Opinion: Biden and Palin on the vice presidency
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In all the cross-charges of last night’s debate, one particularly pointed exchange occurred over the power of the office that Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are seeking. It featured some clumsy analysis by both candidates.
Asked whether the vice presidency is properly considered part of the executive or legislative branch, Palin dodged the question by saying the framers ‘were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president.’ She then proceeded to tout her executive experience as a governor, mayor, business owner and, weirdly, ‘oil and gas regulator,’ suggesting without quite saying that she viewed the position as within the executive branch (a view that the current vice president has occasionally questioned).
Responding, Biden was more responsive and better on the concept but gaffed the details. He squarely endorsed the notion that the vice president is part of the executive branch and correctly noted that the job is spelled out in the Constitution, but incorrectly asserted that the job is defined in Article 1. Although Article 1 mentions the vice president, it does so only to note that the vice president breaks ties in the Senate. It’s in Article 2, Section 1 that the Constitution makes it clear to most scholars that the vice president is part of the executive branch. That section begins: ‘The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows...’