Another one to go in the "Joe Biden Gaffe Hall of Fame." From last night's debate via John Hinderaker and Powerline:
First of all, as John points out, Article I establishes the legislative branch. It is Article II that creates the executive branch of government, a fact that Hinderaker's 16 year old daughter pointed out.
This isn't what's conventionally described as a gaffe, and it won't swing any votes, but last night Joe Biden garbled the Constitutional role of the Vice President. I wanted to read the transcript before commenting; here was Gwen Ifill's question:
Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?
Here is Biden's answer, in full:
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.
Secondly, while Cheney's contention that the VP is part of the legislative branch is indeed problematic, for Biden to say the Vice President is only a creature of the executive is just plain wrong as Hinderaker points out. He has a defined role in the legislative branch - and its not as Biden describes it:
The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has no clue of the recent history of Lebanon and one of the highest ranking Democrats on the Judiciary Committee (and former Chairman) is a little fuzzy on the details of the Constitution.
Finally, Biden misstated the Vice President's role in the Senate. It isn't true that he "preside[s] over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote." The Constitution contemplates that the Vice President will be the full-time President of the Senate, replaced by a President pro tempore "in the absence of the Vice President." It's true that the Vice President only gets to vote in case of a tie; but, of course, that's the only time it matters.
But don't anyone tell you he isn't qualified to be Vice President!