Bruce Fein, who was Reagan's Associate Deputy Attorney General, has penned a scathing editorial -- calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, stating:
"Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III."In his Slate piece, Impeach Vice President Cheney, Fein notes:
Under Dick Cheney, the office of the vice president has been transformed from a tiny acorn into an unprecedented giant oak. In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president's insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.He reminds us of the OVP and its place in history pre-Cheney:
The nation's first vice president, John Adams, bemoaned: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet common fate." Vice President John Nance Garner, serving under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, lamented: "The vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." In modern times, vice presidents have generally been confined to attending state funerals or to distributing blankets after earthquakes.And he compares it with the current occupant:
Then President George W. Bush outsourced the lion's share of his presidency to Vice President Cheney, and Mr. Cheney has made the most of it. Since 9/11, he has proclaimed that all checks and balances and individual liberties are subservient to the president's commander in chief powers in confronting international terrorism.
Fein then proceeds to review the lamentable record of abuses and excesses, which range from creation of military commissions, to kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture, from signing statements to warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens, from the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to the evisceration of freedom of speech and of the press. A stinging indictment of the Lawless Administration, to be sure -- from a member of the Republican Party, no less.
A must read precis. Fein finally describes the impact upon our system of government:
The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties.
In contrast, Article II enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the president, including the obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. A special presidential oath is prescribed. Section 3 of the 25th Amendment provides a method for the president to yield his office to the vice president, when "he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." There is no other constitutional provision for transferring presidential powers to the vice president.
Yet without making a written transmittal to Congress, President Bush has ceded vast domains of his powers to Vice President Cheney by mutual understanding that circumvents the 25th Amendment. This constitutional provision assures that the public and Congress know who is exercising the powers of the presidency and who should be held responsible for successes or failures. The Bush-Cheney dispensation blurs political accountability by continually hiding the real decision-maker under presidential skirts. . . .
In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.
What are we waiting for? See A Long Shot is Still a Shot.
And don't miss the final piece, Leaving No Tracks, in the 4-part Washington Post series on Cheney. See also, The Dastardly Despot, for my earlier post on the series. And see also, Eugene Robinson's op-ed, 'Angler' For Power.