There was an interesting juxtaposition of the current vice president and the veep-elect on the talking-head shows Sunday. Chris Wallace interviewed Dick Cheney for Fox and George Stephanopoulis did the honors with Joe Biden for ABC. Interesting. One couldn’t watch both but could catch parts of each.
Chris and Dick discussed the fact that, according to the transition team, Biden somewhere along the way had decided to "shrink" the power of the vice presidency...or at least the executive. Joe and George discussed the "unitary president" thing, Biden thinking the executive branch has arrogated too much power to itself in the current administration, having accused Cheney a while back of perhaps being the most dangerous vice president in all of history. Maybe he forgot Aaron Burr, who, while he was vice president in the Jefferson administration, got so mad he killed Alexander Hamilton. Cheney only used bird-shot and didn't even try for the ultimate.
The most revealing thing in the Biden interview had to do with the fact that Pastor Rick Warren is slated to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inaugural next month. It was lost on both men that the prayer will be...well, a prayer...like a supplication to God, something that a believer in God would understand almost instinctively. Instead, Biden and Stephanopoulis considered the prayer a political matter only, so the effort was made to determine how the prayer helps or hurts the elected men politically, most likely with a view already toward the next election in 2012.
Of course, the matter of "healing" took center stage, apparently some sort of healing of the American public that the prayer is supposed to miraculously effect, sort of like God thundering from the heavens to the crowd at/on the inaugural stand like He did in the episode of Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai in the giving of the Ten Commandments. It's quite probable that most of the citizens don't know they're sick, either individually or collectively or even politically, but they are reminded by the politicians in every election cycle that the great unwashed is in need of healing. The talkers like S and B probably mean a healing that sutures the political parties together without even a scar...and warm-fuzzies all around the operating room. What a laugh! The gashes are what make the difference.
Some of the offended ones in need of healing were especially mentioned – the homosexual/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgender crowd that is screaming mean things because Warren says that marriage can only be a man-woman thing, never mind that Obama publicly said the same thing when he appeared earlier this year in an interview with Warren. Warren campaigned in California – where he lives and has that privilege – to see that the law (Prop 8) codified this position.
Obama, needing the liberal vote, very publicly did the opposite concerning the proposition even though he didn't live in California, making himself either a disgusting hypocrite or simply an opportunist or too stupid to see the disparity or all three. Already on the record as insisting that each state should settle this matter for itself, he could've stayed out of it, but Hillary beat him in California by more than a half-million votes anyway. Does anyone know what Obama actually believes? Only the Shadow knows, presumably.
So, naturally old George asked Joe in behalf of ABC and the screamers for a timeline on when the new prexy would rid the military of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, never mind that Bill Clinton had tried that "military order" thing back in '93 as almost his first presidential action, so necessary to the armed forces are homosexuals. He got the current policy instead of what he wanted, the result being more damaging to the HLBT constituency. Biden was smart enough to explain that Obama has more pressing problems, another way of saying that he will not fight his generals and admirals over that. Sexual perversion is unacceptable in the military, whether in the bathroom, a foxhole or on a ship.
Cheney cited to Wallace as important the fact that the country hasn't been terrorized since 9/11 and mentioned that date as the "highest moment" of the administration. He defended the surveillance programs that Biden criticized at ABC but made his best points when he described his meetings with Congressional leaders, who were acquiescent in the administration's approach and even advised against going to Congress for some specific legislation concerning intelligence-gathering since that would compromise a program that worked. As ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Biden had to know all this. Cheney also defended the interrogation program and insisted that every method used was lawful.
Cheney also mentioned some precedents the administration had for its quick decisions such as concerning the saboteurs tried by a military commission and executed during FDR's conduct of WWII, with the Supreme Court giving a ruling of approval of those commissions. He might have mentioned FDR's and Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, but he was too nice for that. He did mention that Biden, a law professor, had mistakenly claimed that the executive's power was outlined in Article One of the Constitution. It isn't, of course.
It's not hard to imagine the new veep's role shrinking vis-a-vis its extent in this administration. Obama likely will see to that without any help from Biden, who, nevertheless, characterized the new boss as "clean" and "articulate" during the primary dogfight. This is what he said last February: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Was he discriminating against all other African Americans like Condoleezza Rice, maybe? Egad!