PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts


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  1. Your argument is solid. One other thing that is really troubling about Cheney’s stance is that–as you have mentioned–he started using this BS legislative branch argument in order to get out of having to comply with procedures that PROTECT NATIONAL SECURITY.

    Given the fact that one of his former aides is currently in prison for spying, this is especially scary.

    Cheney’s stance and his office’s links to an international espionage ring raises suspicions.

    Comment by Ratoe — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 9:56 am

  2. If we accept executive orders as part of our democracy we must also accept the idea that Cheney can claim immunity from such an order if the President agrees (which he has). That is far from violating the rule of law.

    Executive orders and administrative rules bypass our democratic process to a certain degree. Both are overused. That said, if we grant that power (executive orders) to a single person we must also expect that person to have the power of when and where to enforce it.

    Moving beyond the issue of Cheney’s claims of executive priviledge and impacts of executive orders I think his explanation of the office of the VP is correct, it is unique. Besides being in line for the presidency what constitutional duties are assigned to the office on the executive side?

    Comment by Steve Plunk — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  3. Steve,

    It is one thing for the President to alter the applicability of an executive order in regards to the VP, it is another for the VP’s office to assert that it doesn’t have to follow an EO because it isn’t “an entity in the executive branch.”

    The problem in this whole situation is that Cheney did not simply go to the President in the first place, but rather claimed his unique position.

    I know you have a hard time criticizing this administration, but surely you see the distinction?

    And while the veep is unique (indeed, by definition his position is unique, as there is only one of him), that’s not really the issue. Indeed, as I note, I am happy to have a theoretical discussion of the veep’s role, but the real critique here is Cheney’s willingness to pick and choose his position based on what suits him. Surely that is problematic?

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  4. Wow, Steven, I was about to say that the pay always comes from the people by way of Congress and that the President is also a legislator. But you already did that.

    The only thing I will add is that the institution of the Vice Presidency is not something the founders thought very carefully about. It really is a mistake; there is no really good reason to have an executive official (which he is, despite Cheney’s squishiness) break Senate ties, and there are other ways to deal with the occasional vacancy in the presidency.

    Remember that there was one very big mistake in the original constitution that was corrected with one of the earlier amendments: originally the VP was simply the presidential candidate who was the runner-up in electoral votes.

    (Hmmm, on second thought, I have to say that under current conditions, that now seems like one of the better features of the original constitution.)

    Comment by MSS — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  5. More on Steve’s comment, at #2:

    “If we accept executive orders as part of our democracy…”

    Why should we?

    “Executive orders and administrative rules bypass our democratic process to a certain degree.”

    And if we accept this second argument of yours, then we indeed can’t “accept executive orders as part of our democracy”!

    Or is your argument that democracy can bypass democracy–by decree, no less.

    Comment by MSS — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  6. Dr. Taylor,

    It’s not that I have a hard time criticizing this administration it’s that I see a great deal of criticism that, in my opinion, is hollow.

    We have no idea if Cheney talked to the President before claiming the executive order did not apply. I certainly have not seen anything to contradict the notion that the President agrees with the Vice President. I see no problem.


    The question of accepting executive orders as legal has been answered by the courts. Now I don’t like executive orders as they stand today feeling that they are overused and abused. Clinton made the famous quote of “stroke of the pen, law of the land, kind of neat”. The fact that they are easy to enact, can be overrule by later administrations and bypass representative legislators cheapens the legitimacy of such rules.

    I see similar problems in my state with administrative rules written by various bureaucrats without proper oversight by the legislature.

    I don’t understand your point about my second argument. Cheney’s explanation about the office seems correct. It is a hybrid of both the executive and legislative branch. With no explicit executive powers, explicit legislative powers, running as a team for office with the presidential candidate, the vice president’s role and function is not easily explained.

    Democracy can bypass democracy by decree. We have given administrations that power to a degree. It is now a discussion of what degree, more or less. I would argue taking some of that power back while recognizing some must remain with the executive in order to enforce and enact legislated law.

    Comment by Steve Plunk — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  7. Steve,

    In regards to Cheney and the President, the chronology is pretty clear: there was a request made to Cheney about complying with the EO, Cheney’s office responded that they didn’t have to because they weren’t an executive entity, the story became public, eventually the President revised the interpretation of the order to absolve the veep of responsibility.

    As such, it is pretty clear that Cheney did not simply go to the president, instead he first made the silly “not an executive entity” argument and then, when the the issue became one of public debate did the pres get involved.

    Do you see my point?

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  8. Steve P., you had stated that executive orders bypass the democratic process, so that would imply an argument that they are inherently undemocratic (at least when they do more than merely implement clear legislative intent, whatever that might mean).

    Now I am willing to say that democracies can have executive decree power. In fact, I have published a book with Cambridge University Press making precisely such an argument.

    However, under the US constitution, they are democratically dubious to the extent that they go beyond the clear letter of statute and/or attempt shield the executive branch from constitutional accountability.

    And I agree that Clinton abused his executive-order authority in some cases, notably under the Antiquities Act. However, those transgressions are small potatoes compared to the Bush-Cheney years.

    Comment by MSS — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

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