For those of you too young to remember, Richard Nixon has been the only president in the history of the United States to resign from that office. This action was precipitated by the revelations (known to many Americans by then) that Nixon had participated in the Watergate scandal and cover-up.
Even before he resigned, people had already coined the phrase, “Tricky Dick”, especially after the discovery of an 18-minute gap in a crucial White House tape recording at the time. And who can forget Nixon going on TV and self-righteously proclaiming to the American people that “I am not a crook!”, not long before he was forced to resign under impeachment.
Since the resignation in August 1974, no other member of the Executive branch of the U.S. Government has been named Dick, until now. And maybe not even now, if the new “Tricky Dick” has his way.
Everyone by now has heard that vice-president Dick Cheney has issued proclamations that he and his office are not part of the Executive branch of the U.S. Government, all evidence in the US Constitution to the contrary. Specifically, Article II, which defines the Executive Branch of the US Government states in section 1:
Article II, Section 1. 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:”
Now, I don’t intend to ignore the rest of the Constitution (as others in the Bush administration seem to do at will). Article I of the Constitution defines the Legislative branch of the US Government, and yes, Virgina, you guessed it: Article III defines the Judicial Branch.
But for now, let’s stick with Article I (Legislative). About halfway through section 3, there is a single-sentence paragraph, which states::
“The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”
Anyone familiar with any parliamentary procedure such as Robert’s Rules, for instance, knows that the”president” or chairman of the parliamentary meeting is simply a moderator. And most of the time, the VP is absent anyway, showing up only to cast a tie-breaking vote on issues important to the executive branch. I certainly wouldn’t call this function legislative in nature, but merely ceremonial and occasionally tie-breaking.
No so for “Tricky Dick” Cheney, though. Little things such as historical precedent and the US Constitution are but minor inconveniences to be brushed aside. When it was discovered that Tricky Dick was ignoring a Bush Executive Order regarding the handling of classified information, he self-righteously proclaimed, “The office of the Vice-president is not an Executive Branch entity!!”
I can just imagine Tricky Dick’s lawyers huddled late into the night at the (Executive branch) White House (where Tricky has an office), disassembling and reassembling out-of-context pieces of the Constitution to create the whimsical argument that the vice-president is not really the second-in-command of the Executive Branch, but is really a Legislator. After all, that’s what lawyers do to win cases. But of course, in this case, these lawyers are being paid with YOUR taxpayer dollars. Think about that.
Now, only the most fanatical neocons bought this fabricated argument (along with their weekly dose of Tricky Dick’s Snake Oil). But when Congress threatened to cut of the vice-president’s office funding, the White House (where Tricky Dick has his office), backed it down, claiming that the “rationale has been the view of the vice-president’s lawyers, not Cheney himself”.
I guess the White House had no choice, because in 2001 they claimed that probing into Cheney’s energy task force meetings “would constitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch”.
Okay. End of issue, right?Â Nope. Try again.
Tricky Dick isn’t Tricky Dick for nothing, y’know. In a recent interview with Mark Knoller of CBS News, Tricky Dick again refused to admit he was a member of the Executive branch of the U.S. Government. When pressed by Knoller about being primarily a member of the Executive branch, Tricky Dick replied, “I suppose you could argue it either way. The fact is that I do work in both branches.” The interview can be heard here.
Tricky Dick also said that the vice-president is a “unique creature”.
I looked in the Constitution. I read every single word. I could not find “unique creature” anywhere.
It must be written in the Constitution in that ultra-secret, normally invisible “decoder ring” ink that also gives the executive branch unlimited power to violate federal law, torture prisoners, suspend habeas corpus indefinitely, spy on private U.S. citizens (and now confiscate private property and assets) without a warrant, and declare legitimate protesters as “unpatriotic” and “traitors”, simply because they disagree with the executive branch’s policies.