Balkinization  

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dick Cheney and Risk Taking

Sandy Levinson

Imagine that one read that an outbreak of mad cow disease was discovered in Nebraska. No doubt many ostensibly rational Americans would stop eating beef, even though the actual risk of being infected with mad cow disease would be astonishingly low. Similarly, we all know people who have cancelled travel plans after a terrorist incident in London, Madrid, or Jerusalem, even though risk of one's personally being at peril is quite low (probably less than the risk one takes in driving on non-divided highways for any apprciable distance).

So why do we put up with the risk that Dick Cheney could become President of the United States should anything happen to George W. Bush? Forget about Bush bashing for the moment. Can anyone seriously doubt that Dick Cheney has at once been the most important and most catastrophic Vice President in American history? Can anyone seriously doubt that his ascension to the presidency would provoke a world-wide political crisis?

So should our defective Constitution be amended to allow the removal of a vice president whenever, in the opinion of Congress, (s)he has demonstrated good cause for doubt about the capacity to fill the Oval Office? Many persons have attacked my argument for bounding a President on a "no-confidence" vote because, among other things, it would be destabilizing. I disagree, but reasonable arguments can be found on both sides. Why would any serious person, though, believe that it would be destabilizing to bounce a demented, delusional, quasi-fascistic vice-president whose habitation of the White House and gain of the vast powers of the presidency with regard to foreign policy and military affairs would quite literally threaten us all? (If you like Dick Cheney and think he's doing a great job, you really need not reply, since by definition you think there's no problem. This posting is directed at people who do believe that Cheney presents a problem even now, and a potential for disaster almost beyond belief should he become president. (And recall, he has 712 remaining days in which that possibility could occur. Remember that the apparently physically fit Jim Foxx collapsed and died while engaging in one of his well-publicized runs. Who knows what accidents are possible with a mountain bike on rugged terrain?) If you do share anything close to my view about the demerits of our Vice President, and if you would be tempted to stop eating beef or pick New Zealand as your next vacation destination rather than London or Jerusalem, then what prevents you from recognizing that it would be terrific to be able to nip the risk of a Cheney presidency in the bud?

It's probably too late, as a practical matter, but just as we pass "Megan's law" and "Polly's law," etc., etc., etc., when it's too late to held the murdered youngsters in an effort to help other potentially vulnerable children, why don't we pass "Dick's Amendment," which would allow us a procedure to get rid of any future vice president who is as potentially disastrous as the incumbent?

Comments:

"Can anyone seriously doubt that Dick Cheney has at once been the most important and most catastrophic Vice President in American history?"

Um, "yes"?

Frankly, Sandy, I think your rather over the top language concerning the present administration has reached the point where it's probably actually impeding reform of Presidential succession, to the extent that your writings have any influence on the subject at all. You'd be far better off making a case for reform less based on the assumption that Bush/Cheney are uniquely horible, and more on the general merits of the thing.

"Forget about Bush bashing for a moment, I want to get in some Cheney bashing." is not a terribly persuasive mode of argument.
 

Um, "No".

This isn't about bashing. This is about exposing one of the most prolific extortionists in U.S. history for what he is. This is about actions that have costs innocent men and women their lives. This is about the sensitive nature of international relations and what could potentially result from the ascension of a delusional madman with a tempermental pace-maker and a penchant for shooting his friends and repressing his homosexual daughter. Kudos, Sandy, for raising a very pertinent issue, one that we MUST address if there is even the slightest chance that that psychopath could take the reigns.
 

Prof. Levinson:

Can anyone seriously doubt that [Cheney's] ascension to the presidency would provoke a world-wide political crisis?

C'mon, Prof. Levinson, we don't need to speculate. He did, and it's a "catastrophic success" (in the inimitable words of the maladministration).

Cheers,
 

Let me amplify on this point:

If there were some kind of consensus that the present Administration were remotely as horrible as you suggest, both the President and Vice President could be impeached and removed from office. The fact that nobody is attempting such an action is evidence that, while Bush and Cheney are not particularly popular at the moment, only a relatively small portion of the population, mostly confined to the Democratic party at that, agree with your assessment of them.

You want a fundamental change in the nature of the Presidency, the sort of change which can only be achieved by bipartisan consensus, and you're arguing for it in terms calculated to prevent bipartisan consensus.

Do you really want this change, or are you just venting?
 

Since I was among those criticizing the too-easy removal of the President, I guess I should say that my criticisms don't apply to removal of the Vice. Three times in the past 35 years we've had vice-presidents who were incompetent to take over (Agnew, Quayle, and Cheney). That seems sufficient to think about establishing that they are not tenured but probationary.
 

"brett":

If there were some kind of consensus that the present Administration were remotely as horrible as you suggest, both the President and Vice President could be impeached and removed from office. The fact that nobody is attempting such an action is evidence that, while Bush and Cheney are not particularly popular at the moment, only a relatively small portion of the population, mostly confined to the Democratic party at that, agree with your assessment of them.

We're getting there (old poll, but Dubya's not generally fared too well lately).

Some more actual hearings, some more facts out (like this), and we'l be on our way....

Cheers,
 

Arne, years have passed since acknowleging Clinton administration criminality could have any impact on the partisan ballance in Washington, and Democratic denial on the subject is as refractory as ever. While your confidence that Republicans will prove more objective if put to the test is touching, I see no basis for it.

Still, my argument is not that it would be impossible to establish a consensus on Bush administration criminality. It is that relying on that consensus before it exists does not advance Sandy's argument. If the time comes when Sandy's opinion of this administration is widely held, he might then appeal to it as a reason to change Presidential succession.

Not today.
 

Brett:

Arne, years have passed since acknowleging Clinton administration criminality could have any impact on the partisan ballance in Washington...

You problem here is that there was no "Clinton administration criminality". $60M of our taxpayer money and six years, and they couldn't find anything wrong. OTOH, now we have this.

... While your confidence that Republicans will prove more objective if put to the test is touching, I see no basis for it.

No, we just indict and convict enough (see above) and maybe we'll get the numbers. But I see you misspelled "more honest and upright". We do have the Nixon resignation to go on, but since then the Republicans seem to be a more partisan and less ethical crew (see above).

Cheers,
 

"You problem here is that there was no "Clinton administration criminality"."

See what I mean? Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
 

Brett:

[Arne]: "You problem here is that there was no "Clinton administration criminality"."

See what I mean? Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.


Ummm, Freeper/ClownHall/WhirledNutzDaily screeching doesn't count. Allegations, "Clinton Body Counts", and elisions of the law don't count. Dubya's maladministration (and today's Republican party), OTOH, may be the most corrupt since St. Ronnie's, if not the best/worst of all time (see above).

Cheers,
 

Well, that's handy; Just define any source that would want to look at Clinton criminality as out of bounds, and all Clinton criminality vanishes.

Let's see; We've got the privacy act violations, we've got political IRS audits, (Nixon only threatened those, we had to wait for Clinton to see them actually delivered.) we've got campaign donations from the Chinese people's liberation army, we've got people sought by the feds sneaking out the back door of the Whitehouse while the FBI is delayed at the front door... AND, we've got a smoothly functioning obstruction of justice machine leaping into action in the Monica case, which Democrats want to believe never got any other use..

Yup, it's denial.
 

I know this is the most trivial of trivial points, but wasn't the runner's name Jim Fixx?

FWIW, I do agree the VP is criminally incompetent, something I would have never imagined 6 years ago.

There is a tension between the desirability of insulating a "good" unpopular president (i.e. Truman or Lincoln) and the ability to remove a "bad" or "disastrous" president (Bush, IMHU). I suppose the same may be said for VP's, although normally we don't know much about the competency of the VP (perhaps this is changing in the modern era). The U.S. probably errs to far on the side of insulation. For example, Winston Churchill was removed from office (granted in an election) immediately after WWII. Great Britain survived. Now, at that time the immediate crisis of WWII had ended (and the cold war was only about to begin). But, to look at it another way, who would have wanted Neville Chamberlain to continue in office in a time of crisis? Again the consitutional design question is a tradeoff in choosing which is worse: getting rid of an unpopular "good" president, or keeping in office a (to paraphrase Sandy) "criminally incompetent" president. At the moment, I would prefer to remove the latter, by any means necessary (with a nod to Malcolm X).
 

i have long gotten past the point of being tired listening to rants about clinton from those who have nothing and never did have anything good to say about him. bill clinton, at the moment, is yesterday's news. the subject of this post was the alleged competence and alleged corruption of dick cheney, who as the PRESENT vice-president, is certainly relevant to today's issues.

ok brett, we get the point. you don't like clinton. you never did like clinton. you never will like clinton. you never will get over the fact that you don't like clinton. fine.

as noted, the subject of the post was how it is that the constitution allows dick cheney to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. agree with it. disagree with it. i don't care which side you take, but stick to the point. if i wanted to hear more "i hate clinton" nonsense, i'd tune in to the drones over at fox.
 

Interesting idea, Sandy. Frankly, I'm with you on a constitutional amendment to allow a "no confidence" vote. There is no reason it can't be structured with some common-sense safeguards to make it practical. I'd also favor including direct election of the President/Vice President, or even abolishing the office of Vice President. Who needs it, anyway?

Perhaps one reason there is little current support in congress for impeachment is that there is no direct polling on the question. If members had a poll that, for example, showed 70% of America wanted Bush/Cheney tossed, it might be a different story. I recently put up a contact list of polling organizations and major media clients, if anyone here would like to request such a question. See: http://samthornton.blogspot.com/2007/02/do-pols-love-polls.html
 

I am supportive of any effort to enact "Dick's Amendment." I would even be willing to include language that would make it prospective so as to remove any political implications in the here and now.

How should we proceed in our attempt to accomplish that goal?
 

I hope I don't sound too ungenerous, but I do wish that some people would have read this particular posting more carefully. I have no interest at all in demonstrating that Dick Cheney is a criminal, any more than I have, if truth be known, in doing the same with George W. Bush. Some of you may be surprised to know that I had an article in last week's Nation (I don't know how to hyperlink in comments like this one) arguing against impeachment. The point I've been trying to make, perhaps obsessively, is that it is perverse to be in a situation where it's "better" to have a criminal than an incompetent as president or vice-president. I think it is an open question, and one I'm not particularly interested in arguing, whether George W. Bush has committed anything that could reasonably be decribed as a "high crime and misdemeanor." It's also irrelevant.

All of you know that I'd like a procedure of no-confidence in a president. But my proposal in this particular posting focuses only on the VP, and it is that Congress, in the future (because the requisite constitutional amendment isn't going to happen before the end of the Bush Administration) be able to state that they do not regard a vice president as an appropriate president, without having to turn the discussion over to lawyers. Please, please do not confuse this with an entirely different discussion about what counts as an impeachable offense. I hate the impeachment clause precisely because it takes the discussion away from politics and turns it into a legalistic one.

It is nothing less than a scandal the way we treat the vice presidency. Selection is regarded as something like a droit de signor (excuse me if I have misspelled this), in which we treat a newly nominated candidate as a monarch. LIke Caligula, he can apparently pick his horse as VP. See, e.g., Goldwater picking Bill Miller, Nixon picking Spiro Agnew, and George H. W. Bush picking Dan Quayle. Note carefully that I do not include George W. Bush picking Dick Cheney. If resume were enough, Cheney would be one of the more qualified vice presidents in our history. What has made him unfit to be president is what has been revealed about his character and judgment since taking that office. Some attribute this to side effects of his heart trouble. I don't know if that's true, but it speaks to the need for more information about the medical records of all candidates for the two highest offices, given the potential consequences of their decisions.

In any event, I am happy to acknowledge that Brett and others think that I go overboard in my animosity toward the Bush Administration. Point taken. That has nothing at all to do with whether we would be served, in future years and future administrations (including Democratic ones) with a procedure to get rid of vice presidents who, for whatever reason, demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a relevant supermajority in Congress, that they are unfit to be president.
 

Brett:

Well, that's handy; Just define any source that would want to look at Clinton criminality as out of bounds, and all Clinton criminality vanishes....

No, why don't we look at Ken Starr, darling of Lauch Faircloth, Strom hurmond, and David Sentelle, and Federalist Society darling? Even if we define him as "in bounds" (and not the stark raving partisan tool he was, even he said your list of alleged offences is a big steaming pile.

Cheers,
 

To hyperlink:

within these brackets <> (if I write it out it won't show up) type: a href=""

Paste the URL to be linked to inside the quotation marks

Then type the word(s) you want to serve as the link

Then within these brackets <> type: /a

The result is a link to The Nation.
 

Great article

I hope everybody read this article

forex
 

Arne, you have some cite for Starr dismissing the privacy act violations as bunk, thinking that the IRS wasn't auditing Republican interest groups at the direction of the White house, (Which was actually admitted in court, mind you.) believing that Clinton didn't really get any donations from the Chinese military, and so on? Keeping in mind that I think the "Arkancides" are bunk, too? Clinton was a sleaze, not a murderer.

I mean, just imagine if this had Bush's name on it.
 

Ironic is one way to describe John Barlow's description of Dick Cheney. The linked to essay was written on Feb 23, 2003, about a month before, in the eyes of someone who claims to know the man personally quite well, Cheney hit the mexican bus. I've seen mexican bus drivers in action and dodged my share, but I've never tried the "I'm a really irrational drunk driver" tactic on the buses there. (I've only used that on other cars in mexico - it works actually - they do swerve to avoid you).

If Barlow's insight to the mind of Cheney is at all accurate, the man (Cheney) must be stewing in his own juices at the near-hopeless mess he's helped to orchestrate.
 

This entire conversation is insane. We can't have a political majority no-confidence vote because the Congress and President are elected by different parties. We don't have a Prime Minister who works for the Parliament.

Therefore, the exact situation Mr. Levinson is threatening can occur: A new Congressional election, based on the votes of hundreds of district races often based on local issues, can negate the majority vote of the people, as expressed in the 2004 elections.

In other words, every single time the minority party gains control of Congress, they will evict the Vice President.

Mr. Levinson tries to deflect that rather obvious point by saying Cheney has been "criminal," not just unpopular. Fine, but in this country we have a higher burden of proof for calling someone a criminal--beyond a reasonable doubt in the trial sense, or two-thirds vote of impeachment and conviction in the political sense.

(I'm assuming the proposed no-confidence would be a majority vote, because if it's two-thirds, it wouldn't pass this Congress anyway and the point would be moot.)

Mr. Levinson thinks that bar is too high, but only because it is inconvenient to him now. If Republicans had tried to remove Al Gore because of one of Clinton's scandals, he would have rightly been outraged.

This would happen every time the minority party gained control of Congress with the majority party's President in control. That's a high price to pay just because you happen to think the present VP is "demented" (any medical evidence on that one?)

As for the VP being undemocratically "picked" by the Presidential candidate, if the VP is so bad, that certainly reflects badly on the President in his reelection campaign.

This proposal has absolutely no merit.
 

If anyone thinks removing the Vice President all the time isn't a big deal, remember that succeeding the President is part of his job and he was elected under those terms. If you think it's important not to let Cheney become President, you must acknowledge it's also important for the people to decide who gets to succeed the President.
 

If anyone thinks removing the Vice President all the time isn't a big deal ... If you think it's important not to let Cheney become President, you must acknowledge it's also important for the people to decide who gets to succeed the President.

Personally, and contrary to you and to Christopher, I don't think removal would happen "all the time". I don't believe that sort of hyper-partisanship would sit well with the American people, especially in cases where the VP would be seen as an innocent victim. It would also disrupt the business of Congress without having much impact on the Executive, so the partisan motivation for it would not be all that great.

Whether you're right about this or I am, there are ways to hedge that problem. One would be to require a supermajority (say, 60%) in each house. That would pretty much require at least some level of bi-partisan support.

Approving a new VP could happen two different ways. We could use the current system (25th Amendment). That requires approval by Congress. I'm not sure why you emphasize the importance of popular approval, since that doesn't happen under the current system. In any case, Congressional approval would involve popular approval. That's the whole theory of representative government, after all, and it's the same justification we give for the laws passed by Congress.

There's also a way to avoid the whole problem. We could separate the office of VP from that of the President. There could be an election just for VP, with candidates required to file and run for it. That's how CA handles its lieutenant governor. In that case, if Congress removed a VP, it would make sense to hold a new election for the replacement.

As for the VP being undemocratically "picked" by the Presidential candidate, if the VP is so bad, that certainly reflects badly on the President in his reelection campaign.

Unfortunately, the electorate seems to give this factor essentially zero weight.
 

Brett:

Arne, you have some cite for Starr dismissing the privacy act violations as bunk, thinking that the IRS wasn't auditing Republican interest groups at the direction of the White house, (Which was actually admitted in court, mind you.) believing that Clinton didn't really get any donations from the Chinese military, and so on? Keeping in mind that I think the "Arkancides" are bunk, too? Clinton was a sleaze, not a murderer.

Ummm, you're the accuser; feel free to trot out your evidence. I'd be glad (as would everyone else here) to take this "discussion" off-line (you can reach me at zuch at ix dot netcom dot com). FWIW, Starr, and Ray (after Starr left) investigated multiple allegations [all under the pretense it had something to do with the original "Whitewater" investigation, which Fiske had already concluded amounted to nothing], and turned in a report at the end. Nothing "criminal" and in most cases "no 'there' there" (and keep in mind that "criminal" was your allegation; your words. As for the "Chinese military" stuff, more RW slime. I'll discuss it off-line.

I mean, just imagine if this had Bush's name on it.

What? Dealing with the Chinese? Hell, Dubya apologised to them to get his plane back.

Cheers,
 

Rich (and Sandy and others):

To hyperlink:

within these brackets <> (if I write it out it won't show up) type: a href=""

Paste the URL to be linked to inside the quotation marks

Then type the word(s) you want to serve as the link

Then within these brackets <> type: /a


More specifically, do this:

To produce a link to "http://myblog.edu", with the link text to be displayed in blue as "link to my blog", type this:

<a href="http://myblog.edu">link to my blog</a>

OBTW, to insert a angle-bracjet so it shows up literally, use the HTML character escape:

To get a

< you would type &lt;

> you would type &gt;

and:

& you would type &amp;

(which is basically how I did this)

BTW, if you do use these escapes, do NOT use "preview" in posting; the preview will convert the escapes before the post, and they'll be gone then when you actuall post the message. Instead, carefully proof your post, and post directly
 

"Personally, and contrary to you and to Christopher, I don't think removal would happen "all the time". I don't believe that sort of hyper-partisanship would sit well with the American people, especially in cases where the VP would be seen as an innocent victim. It would also disrupt the business of Congress without having much impact on the Executive, so the partisan motivation for it would not be all that great."

Impeaching and removing Clinton would've taken a 2/3'rd majority, and Republicans still tried it. And that was the President, not the Vice President. Are you sure it wouldn't happen all the time?

And you agree that constant removal would disrupt the business of Congress.

"Whether you're right about this or I am, there are ways to hedge that problem. One would be to require a supermajority (say, 60%) in each house. That would pretty much require at least some level of bi-partisan support."

Well yes, but then you've practically reiterated the impeachment provision, just dropping the idea of "high crimes." I don't think there are 60 Senate votes to remove Cheney, which is from what I can tell the sole impetus for this discussion. And if there are, then lobby really hard for the 67, charge him with the wiretapping, leaking, or whatever, and you're on the way to removing him under the current system.

"Approving a new VP could happen two different ways."

Yes, you can approve a new VP through an appointment process. I'm talking about democratic choice in keeping the old VP in office. Isn't the electorate entitled to they guy they voted for twice? Or does the VP serve at the Congress' pleasure (as if we had a Parliament)?

"There's also a way to avoid the whole problem. We could separate the office of VP from that of the President. There could be an election just for VP, with candidates required to file and run for it. That's how CA handles its lieutenant governor. In that case, if Congress removed a VP, it would make sense to hold a new election for the replacement."

Paging Aaron Burr. Paging Aaron Burr. Please report to the front desk; somebody's forgotten the mess you made back in 1800.

"Unfortunately, the electorate seems to give this factor essentially zero weight."

And you know this...how? Because they reached a democratic decision you don't like? I really do think that is the long and short of this whole debate.
 

"Personally, and contrary to you and to Christopher, I don't think removal would happen "all the time". I don't believe that sort of hyper-partisanship would sit well with the American people, especially in cases where the VP would be seen as an innocent victim. It would also disrupt the business of Congress without having much impact on the Executive, so the partisan motivation for it would not be all that great."

Impeaching and removing Clinton would've taken a 2/3'rd majority, and Republicans still tried it. And that was the President, not the Vice President. Are you sure it wouldn't happen all the time?

And you agree that constant removal would be disruptive to the business of Congress.

"Whether you're right about this or I am, there are ways to hedge that problem. One would be to require a supermajority (say, 60%) in each house. That would pretty much require at least some level of bi-partisan support."

Well yes, but then you've practically reiterated the impeachment provision, just dropping the idea of "high crimes." I don't think there are 60 Senate votes to remove Cheney, which is from what I can tell the sole impetus for this discussion. And if there are, then lobby really hard for the 67, charge him with the wiretapping, leaking, or whatever, and you're on the way to removing him under the current system.

"Approving a new VP could happen two different ways."

Yes, you can approve a new VP through an appointment process. I'm talking about democratic choice in keeping the old VP in office. Isn't the electorate entitled to the guy they voted for twice? Or does the VP serve at the Congress' pleasure (as if we had a Parliament)?

"There's also a way to avoid the whole problem. We could separate the office of VP from that of the President. There could be an election just for VP, with candidates required to file and run for it. That's how CA handles its lieutenant governor. In that case, if Congress removed a VP, it would make sense to hold a new election for the replacement."

Paging Aaron Burr. Paging Aaron Burr. Please report to the front desk; somebody's forgotten the mess you made back in 1800.

"Unfortunately, the electorate seems to give this factor essentially zero weight."

And you know this...how? Because they reached a democratic decision you don't like? I really do think that is the long and short of this whole debate.
 

I apologize: While Aaron Burr does demonstrate the problems of not defining a role for the VP and Pres on the ticket, the example of Jefferson and Adams in 1796 better illustrates my point. It's not a good idea to have separate elections for the two posts because rivals could win the two spots. And that's not conducive to coherent executive policy.
 

Impeaching and removing Clinton would've taken a 2/3'rd majority, and Republicans still tried it. And that was the President, not the Vice President. Are you sure it wouldn't happen all the time?

The incentive to remove the VP is far less than the incentive to remove a President. Even including the abuse of the Clinton impeachment, the process itself has actually been used just twice in over 200 years.

And you agree that constant removal would disrupt the business of Congress.

Yes, and that's an argument in my favor. Congress is unlikely to disrupt its own business, while at the same time having little impact on an executive which I'm presuming it opposes (as you earlier suggested). There's no real benefit there for partisan politics.

Just to be clear, as I mentioned above, I oppose changing the system to allow removal of the President in such a way. That would have exactly the disruptive, undemocratic, and partisan features you suggest. I just don't think those same considerations apply to the VP.

Well yes, but then you've practically reiterated the impeachment provision, just dropping the idea of "high crimes."

That's the whole point. We know there are VPs who are incompetent to be President. They just haven't committed any crime. It should be possible to remove them in other situations as well.

Isn't the electorate entitled to they guy they voted for twice?

If they had actually voted for him, I would agree with you. I don't think they did. In the proposal I made above, if there were a separate election, I'd oppose any Congressional removal except under the current impeachment clause. That may not have been clear from my earlier post.

the example of Jefferson and Adams in 1796 better illustrates my point. It's not a good idea to have separate elections for the two posts because rivals could win the two spots. And that's not conducive to coherent executive policy.

I'm not aware of any way in which Jefferson prevented Adams from formulating a coherent executive policy. In contrast, there actually have been cases where the VP chosen by the same party has interfered with the President (Burr, Clinton, and Calhoun come readily to mind).
 

1) Every political scientist who has studied the issues has concluded that voters pay almost no attention to the vice presidential nominee. At most, (s)he seems to account for approximately 2% of the variance with regard to voters' decisions.

2) There continues to be a monumental complacence about the prospect of an unfit person taking the Oval Office. I despise Cheney, BUT I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT CHENEY WITH REGARD TO THE DICK AMENDMENT. It wouldn't take affect until after he's gone. Some of you have chided me for being too "democratic" and not sufficiently "republican" in my view of the American system of government. But the only argument for not giving Congress (or perhaps a California-type recall election) an option to get ride of a Vice President (remember, I'm not discussing my preference for a no-confidence vote in a president) is, with respect, a mindless reiteration of "the people chose X as vice president" at Time T and it shouldn't matter if information later comes out, including observed decisions and misjudgments, that would lead the public at time T+1 to decide they don't want to take the risk of this person actually to become president and be able to send their children off to military adventures. I am confident tha none of you would continue hiring a babysitter after you read that (s)he was arrested for selling drugs. That would count as new information. You might say, "I'm really surprised," but I'm confident you wouldn't say, "I had confidence in her last month, I continue to have confidence in her now, because no new information is relevant." So why would you be willing to take risks with the future of our country? There is, let me suggest, a profound unseriousness about some of this discussion, in which fantasies of partisan Congresses run riot are supposed to be dispositive with regard to a vice president about whom most political leaders, including members of Congress who can observe him/her up relatively close, genuinely fear taking the helm.
 

1. Agreed. Candidates who offend some part of a party's base often make a point of "ballancing the ticket" with a VP pick, but I think most voters just ignore it, and rightfully.

2. For a guy who's not talking about Bush and Cheney, you sure talk about Bush and Cheney a lot. But, ok, they were just examples, and you're right, such a change could never be adopted in time to effect them.

Basicly, you want to amend the Presidential succession act to allow VPs to be removed by vote of Congress on the basis of "incompetence". A sufficiently vague concept that we might as well admit that the proposal is to allow VPs to be removed for any reason whatsoever.

If a simple majority vote sufficed, I'm quite certain it would be used during periods of divided government, (Which from my limited experience seems to be the best sort.) for the Congressional party to mess with the Exective branch. So we need a supermajority.

I think it's quite evident that a supermajority Congressional removal of the VP would be seldom used. The very fact that the VP has a limited Constitutional role means that clearcut evidence of problems will seldom arise. But, of course, emergency provisions can be worth having even for infrequent emergencies.

I don't see this going anywhere during a period of divided government, because the minority party would (Rightly, IMO) see it as motivated by a partisan desire to attack the incumbant administration.
 

Excellent idea. My only suggestion is that it be expanded to include Co-Presidents.
 

The comments here display considerably more sense than the original post. Yes, it's curious that the president gets to pick anybody he wants to be the next president if he dies, but all the alternatives are plainly worse. Having no VP would give Congress every incentive to impeach the president as soon as the other party takes power, so that the Speaker-- a member chosen much less democratically than the VP-- could ascend to the presidency. (At least the people sort of have a vote for VP, but 434 out of 435 Congressional districts have absolutely no choice in who the Speaker is.)

Have the good sense to look back and think how the same power would have been used against the last Democratic president. Unless you really wish we had a President Gingrich, realize that the VP's most important function is as a break on politically motivated impeachments.
 

"I despise Cheney, BUT I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT CHENEY WITH REGARD TO THE DICK AMENDMENT."

Who finds the way that that's stated less than completely convincing? :)

Frankly, despite all the claims that people pay no attention to the VP in the election, you will never convince me that, for instance, Bush I was not greatly harmed by the ongoing Quayle comedy, and Clinton was not greatly helped by the sight of the similarly smart, Southern, businesslike Gore at his side. The contrast between those two pairs was far more damning than the contrast between Bush and Clinton alone.

Public and press scrutiny of the post has made it harder and harder for presidents to appoint nonentities to any post (see Miers, Harriet); the best argument against this proposal is that, by any standard, Dick Cheney would have been considered extremely well qualified for the vice presidency, and easily elected, confirmed or whatever else you envision.
 

1. "infuriating" is not a synonym for incompetent. Neither is "despising" a case for criminality. The sillygism of the left seems to be that the Iraq war was a mistake, THEREFORE Cheney is incompetent. What an "argument"!!!

2. assuming that Cheney is "really" the President is just another mindless assertion of the left. Just what legislation has he signed? Just what laws does he execute? Just what has he DONE that allows a law profesor to make a sweeping assertion of incompetence w/o backing it up? If you can make a case, built on facts, that Cheney runs everything, and then effs it up, make it. Otherwise STFU.

3. One hunting accident establishes a "penchant" for shooting people? that's not rhetoric, that's a frickin' smear.

4. No criminality in the Clinton administration? Then why did Clinton lose his license to practice law in Arkansas and before the Supreme Court, and why did he plea bargain AND pay fines?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Jim "Fixx". Not "Foxx".
 

"jelink":

2. assuming that Cheney is "really" the President is just another mindless assertion of the left. Just what legislation has he signed? Just what laws does he execute? Just what has he DONE that allows a law profesor to make a sweeping assertion of incompetence w/o backing it up? If you can make a case, built on facts, that Cheney runs everything, and then effs it up, make it. Otherwise STFU.

Everyone knows the signings are just for show. Are you seriously contending that Cheney isn't in the thick of things (particularly considering his ETF stuff, his OSP, the Libby testimony and evidence, etc.)?

3. One hunting accident establishes a "penchant" for shooting people? that's not rhetoric, that's a frickin' smear.

Nah. Cheney's remarkably "quick on the draw". See, e.g., Iraq....

Cheers,
 

"jelink":

4. No criminality in the Clinton administration? Then why did Clinton lose his license to practice law in Arkansas and before the Supreme Court, and why did he plea bargain AND pay fines?

The Arkansas suspension has expired. But what has that to do with "criminality"? IIRC, they were citing MRCP Rule 8.4(c), and to tell the truth, Clinton oculd have fought it (although not much point after all the Democrats on the Arkansas bar committe had recuded themselves, leaving a pack of slavering Republicans).

And what was the "plea bargain"? What did Clinton plead to? Be specific, now.

And you are aware, I'm sure, that courts can assess fines without criminal charges, right? In fact, if it's a criminal charge, the Constitution requires a jury decide the verdict if the defendant asks for such.

Contrast, BTW, with the fine record of the Republican maladministration and Congress since 2001, detailed in my link above.

Cheers,
 

Q: Isn't the electorate entitled to they guy they voted for twice?

A: If they had actually voted for him, I would agree with you. I don't think they did.

You don't think they did? In other words, you don't know, have no means of knowing, and quite frankly, have no intention of finding out (if you even could).

You just want to screw with the election/succession practices of a Republic that's been around for far longer than you've been alive just because ... why, again exactly? Reasons, please - not vitriol.

And please no protestations about how this is a "universal" idea for all parties. You don't get that out; you predicated this entire crackpot idea with the fact that Cheney is the VP.

You don't like what the people decided, so you want to set your judgement over theirs.

How typically Progressive.
 

The folks defending Clinton as completely innocent should notice that that right there is the greatest refutation of the original post: the fact that it will inevitably be twisted to partisan ends against the law and against the choices of the electorate.
 

You don't think they did? In other words, you don't know, have no means of knowing, and quite frankly, have no intention of finding out (if you even could).

I don't understand this argument. I can't prove a negative (i.e., that people did NOT give the identity of the VP much weight in the Presidential election). If someone thinks they did give weight to that factor, it would be their obligation to provide evidence.

You just want to screw with the election/succession practices of a Republic that's been around for far longer than you've been alive just because ... why, again exactly? Reasons, please - not vitriol.

I gave reasons in two separate posts.

And please no protestations about how this is a "universal" idea for all parties. You don't get that out; you predicated this entire crackpot idea with the fact that Cheney is the VP.

I think you have confused me with Prof. Levinson (to my advantage, I suppose). As his latest comment makes clear, and as the practicalities indicate anyway, the issue canNOT be decided on the basis of Cheney alone because there's no way it will affect him.

I expect a Dem will win in 2008. Therefore, the first potential application of any new policy would affect that administration first. Since I'm a Dem also, that seems a pretty good indicator of bona fides even if you think I'm drinking too much of Prof. Levinson's kool-aid in this case.
 

I don't understand this argument. I can't prove a negative (i.e., that people did NOT give the identity of the VP much weight in the Presidential election). If someone thinks they did give weight to that factor, it would be their obligation to provide evidence.

Now I'm not understanding you. In the face of the fact that the people vote for both the President and the Vice President, you claim you don't think that they mean to do exactly that. Then you ask for proof that they did? You further compound the arrogance of your position by writing Unfortunately, the electorate seems to give this factor essentially zero weight. Again with the "seems" and the "thinks"! Once again, and in clear language; neither you nor anyone else has any idea what the electorate has in mind when it casts its collective ballot.

I think you have confused me with Prof. Levinson (to my advantage, I suppose).

Actually, no, and it wouldn't be a compliment if I had. My remark should have been written "...the entire idea was predicated..." rather than "...you predicated this...". In my haste to join this illuminating discussion about scrapping our Constitution, I typed too quickly. My apologies.

However, another point you made needs rebutting (among many others, but time is finite and it's a beautiful day outside), you state that Three times in the past 35 years we've had vice-presidents who were incompetent to take over (Agnew, Quayle, and Cheney). Leaving aside the obvious Liberal bias of your opinion (because who else's opinion would you bother advocating, right?) and the truth or falsehood in that statement, I submit to you that the only test for "competence" is the approval of the electorate. Neither you, nor any University faculty review board nor the subscription base of Editor and Publisher is qualified to judge the "competence" of anyone elected to high office. Only the electorate can do that. Only the electorate should do that; Republican or Democrat.
 

In the face of the fact that the people vote for both the President and the Vice President, you claim you don't think that they mean to do exactly that.

Well, of course they don't actually vote for the VP directly. They vote for the President. I don't think my position is even controversial. Again, though, the burden of proof is on those who claim that there's an actual "choice" of VP.

it wouldn't be a compliment if I had.

I took it as one, thus saving both of us the embarrassment.

Leaving aside the obvious Liberal bias of your opinion (because who else's opinion would you bother advocating, right?)

I don't think I can advocate anyone's opinion but my own.

As for the bias, maybe so. There have been other incompetent VPs in the past, both D and R. One party hardly has a monopoly in that competition. And as I pointed out, the bias issue seems mitigated by the fact that the first application would likely involve a D.

I submit to you that the only test for "competence" is the approval of the electorate.

I agree. That's why I suggested a vote directly for VP in one of my posts above.
 

It probably makes no difference to some of my critics, but I'd not that I am in effect accepting the "1% solution" that has been attributed to Chency: I.e., even if the risk of some catastrophe is only 1%, it is a good idea to act against it. So I'm assuming that some future vice president (since I hope that everyone realizes that, for better or worse, only in my fantasy life is there a way of dismissing Cheney from the vice presidency) is widely viewed as presenting considerably more than a 1% risk of significant harm to the country should (s)he become president. There should be a way of preventing such a risk. I wonder if my angry critics would have opposed the 25th Amendment, which provides for displacing a medically incapacitated president, on the grounds that we never had such an amendment before and that the Cabinet would seize authority to fire a president it didn't like. So if in fact you think the 25th Amendment is a good idea, because it responded to a real risk (e.g, that JFK would merely have been seriously incapactiated instead of killed, see, e.g., Woodrow Wilson, whose continued habitation of the White House following his stroke was a national disaster), please explain why we should settle for the blind faith that we'll never be faced with a vice president who will have exposed him/herself as someone we wouldn't trust with the Oval Office, even if the selection seemed to make sense at the time of election.
 

It probably makes no difference to some of my critics, but I'd not that I am in effect accepting the "1% solution" that has been attributed to Chency: I.e., even if the risk of some catastrophe is only 1%, it is a good idea to act against it. So I'm assuming that some future vice president (since I hope that everyone realizes that, for better or worse, only in my fantasy life is there a way of dismissing Cheney from the vice presidency) is widely viewed as presenting considerably more than a 1% risk of significant harm to the country should (s)he become president. There should be a way of preventing such a risk. I wonder if my angry critics would have opposed the 25th Amendment, which provides for displacing a medically incapacitated president, on the grounds that we never had such an amendment before and that the Cabinet would seize authority to fire a president it didn't like. So if in fact you think the 25th Amendment is a good idea, because it responded to a real risk (e.g, that JFK would merely have been seriously incapactiated instead of killed, see, e.g., Woodrow Wilson, whose continued habitation of the White House following his stroke was a national disaster), please explain why we should settle for the blind faith that we'll never be faced with a vice president who will have exposed him/herself as someone we wouldn't trust with the Oval Office, even if the selection seemed to make sense at the time of election.
 

"I wonder if my angry critics would have opposed the 25th Amendment, which provides for displacing a medically incapacitated president, on the grounds that we never had such an amendment before and that the Cabinet would seize authority to fire a president it didn't like."

All along this somewhat exasperated critic has suggested that you not make this about Bush and Cheney if you want your reform passed. And yet for somebody who doesn't think this is about Bush and Cheney, you sure keep bringing them back into it.

Sure, I think that it would be great if a VP who was widely regarded as incompetent to be President could somehow be removed. Provided that there was a supermajority requirement to prevent it from becoming just another way for one branch to jerk the other's chain during periods of divided government.

Mind you, Cheney is not such a VP. And you're talking with too small a circle of people if you think otherwise.

I think that it's pretty clear that a legislature controlled by the opposite party from the President has somewhat different motivations than the President's own cabinet, so the analogy fails on it's face.
 

I strongly recommend taking a look at the polls collected at http://www.pollingreport.com/C.htm, with regard to Dick Cheney. The most recent poll is by the Harris Poll, which asked, "How would you rate the job Vice President Dick Cheney is doing: excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?"

29% thought he was doing a good/excellent job, 67% only fair/poor. This is congruent with polls conducted by CNN, 56% disapprove as of Dec. 15-17, 2006;
Newsweek, 56% disapprove as of November 9-10, 2006; and even Fox, Feb. 28-March 1, 2006, 53% disapprove.

I may be more vitriolic than many Americans in my view of Dick Cheney, but the key fact is that by all measures a majority of the American public thinks sufficiently little of Dick Cheney that it defies imagination that they would be pleased with his ascension to the White House. I gather that Brett is with the 29% that thinks he's doing a good/excellent job. He obviously has a right to his own opinion, but he shouldn't confuse it with the general view of the American public.
 

The American people had the opportunity to remove Dick Cheney as VP in 2004.

They didn't.

Why are you not equally concerned about, say, Supreme Court justices? They go dotty in office fairly regularly. What do you propose to do about senators and congressmen who keep getting reelected because of sentiment and inertia in their states or districts, even though they've gone senile? Strom Thurmond was third in line after Gingrich to the presidency during the Clinton impeachment; given that everyone above him faced scandal during that time, that was at least as great a risk as Cheney's presence in the line of succession today. And why stop at the presidency? It's obvious that Massachusetts has proven itself irresponsible in constantly reelecting to the Senate a severe alcoholic who is widely suspected of, at least, negligent homicide, mainly because of his family name. Isn't time we intervened there?

The fact is, once you decide you need special powers to go removing VPs who don't suit you, there's no reason to stop there. People with the right viewpoint should have the right to overturn every election and decide who the voters get to choose from-- hey, they do it in Iran, why not here? That's why I don't want that power and I especially don't want YOU to have that power, thank you very much.
 

Perhaps the solution is to have multiple VPs ( at least 2) and let the Congress decide between them if the President dies or is removed.

Seriously, the proposal here is flawed in so many ways it is hard to see where to start rebutting it.

First, the proposal is based on a situation where the VP is corrupt or incompetent, but that corruption or incompetence does not extend to the president. For example, in the Cheney scenario, do you believe that Cheney did all of these things w/o the knowledge or approval of Bush? If you stipulate that what Cheney did was criminal, and Bush knew and/or approved of it, then a vote of no confidence would only make sense if you were removing both of them.

Second, the proposal only works for a first term VP, or a VP whose criminality/incompetence only became apparent in the second term. Otherwise, the intervening election would ratify the choice. Frankly, a recall option would make more sense (not that that is a good idea), since at least the same body politic would be exercising the choice as the one that elected the VP.

Third, the argument that no one really votes for VP is not only inaccurate, but irrelevant. Inaccurate, because many people take into consideration the VP when deciding for whom to vote, even if not a majority. Certainly enough to make the difference in a close election (and it's been a while since we had one that wasn't close). Irrelevant, because they *could* have based their vote on the VP and ultimately it's up to you to decide what is important in casting your vote. Also because many people vote for president on rather specious grounds as well (I liked him more than the next guy . . . etc.)

Fourth, what Christopher said. You would be allowing Congress to nullify the decision of the general populace and you would effectively make the VP a parlimentary figure. Actually, it doesn't matter whether the minority party controls Congress. Imagine a scenario where the GOP controls Congress, the VP was a moderate (say, Susan Collins) and Bush slips into a coma. The hardliners decide that they would rather have President Hastert than President Collins, and remove her for no other reason than her brand of centrism did not appeal to them. The Dems might just go along on the theory that it would be easier to run against President Hastert in the next election.

Fifth, the VP has no real duties beyond what the president tells (or permits) him to do. Breaking ties is his only statutory duty. Your plan is really an incentive for VPs to do nothing beyond the minimum required, lest they rile up Congress and risk being removed. Is that a good idea?

Sixth, I'm sure it would make it even harder to recruit quality VP candidates, which, come to think of it, would make your plan a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the boobs you did recruit could then be removed!

This is just a bad idea. If you want a vote of no confidence, it only makes sense to apply it to the President, and it would follow that you wouldn't need a VP, since the President would be a parlimentary figure who would just serve at Congress' pleasure anyway.
 

Sandy, I have on occasion described the Bush administration as "The lesser of two evils, and not nearly so lesser as I'd been led to expect." Do not confuse my critique of the way you are arguing for this proposal with approval of this administration. A pity he was running first against Gore, then Kerry, rather than anybody I could seriously contemplate voting for.

Yes, a supermajority of the public agree that this administration isn't particularly good. YOU think they're the administration from Hell. The polls don't suggest that this is a widely held view.

Particularly when you consider that a lot of the dissatisfaction with the Bush administration among Republicans (Dissatisfaction among Democrats is pretty much a given.) has to do with his not being sufficently unlike a Democrat... Which scarcely motivates one to hand over to a Democratic Congress the power to remove him or Cheney.

You're going to need Republican support to get your reform, so at least try to make it look like your dislike of a Republican administration wasn't what pushed you to make the proposal. That's what I've been saying.
 

You are a symptom of everything that is wrong with academia these days--i.e., you are a deranged lunatic who tries to pass off puerile bilious hateful rants as insightful commentary. Oh and by the way, it was Jim "Fixx," not "Foxx."
 

The American people had the opportunity to remove Dick Cheney as VP in 2004.

Otherwise, the intervening election would ratify the choice.

Those opposing Prof. Levinson's proposal continue to make this argument without providing any evidence that it's true. Does anyone know of data to suggest how many people actually change their vote for President based on the identity of the VP?

Why are you not equally concerned about, say, Supreme Court justices?

I'm not aware of the rule that says someone must solve every problem before solving any problem.

Assuming there is such a rule, Prof. Levinson is so concerned. Read his book.

What do you propose to do about senators and congressmen who keep getting reelected because of sentiment and inertia in their states or districts, even though they've gone senile?

This overlooks several points:

1. Such a system already exists. Under Art. I, Sec. 5, "Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members...". Congress could, if it chose, expel a member and force a new election.

2. There's no equivalence between a member of Congress, who is directly elected, and the VP, who is, at best, indirectly elected. There would be differenct considerations if the VP were directly elected IMO (not necessarily in Prof. Levinson's).

3. Individual members of Congress are far less important to the country than the President or VP.

Strom Thurmond was third in line after Gingrich to the presidency during the Clinton impeachment; given that everyone above him faced scandal during that time, that was at least as great a risk as Cheney's presence in the line of succession today.

Prof. Levinson does oppose this. Read his book.

People with the right viewpoint should have the right to overturn every election and decide who the voters get to choose from-- hey, they do it in Iran, why not here? That's why I don't want that power and I especially don't want YOU to have that power, thank you very much.

This is just ranting. The proposal puts Congress in charge, not anyone else. The system is nothing like Iran, but it does bear some resemblance to parliamentary democracy as in England.

Your plan is really an incentive for VPs to do nothing beyond the minimum required, lest they rile up Congress and risk being removed. Is that a good idea?

The plan probably would force the VP to serve less as the Administration's attack dog and moderate his/her views. I'm not sure that's a bad thing at all.

I'm sure it would make it even harder to recruit quality VP candidates

I don't get the reasoning here. In my view, the potential for this procedure would improve the quality of VP candidates the same way other qualification processes do -- it forces consideration of a wider range of qualifications. A VP who was in the unfortunate position of succeeding to the Presidency would find his/her task simplified because Congressional failure to act would be seen as implicit approval. Imagine the contrast between that situation and the current one, given the high level of dissatisfaction with Cheney.
 

The OVP is not subject to the rules of the EB or the LB. So the OVP cannot be impeached. Or so the argument will go.
 

"Those opposing Prof. Levinson's proposal continue to make this argument without providing any evidence that it's true. Does anyone know of data to suggest how many people actually change their vote for President based on the identity of the VP? "

You assume it's all or nothing. The VP choice is PART of how we judge a president. We may weigh it more or less as we choose for many reasons. Picking Gore helped Clinton, picking Bentsen made Dukakis look smaller. But you, and the mad-cow-stricken Prof. Levinson, have shown no evidence that the problem of unfit VPs is anywhere near as significant or pressing as any dozen others, except that he will use any stick to bash a VP he loathes. But it has NOTHING to do with Cheney, he says so!

The fact is, you never know about VPs. Surely one of the least fit for office in modern times was Harry Truman, until he got there.

"This is just ranting. The proposal puts Congress in charge, not anyone else. The system is nothing like Iran, but it does bear some resemblance to parliamentary democracy as in England."

A system which was known to the Founders-- and they chose a different one. Deal with it!
 

Sandy, y'all need to get back on your meds.

Really.
 

You assume it's all or nothing. The VP choice is PART of how we judge a president. We may weigh it more or less as we choose for many reasons.

Logically, sure. The question I'm asking is if anyone has evidence regarding this.

no evidence that the problem of unfit VPs is anywhere near as significant or pressing as any dozen others

As I said above, I see no reason why one problem can't be solved before others. In any case, Prof. Levinson has done here what academics do: identify a problem for discussion.

Is it a problem? I think so. As I said above, we've had 3 incompetent VPs in the last 35 years. That's not a good record given the importance of the US President.

Is Prof. Levinson's suggestion the best or only solution? Possibly not, but it's at least worth some discussion. The fact that other issues may also be worthy of discussion seems irrelevant to me.

The fact is, you never know about VPs.

Of course not, but the same point could be made about any office requiring Congressional approval, from SCOTUS and Cabinet officers on down. Nobody objects when Congress makes those judgments in advance, so it's not clear to me why there's so much resistance to it making a similar judgment about the VP after having the opportunity to assess his/her performance and ability.

Surely one of the least fit for office in modern times was Harry Truman, until he got there.

I'm not sure this is true (Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, and Henry Wallace spring to mind), but even if it were, I'm not sure it helps much. The fact that we were lucky once is not a very good argument for rolling the dice a second time.

In addition, Prof. Levinson's proposal would only operate after Congress had an opportunity to see the VP in the job for a while. That means every VP would actually be judged on performance, not qualifications.

A system which was known to the Founders-- and they chose a different one. Deal with it!

This raises an interesting issue about how the Founders expected the process of impeachment to work. Given contemporary English practice, they probably expected it to work somewhere between our current understanding and Prof. Levinson's proposal.

In any case, I don't understand that an appeal to the Founders is, standing alone, much of an argument. They surely did a lot right -- I've defended them here on a regular basis -- but they did make mistakes (slavery?). They even knew their system was less than perfect; that's why there's an Art. V. Assuming the requisite majority could be obtained to pass an amendment, the fact that the Founders thought differently wouldn't be very persuasive.
 

"As I said above, we've had 3 incompetent VPs in the last 35 years."

And how many incompetent presidents?

"Nobody objects when Congress makes those judgments in advance, so it's not clear to me why there's so much resistance to it making a similar judgment about the VP after having the opportunity to assess his/her performance and ability."

After 50-some comments, it's not clear? Because it's a fundamental shift in which branch of government has the upper hand, which is wide open to exploitation for partisan reasons. Even if you've successfully made an argument that the VP issue is serious, this is clearly a MUCH worse solution than, say, having a second set of primaries for the VP slot, which would ensure that the VP would come from the same party. Or limiting the term of a VP who succeeds a president to one year, and holding the next election within a year. Or any number of other solutions which do not create an all-but-irresistible incentive for Congress to go picking off the VP whenever it has the chance.
 

And how many incompetent presidents?

The President raises different policy issues, as I said above. I would oppose a similar removal amendment in that case (and have done so when Prof. Levinson proposed it).

Because it's a fundamental shift in which branch of government has the upper hand

I guess I don't see the VP as so integral to the functioning of the Executive Branch that this is really an issue.

this is clearly a MUCH worse solution than, say, having a second set of primaries for the VP slot, which would ensure that the VP would come from the same party.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean here, but as my posts above indicate, I'm open to the idea of direct election of the VP.
 

I appreciate both the tone and the content of Brett's most recent posting. He is surely correct that any change of the kind I am proposing will need significant bi-partisan support. Though there is little doubt that much of the impetus for any such a proposal (re the VP) would come from people with qualms about Cheney, it is equally obvious that it would be dumb to so harp on Cheney as to remove the possibility of gaining Republican support.

Perhaps we might ask exactly why we think we need a VP? The only reason is to provide a designated successor. And that has come in handy eight times in American history (Tyler, Johnson, Fillmore, Arthur, Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, and Johnson). Truly a mixed crop, though one can well argue that the last four were considerably more comopetent than the first four. E.g., it is unfathomable that anyone could have seriously considered John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, or Chester A. Arthur "presidential material," whereas the last four (including Coolidge, I emphasize) might pass that test.

And, incidentally, in my book I strongly criticize life tenure for Supreme Court justices, for what that's worth. Once one starts looking closely, one finds all sorts of deficiencies in our Constitution (which can be operationally defined as aspects of our Constitution that a) one would not advise other countries to adopt and b) emprically, that very few other countries have in fact adopted).
 

Brett says:

Yes, a supermajority of the public agree that this administration isn't particularly good. YOU think they're the administration from Hell. The polls don't suggest that this is a widely held view.

I'd suggest a closer look at the polls. When 50% are in favour of impeachment if he lied about Iraq (you know, like "And we gave [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let the [inspectors] in."), you're in rather dubious territory.

Particularly when you consider that a lot of the dissatisfaction with the Bush administration among Republicans (Dissatisfaction among Democrats is pretty much a given.) has to do with his not being sufficently unlike a Democrat...

"No true Scotsman..." Glenn Greenwald has covered this interesting phenomenon here and elsewhere.
 

Professor,

Thank God I didn't go to your law school. If that is what you are teaching your students, then I feel sorry for them.
 

"closer look at the polls. When 50% are in favour of impeachment if he lied about Iraq"

"IF" Now, prove to them that he did.

If you'll just look back at what I've been saying, Arne, you'll see that I haven't dismissed the posiblity that a consensus in favor of removing Cheney and Bush could be created. I've been saying that it doesn't yet exist.

I, for one, would be delighted if the Democratic majority set out to try to create that consensus. Not only would it distract them from doing a lot of substantiative things I'd dislike, they might actually be able to make a case.
 

Great googly moogly....

Can we also put in a provision to remove a similarly psychotic Speaker of the House and a mentally breaking down Senate President Pro Tempore from the line of succession too if we so desire?
 

I suspect that Caps Nut thinks (s)he is asking a reductio ad absurdum sort of question. But, yes, it is a sheer disgrace that the Senate continues to follow a rule of strict seniority that, most notably, put a senile Strom Thurmond third in line for the presidency. And, for what it is worth, I'm confident that the House would in fact vote out a Speaker who was, for example, found to be a child molester or had a psychotic break. Does Caps Nut think we should simply accept, with no further discussion, the possibility of a psychotic Speaker with no possible remedy, short of the next election?
 

Brett said:

[Arne]: "...closer look at the polls. When 50% are in favour of impeachment if he lied about Iraq"

"IF" Now, prove to them that he did.


There was this little blue clicky there, Brett, along with the relevant sentence in blue to make it easy for you to find it in Dubya's little pile of horsedroppings. Dubya's either a liar or he's floridly psychotic, denying what anyone with two eyes (or even just one good one, like me) saw: That the weapons inspectors were in Iraq (much to the dismay of Cheney et.al), and finding nothing (which is what Duelfer found later as well). FWIW, Dubya's repeated this canard another two times since. Sorry, but in my book, that's A LIE! Dunno what you think it is.....

And that's just for starters. Pay attention to the Libby trial ferinstance, and we'll have more Congressional hearings as well.

Cheers,
 

"Now tell them"; What part of "them" don't you understand? You don't need to convince ME of the need for impeachment hearings, I've already expressed support for them, though I'd like a few charges Democrats probably wouldn't consider worth bothering with.

Are you under the impression that the bare existance of facts, without the grunt work to distribute them, creates a consensus? I'm suggesting that grunt work has yet to be done, and you shouldn't mistake a consensus among Democratic activists for a public consensus.
 

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