush.

Oscar Chamberlain - 4/24/2006

If Cheney turns out to be an issue in 2006, I suspect you may see a reversal of the trend of giving VP's power. However, one must remember that Cheney's power goes far beyond that given previous VP's. I don't remember anyone thinking that Gore, Quayle, or the elder Bush under Reagan could determine fundamental policy.

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