Friday, July 31, 2009

Colin Powell VS Dick Cheney

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers! Well, last night decorated war hero, former Joint Chief of Staff, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Larry King. Powell is arguably the most prominent black Republican in the country and worked with Dick Cheney many times over the years, during Operation Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War, and the War on Terror.

However, that doesn't mean they get along or like each other. Before giving his presentation at the United Nations Security Council justifying the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 where it was later revealed that some of the evidence he presented was incorrect, Vice-President Cheney kidded with him saying:

""You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."

Powell's longtime assistant, Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, later characterized Cheney's view of Powell's job at the U.N. Council was to "go up there and sell it, and we'll have moved forward a peg or two. Fall on your damn sword and kill yourself, and I'll be happy, too." in an interview with Karen DeYoung in 2006.

Powell also endorsed Obama for President instead of McCain in the last election, and former VP Cheney and Rush Limbaugh have both said they don't think Powell is truly part of the Republican Party due to this and Powells other moderate beliefs, such as being for some "reasonable" gun control, being pro-choice, and support of affirmative action. Cheney even went as far to side with Limbaugh in his dispute and criticism of Powell by stating on CBS's "Face the Nation":

"My take on it was Colin had already left the party -- I didn't know he was still a Republican."

So there's obviously bad blood between them and has been for awhile.

So last night on Larry King-who's somehow still on the air and alive-(I suspect he bathes in the blood of infants, but there's lots of theories out there)-The Suspenderd One asked him about Cheney and their differences.

Larry King-Dick Cheney has said that Obama's policies have made Americans less safe. Do you buy that?

Colin Powell-No, I don't think we're less safe. I think the country has done a lot over the last eight years, under President Bush's administration and now under President Obama's administration, to protect our borders, to go after the enemy. We've stabilized the situation in Iraq and turned it over to the Iraqis. The president has gone after the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have a department of Homeland Security. I still get stopped every time I go through an airport.

Larry King-They stop you?

Colin Powell-Yes. Oh, yes. I have to go through security like anyone else. And they -- because I am sometimes frequently seen about town, they make sure that they do an especially thorough job. That's part of our security. What Former Vice President Cheney was talking about, I think, was some of the interrogation techniques and detention and techniques...

Larry King-Yes, what did you make of that?

Colin Powell-And some of the things that our National Security Agency was doing. I don't think any of that has been terminated. I think what the administration -- the current administration is trying to do is to make sure we've thought all of these policies through and they rest on a sound basis of law.

Larry King-Is torture a good idea?

Colin Powell-No.

Also, Ian Allen of reports that officials in the Obama Administration are pressuring Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to not release the transcripts of Vice-President Cheneys interview with prosecutors about the leak of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame on the grounds of national security. It may be another 5 or 10 years before they are released-at least that's the recommendation of the Department of Justice. Critics say that there might be proof in those transcripts that President Bush and the VP knew about the leak and were even the source of the leak. How will Judge Sullivan rule? When we know-you'll know. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Biden Beat Slows Down

Biden news this week is either casual mentions or yet another attempt to use the word "gaffe" in reference to the Veep. He's a loudmouth, for sure, but some of us would like the media to find a new story. Which brings me to someone who seems to be getting a considerable portion of media attention, especially for an ex-politician. Sarah Palin.

Skimming through some online news results, I came across an interesting article from CBS entitled "Nixon's Past, Palin's Future?" Though it isn't the most in-depth of examinations of a topic, it takes an interesting stance - basically, since Nixon trashed the media in his "last press conference," and had enough of a comeback to make him president, Palin has the same chance.

Sure, but that assumes Nixon and Palin are analogous.

I'm no expert on Nixon, but I know plenty about Palin. In fact, veeps-turned-presidents are not a big part of the book/movie, since we historically consider them presidents. No one calls George H.W. Bush "Mister Former Vice-President," now do they? Nixon, though no exception to this rule, is still an easy one to examine, at least in terms of experience.

Nixon was a lawyer. Not a former beauty queen. He served in the military. Palin likes to talk about the military, and how the media "telling lies" is hurting our men and women in the Armed Forces. Nixon served in the Congress, and Senate... Then finally became Veep.

In fact, the only thing I can see that these two ever had in common, besides a contempt for the media, was a poor ability to handle their own image within the media. Which could explain the contempt. Palin's unabashed gee-whizidness was so fake that it could be seen from a mile away. Nixon was the victim of the first televised presidential debates, and wasn't pretty. In fact, Nixon had it worse off than Palin, media-wise. At least she's the Sexy Librarian ex-Governor, not Jowels McFrownyface.

Point is, I wouldn't entirely mind seeing Palin get the presidential nomination in 2012 (everyone else is entertaining the idea, why shouldn't I?), if only because the crash-and-burn will be hilarious. And if she somehow wins, well... We'll all have a front-row seat to Armageddon.

- Jason C. Klamm

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cheney's End of Days and The WORST VP's?

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers! Well, as I posted in my last blog on Monday, there has been a storm of interest over the last week with former VP Dick Cheney what with the renewing of his Secret Service protection for the next 6 months, the revealing of his wanting to send troops into Lackwanna, NY to arrest terrorist subjects, and he and his daughter Liz’s constant criticism of the Obama Administration.

Most of the speculation has been about his and President Bush’s final days in office and their disagreements. It made the cover of TIME Magazine this week with the title-THE FINAL DAYS OF BUSH AND CHENEY. The article called “Legacy Fight: Inside Bush and Cheney’s Final Days” by Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf is an excellent read full of new information that had not been revealed until now. The article heavily focuses on how Cheney wanted Bush to pardon his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby after his conviction in the Valerie Plame scandal and how Bush ultimately decided not to and the wedge this drove between them. You can read more about it in my previous blog.

In my research, I found that TIME had made a list of who they considered “America’s Worst Vice-Presidents”. Here is their list, which they put in chronological order-they didn’t even bother ranking them in Worst to Least Worst order which shows how little they probably cared about this list.

1.Aaron Burr
2.Elbridge Gerry
3.John C. Calhoun
4.Richard M. Johnson
5.William Rufus King
6.John Breckinridge
7.Hannibal Hamlin
8.Thomas A. Hendricks
9.Thomas Marshall
10.Calvin Coolidge
11.Henry Wallace
12.Richard M. Nixon
13.Spiro Agnew
14.Dan Quayle
15.Richard B. Cheney

I would have to say I disagree with this list quite a bit. Two on the list (Gerry and King) are simply on their because they died very early in their terms. Because you have the misfortune to die it makes you a bad vice-president? Perhaps they should be put in a seperate "No Judgement" category. I've always thought that should be true for William Henry Harrison on the list of "Worst Presidents" too, he's usually included on that list, even though he was sick for his entire term and died 31 days into it. How do you judge a month in office? Or in Kings case, six weeks?

I do agree with the choices of Spiro “The Zero” Agnew who famously said: “If you’ve seen one slum, you’ve seen them all.”, and was forced to resign in disgrace, along with the choice of the virulently racist Democrat Thomas A. Hendricks (whose picture and signature graces this edition of the Blog) who voted against the amendments to free the slaves and give them voting rights, along with a couple of others.

I would disagree greatly with the selection of Thomas Marshall, who served two terms with Woodrow Wilson. They seem to think that Marshall was a negative complainer and hated the office. Most historians (and I) think that Marshall was an intelligent and extremely competent man who truly had a good sense of humor about being the Vice-President with a President who didn’t think much of him. He was always ready with a joke and smile, and famously said: “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” After he retired he was quoted as saying “I don’t want to work, but I wouldn’t mind being Vice-President again.”

I know someone who would disagree with their selection of Henry Wallace: Gore Vidal. In our interview for the documentary, when I asked him who he thought was our best Veep he named Wallace. Just because a man gets the Progressive/Socialist nomination for President, was an admirer of Stalin and fooled into thinking a Soviet slave labor camp was a paradise, and spends his life devoted to raising new strands of corn, strawberries, and chickens doesn’t make you a terrible VP, (hmm, maybe I need to rethink it) although Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Hannegan despised Wallace so much he did everything he could to remove him from the ticket in 1944 and replace him with Truman. Later he said:

“When I die, I would like to have one thing on my headstone: that I was the man who kept Henry Wallace from becoming President of the United States.”

Also, it’s pretty obvious that Burr is on the list simply for the fact that he killed Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel while VP, something that this blog and our film and book will shed some light on. Just because Hamilton is on the ten-dollar bill doesn’t mean he was a better man than Burr, in some ways he was, in others he wasn’t. Hamilton did plenty to get himself in that situation and had plenty of vices as well, as we will reveal. While Burr was Vice-President he was called "one of the best presiding officers the Senate has ever seen."

One of our goals with “Vice-Precedence: Being Number Two in the White House” is to shed more light on all our vice-presidents, to educate people about our VP’s, and separate legend from fact-all while entertaining you. Lists like this are fun to argue about, and while I disagree with some of TIME’s choices and some of their opinions on "Why" a VP made their list, I applaud them just making a list in the first place. What do you think? Who makes your list of Best and Worst VP’s? let us know. Stay tuned for the latest on all our VP’s and thanks for reading.
Matt Saxe

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beyond the Palin

So, it's been an eventful week since I've blogged last. Things have been incredibly hectic at Banded Artists, the production company Matt and I work with, so I've been concentrating on our latest TV project pretty much full-time. Okay, unless you count Comic-Con. Nonetheless, it's a project that will make it much easier to find funding and outlets for the Vice-Precedence film, to say nothing of the book.

In the meantime, as Matt has reported, some shit has been going down in Cheney-Town, making one wonder just how safe Dick Cheney really feels. Asking for six more months of Secret Service protection kind of implies fear. Or that he's realistic. Let's face it, there are a lot of whack-jobs who would like him dead. Some of us just want answers.

On the lighter side of VP news, Sarah Palin has moved on from her post as Alaska's only female Governor. I say lighter because, let's face it, we haven't heard the last of her. She says her goals now are to do more work for Alaska. I think we all know what that means. What's the best way to work "for your state" and give yourself some experience while putting you back on the presidential track? If you said Greenpeace, you're wrong. Can anyone say "Senator Palin?" Unfortunately, I can, and it kind of burns.

Biden, meanwhile, has been reported to piss off just about everyone, especially the Russians. My suspicions are that the media wants to think people are pissed off, because that's somehow news to them. Biden, during a visit to Russia, commented rather openly about a Russia that he perceives to be weakening. This, after Russian President Medvedev and Obama agreed on a nuclear arms treaty. Naturally, many Russians - or the Russians who get quoted in newspapers - felt insulted by Biden's remarks. One can understand that feeling.

What I find interesting, though, is how only months ago our own media was pressing the idea of a slowly building New Cold War, hammering home the lingering smell of the old KGB in the person of former Russian Prez Putin. And now, Joe Biden can just waltz in after a seemingly historical arms deal and just call them a bunch of pussies? It's more likely just as much the lingering smell of the last administration and their need for a new enemy that's at fault for this rapidly changing picture of Russia that the government wants America to accept. Even Obama wasn't soft on Russia, referring to them as a computer, essentially, in his frequently-quoted "reset button" remarks. One has to wonder - with Obama in power, do they respect us more? Or do they fear us more? One thing is for sure, though - either way, they're still going to have to deal with Biden. I just want to know what Biden knows that we don't.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cheney's Lackwanna Blues and His Pal Scooter

Well, if you've been following the news recently-you would have seen that Dick Cheney was being discussed EVERYWHERE.

Recently it was revealed that back in 2002 then-Veep Cheney advocated sending U.S. troops to upstate New York to the town of Lackwanna near Buffalo to capture suspected terrorists. According to a law professor that spoke with The New York Times it would have been the first deployment of the military on U.S. soil since the Civil War. Cheney thought it was a matter of national security and used a memo in the Justice Dept sent shortly after Sept. 11 to justify his idea. Attorney General Ashcroft, along with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Condoleeza Rice all were against the idea. President Bush made the ultimate decision to instead send FBI agents to arrest the suspected terrorists. These terrorist suspects known as the "Lackwanna Six" were rumored to be connected to Al-Queda and they all later pleaded guilty to terrorism related charges as they actually did have connections to Al-Queda and were "aiding and abetting enemies of the United States". So for those of you who think Bush was Cheney's puppet back in the early days of "The War on Terror" you might not be as right as you think.

Furthermore, according to a recent article in TIME Magazine, at the end of the Bush Administration, Bush and Cheney were at each others throats over the pardoning of Scooter Libby. Just a reminder for everyone-Scooter Libby was Vice-President Cheneys Chief of Staff, and he was convicted for interfering and obstructing justice in the investigation on who outed undercover CIA spy Valerie Plame. Plame was exposed after her husband-former Ambassador Joseph Wilson made severe criticisms over intelligence reports before the war in Iraq. Libby never went to jail, and President Bush did commute his sentence-but he decided that he would NOT pardon Libby. According to TIME, this infuriated Cheney, and in the final days in their term-Cheney constantly asked the President to pardon Libby.

The TIME article says that at one point, Cheney even got in the president's face, as Cheney badgered Bush about it in a pretty relentless and almost bullying way.

"Cheney really got in the president's face," a family source told Time, which also interviewed dozens of (of course) anonymous White House insiders. "He just wouldn't give it up."

"These last hours represent a climactic chapter in the mysterious and mostly opaque relationship at the center of a tumultuous period in American history," the report says. "It reveals how one question - whether to grant a presidential pardon to a top vice-presidential aide - strained the bonds between Bush and his deputy and closest counselor."

After the article came out, Vice-President Cheney also came out-swinging- with this response
"Scooter Libby is an innocent man who was the victim of a severe miscarriage of justice. He was not the source of the leak of Valerie Plame's name. Former Deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, leaked the name and hid that fact from most of his colleagues, including the President. Mr. Libby is an honorable man and a faithful public servant who served the President, the Vice President and the nation with distinction for many years. He deserved a presidential pardon."

Well, it seems that President Bush disagreed with you Mr. VP, and since he's "The Decider" he made the decision and Libby was not pardoned. Bush believed he was guilty and felt no need to pardon him. For the President, it would seem that commuting his sentence and making sure he was never in jail were as much as he felt comfortable doing. Perhaps he was worried about his legacy and overturning the Justice system? Whatever, but the whole incident shows, just like in the case with the "Lackwanna Six" that Bush was not simply Cheney's go-along boy. That when he disagreed with his Vice-President, he wasn't afraid to go his own way.

On "The Early Show Saturday Edition," TIME assistant Managing Editor Michael Duffy said that Libby was the "vice president's top aide, long-time adviser on both domestic and foreign policy, and he got in trouble with the law. What we find fascinating is ... that the vice president pressed President Bush three times for this pardon. And even after the president had decided it once, twice, and with some finality, it kept coming back up.

"That was an interesting insight - a window into this relationship that was really the most important in the last ten years in our country, and not very well-reported, a hard-to-read, transparent, opaque, kind of very difficult relationship to understand, and this is the really first time anyone climbed into their back-and-forth.

"I think everyone on both staffs, the vice president's staff and the president's, realized this was coming to a head in a potentially very volatile way," Duffy said. "Everyone was quite nervous about it; both sides took fairly hard positions. The president at one point told his own personal lawyer that, if he had to take a poll on whether to give Libby a pardon, it would be 100-1 against in his staff.

"And so, by the time the Bush White House is coming to a close in the final three or four days, it's really kind of both sides are at loggerheads with each other. And in the end, Bush would just have to give the news to the vice president himself."

Both these stories make me wonder what else they disagreed about-and what will be revealed in Cheney's still untitled book. Stay tuned here for more.

Oh, and in other VP news, former VP Dan Quayle was on "Huckabee" on FOX News over the weekend, discussing the Palin resignation, the economy, and dealing with the press and being selected as VP. He agreed that his selection had some parallels with Palin-but keep in mind that he had been in Congress longer than Palin had been governor when she was selected. He did give this quote on Palin:

“I thought she got a bum rap. I think she's a very talented politician. I think from what I know, she's done a good job in Alaska."

Well, now you're up to date on whats going on in VP news. Stay tuned here for more and Thanks for Reading!
Matt Saxe

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers! Well, its summer, and people are going on vacation or with the economy being what it is the dreaded "staycation". I went with my daughter Caitlin back home to St. Louis for five days last week, but I'm not the only one who took a trip.

As I have reported here on this blog, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not Congress will subpoena former VP Cheney about the secret CIA Assassin Program that CIA Director Leon Panetta canceled last month. Cheney and his family have made no comment yet about this controversial story.

So what has he been doing to combat all this stress? Well, the former Veep has spent four days fishing in New Brunswick, Canada at the exclusive and private Rocky Brook Camp near Boiestown on the Restigouche and Miramichi rivers. Wow those are weird names for rivers those Canadians have.

It would seem that for almost a hundred years U.S. presidents, sports figures, and other rich folks have traveled to this pristine and isolated area for some of the best fishing in North America. It was one of baseball (and competitive fishing) legend Ted Williams favorite spots, John Elway has fished there as well, and last summer "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels took his son up there for a Father-Son getaway.

The locals are used to all the celebrities and aren't really fazed by it as shown by this quote in Canadian newspaper The Daily Gleaner:

"So that's who it was?" said Scott Clowater, mayor of Upper Miramichi.

"I heard something was going on, a little rumour, but it happens all the time. Over the years, there have been quite a few celebrities up there. Everyone is very secretive about it and there's not much to-do about it."

One interesting thing was that when Cheney was spotted, he was surrounded by Secret Service protection. Remember, just last week as I reported, President Obama approved Cheney getting a six month extension on Secret Service protection. Just in time for his fishing expedition. So I guess they got to go on a fishing trip too. Besides, fishing can be really relaxing, and with all that's going on with him, writing a book, worried about being called in front of Congress, etc., I guess everyone deserves a little rest and relaxation every now and then. Besides, look at it this way-when you're fishing its hard to shoot someone in the face. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

VP Grab Bag

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers! Its Matt Saxe, back from my trip to St. Louis. Thanks to Jason for posting his review of the Sarah Palin comic-if you haven't read either yet, I recommend reading both and letting us know what you think.

Besides your local comics purveyor-you may have also seen former Gov. Palin on the cover of Newsweek with the title-"The Renegade". I guess if McCain was "The Maverick" then "The Renegade" can work for a Republican hockey mom. Though I don't see why she just doesn't stick with her high-school basketball nickname "The Barracuda". Oh well.

In the July 20th issue of Newsweek in an excellent article titled "Beyond the Palin" by Rick Perlstein the author of the best-selling book "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America", he cites numerous prominent conservatives-what could be called "The Elite Conservatives", such as The Washington Posts Charles Krauthammer, former federal judge Richard Posner, and former Bush speechwriter David Frum who seem to hope that Palin and her style of Republican politics will just go away. To quote Posner: "the face of the Republican party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party." For him, the sooner Palin is out of the picture as today's Republican-the better.
Frum too thinks that its time for his party to stop trying to constantly appeal to the kind of voters Palin attracts, saying in his now widely read blog post titled "Bristol's Myth" that "the socially conservative downscale voter is increasingly becoming a mirage-and Republican politics based on that mirage will only lead us deeper into the desert."

The solution to this problem?

Well it would seem from what these guys are saying is that instead of using Palin to attract those kinds of voters who love her down-home one of the regular folks style, the Republicans who love Rush (who Frum considers "dangerous") and Fox News, is to leave them behind, and instead concentrate on attracting even more upscale voters-particularly whites, who don't like Obamas financial moves and who don't think Obama is going to make America a socialist state and take away all our guns.

After all, Whites under-30 who are low on the economic spectrum are not going to the polls in increasing numbers the way young, college educated, economically upscale whites and African-Americans are. Where will Sarah Palin fit into this Republican Party that is trying to define itself? We shall see.

In Cheney news, this morning Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano, under the instruction of President Obama, extended former VP Cheney's Secret Service protection for another six months. Usually former Veeps get six months of Secret Service protection-paid for with our tax dollars of course. However, Cheney asked the President if he could extend it for him. As everyone who has been reading this blog knows, Cheney, and his wife and daughter have all been very critical of the Obama White House and their policies-particularly on "The War on Terror", still that didn't stop President Obama from granting the extension. Cheneys friends and family have been worried for his safety since leaving office-and if this hadn't been approved, Cheney would have either had to pay for protection out of his own pocket, or had none at all. "Protectees" of the federal government can ask for extensions, so Cheney did. Will he do it again in another six months? Who knows?

Thanks for reading!

Matt Saxe.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Female Force

Firstly, my apologies to those readers of the blog who like reading daily blogs more than twice a week. Matt worked, diligently as ever, to help uncover some of the latest Cheney mysteries while I, alas, worked on getting a pilot of another project going. Luckily for us, this project could quickly mean big exposure for Vice-Precedence once our names are attached to this other, top-secret project.

A big thanks again to the people at Bluewater Comics, who, after our interview in June, sent along the Female Force series for the perusal of yours truly. Naturally, I gravitated toward recently resigned Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's comic first, knowing full well that if I could find in those 22 pages the kind of comedic restraint I have to exercise whenever writing about her, that Bluewater might just be the company to get me as interested in comics as many of my friends - especially my co-writer Matt Saxe - are.

It turns out I was right. And a little frustrated at the end of the day, to be honest. I actually kind of dig their raw look - this isn't your Spider-Hulk or Aqua-Fellow, but it ain't shabby. Especially not for a company that seems to have cornered the market on up-to-the-minute comic adaptations, churning them out just in time to stay fresh. Luckily, they remain pretty interesting.

The worst part of this comic was, frankly, how interested I suddenly became in Sarah Palin. Though the comic ends abruptly (her resignation would've been a good tag, if she'd have had the forethought to keep writer Neal Bailey in mind and resign a bit sooner), it makes some very good points, coming from an admittedly liberal source. It uses the wit of the confused writer in brief interludes, perplexed as to how to approach telling Palin's story without a bias, combined with dry facts that pop with high-contrast art, to get your attention and make you want to learn more. It knows you probably have made up your mind, but allows you to consider that maybe you don't have to.

So... 'Nuff said, I guess. I liked the comic quite a bit. They're doing what we plan to do, as I've said before. Though I dare them to make a Spiro Agnew comic. Seriously. I will stand in line tomorrow if that happens.

- Jason C. Klamm
(Author's Note: "Palin" is also not in Blogger's dictionary.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Like Father, Like Daughter?

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers! Matt Saxe here posting a quick blog because I am literally running out the door to St. Louis for the next 4 days. Just wanted to update you on a few things.

1. We now know that this secret CIA program that former VP Cheney didn't inform Congress about over the last seven years that CIA Director Panetta shut down just last month and told Congress about was supposed to be primarily an elite anti-terrorist assassination squad. Yes you read that right. The problem was that the logistics were basically too complicated-in essence the problem that couldn't be solved was: "How do we get these U.S. CIA assassins close enough to there Al-Queda targets without letting it be known they're from the U.S.? Then, once they've killed those bastards-how do we get them out and safely home?" A difficult dilemma to be sure. Before getting in a huge offended huff people-remember the program never really got off the ground, and it is over. It is no longer going on, period. However, this isn't keeping some people from debating about whether or not there should be an investigation into it all and hearings about Cheney keeping it a secret. Stay tuned for more.

2. It looks like Liz Cheney-Vice-Presidents Cheneys daughter who is helping him with his still untitled book might be getting into the family business. She is an outspoken Republican and is getting a lot of media attention. She recently made some sharp comments on President Obama's visit to Russia, and may be considering a run for Congress.

"I've spent a lot of time promoting democracy around the world," Cheney told the Washington Times on Monday, declaring herself willing to consider the idea of running for political office. "It has made me really grateful for our system and has given me a real understanding of how important it is to participate."

We'll see what happens and keep you updated. Thanks for reading! I'll be back on here posting soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cheney and the CIA Plot! Plus more Birthdays.

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers! Well, over the weekend and in the last 24 hours there has been a lot of discussion about former Vice-President Cheney and if 8 years ago he illegally concealed from Congress and the American public a counterterrorism program the CIA was just starting.

New CIA Director Leon Panetta, who as I have already reported in this blog, has been very critical of the former VP's recent comments about how the Obama Administration is handling national security, put a halt to the program last month on June 23. The day after the program was dismantled, Director Panetta had meetings with both the Senate and House Intelligence committees who learned of the existence of this program for the first time and let them know that he had stopped it. This all is happening as the House is about to enter a debate into whether or not more government officials need to be informed about these kinds of secrets.

No one has yet revealed exactly what this program was meant to do or how it was going about it. It is known that the program was created very soon after the attacks on 9/11, at a time where a lot of ideas were being tossed around since no one knew if another attack was imminent and the general feeling of the country was-"Let's do something! Anything!"

Now some Democrats are calling for an investigation to decide if what VP Cheney did was legal. Of course there has been a lot of arguing along partisan lines on whether or not this deserves an investigation. I get the feeling that in a way, the Obama Administration almost doesn't want to dredge this up because it could damage their ability to work with Republicans on what they want to accomplish domestically in the economy, health care, and the environment. After all, this program was created 8 years ago, and never really got off the ground it seems. Director Panetta canceled it last month and Congress has been informed about it. It is over.

In fact, in an article in the NEW YORK TIMES an anonymous CIA officer says that no one in the agency protested against Director Panettas decision to terminate this program which is now causing all this debate.

“Because this program never went fully operational and hadn’t been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial,” the official said. “That’s worth remembering amid all the drama.”

So maybe this isn't as big a deal as some people seem to think it is? Or is that just naive?

Does the fact that Cheney gave direct orders to CIA directors to not let Congress know about this effort demonstrate how important it was to the White House? Or does it say that the Administration felt that this program was so small and insignificant, that they felt they didn't really need to let Congress know? Does any of this matter at all since the program is deader than a beheaded zombie? What do you think?

As of today, former VP Cheney and no one on his staff at the time have commented in any way about this new controversy. Cheney has a history of wanting to keep government secrets....well, secret. Even going to the Supreme Court over the issue. What happens now? Well, people have their opinions of course:

Conservative: National Review: Michael Goldfarb writes, “From what I can tell this Cheney scandal story . . . is the mother of all nothingburgers. It’s hard for me not to see it as a ploy by Democrats to distract from the fact that the stimulus bill is a dud, healthcare is going badly and cap-and-trade looks like a disaster. The base always enjoys beating up on Cheney and the press likes that stuff too.”

Liberal: First Draft: Liberal Blogger Athenae writes: “Even with this major scary new revelatory whatever, no matter what it ends up being about, in about two weeks we’re going to have a resolution declaring it’s all okay, and nobody needs to go to jail or apologize or anything. I’d love to be proved wrong, by the way, but I don’t think I will be.”

I wonder if since Cheney's not talking about it now, if he will in his book? Congressional hearings on secret CIA programs would be a hell of a way to drum up some publicity for the still unknown titled book-and that's a secret that he's done a great job of keeping.

Well, what do you think? Please let us know, and also, let us know about things you'd like us to address here on the blog-we value our readers.

On another note-HAPPY BIRTHDAY former VP and President Gerald Ford and more importantly-JASON KLAMM! Co-producer and co-writer of "VICE-PRECEDENCE:Being Number Two in the White House" the documentary film, the book, and of course, here on the blog. Imagine that-one of the producers of the first ever documentary on the Vice-Presidency sharing a birthday with a Veep. Thanks for reading folks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday George M. Dallas!

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers! Well, July is a big month for Vice-President birthdays. 6 Vice-Presidents have their birthdays this month!

On Wed-July 8th it was Nelson Rockefellers birthday. Today, July 10th is the birthday of Vice-President George Mifflin Dallas! Born today, July 10th 1792 in Philadelphia, PA. Vice President under President James K. Polk (D) from 1845-1849.

Before becoming VP, Dallas had served as the Mayor of Philadelphia, was a Senator for all of 15 months, and had also been minister to Russia. Oh, and for all you conspiracy theorists, he also was the Grandmaster of the Freemasons in Pennsylvania. He literally was given the nomination when the person they wanted-Senator Silas Wright of NY-turned it down. Twice.

The delegates didn't know what to do, until Senator Robert Walker of Mississippi suddenly came up with the idea that his uncle-in-law could fill the job. After all, he was breathing. The by now exhausted, bored, and pretty wasted delegates left at the convention in Baltimore just wanted to get it done and go home-so they figured-"Why not?"

The delegates left Baltimore and in a sort of 19th century version of a drunk college road trip-rode their horses and carriages all the way to Philadelphia and arrived at Mr. Dallas' doorstep at an hour that mostly only certain ladies of the night, rats, and of course-drunken slobs are out. The noise they made convinced Dallas that the only way to greet this mob at his door was with a loaded shotgun. Finally convinced they weren't a threat, Dallas let his fellow Democrats into his house, and right there at a perfectly ungodly hour and in his very own living room, Senator John Fairfield of Maine let him know that his party had honored him with their nomination for Vice-President of the United States!

So join us here at Vice-Precedence as we say "Happy Birthday Vice-President George M. Dallas!"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Biden Never Thought

I wasn't at all sure what to talk about today, hence the late-published blog. I was doing a routine search on Google for '"Joe Biden" gaffe,' finding it hilarious how often the media will jump to the word "gaffe" no matter the level of stupid that comes out. Most recently, it was about us not interfering with Isreal's sovereign right to blow up Iran. I think that was the spin...

I was going to play the old "compare the facts" game, finding a not-too-surprising 206,000 results for the aforementioned search string. Then, I decided, I'd search for '"Joe Biden" brilliant,' with 302,000... results... ...?

I shook it off as best I could. Without knowing the man, I have difficulty judging his level of brilliance, but I don't doubt it. What I DO doubt, however, is that many people or articles linking the ideas of "Joe Biden" and "brilliance." Even mentioning him in the same article is unlikely. So I clicked on the first result, a blog from the NY Times. And in it, I found a gem. A gem I should have found months earlier (when this blog really should have started). A gem that, without a doubt, will survive EVERY edit of the coming Vice-Precedence book. The blog quoted Biden thus:
“All the years you covered me, I never, quite frankly, thought about the vice presidency.”
Cue the sigh of ecstasy. Yes, there was more to the quote. But I'm a writer. That said, I assure you - there is no further context needed. Certainly, it's not as stinging as John Nance Garner's quote (perhaps simultaneously the most famous and most bastardized in the history of the office) "The Vice Presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm shit," but it, like the best quotes about the office, stands out as evidence that no man expects it to happen, no man looks forward to it, most of them accept it as fact, and, which is yet to be seen, most of them, eventually, regret it.

That said, this week, Biden got back from Iraq, talked about health care and talked about economic stimulus, specifically in the state capital of my home state, New York. I wish I'd have been home this week. The interview WILL happen. I promise you.

That, and much more to come next week.

- Jason C. Klamm

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Nelson Rockefeller!

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

Well, today, July 8th is the birthday of undoubtedly the richest Vice-President in history-Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller-Republican VP under Gerald Ford. Born today July 8th 1908 in Bar Harbor, ME.

Yes, he's one of those Rockefellers- as in Rockefeller Center, "30 Rock", etc. He was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller-founder of the mega-monopoly Standard Oil Company, one of the richest and most powerful companies in the history of the U.S., and perhaps the world. So Rockefeller was born into not just wealth, but extreme wealth. To give you an example: His mother founded the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Also, when he became VP, he didn't move into the official Vice-Presidents home at the Unites States Naval Observatory because he had a bigger, more lavish and better furnished mansion in Washington already. In fact, he was so rich that he used his own money to purchase new furnishings for the Vice-Presidential residence and donated his salary as VP to federal programs to build education and community centers for the inner-cities and teach the children going to these new facilities the fine arts.

All this wealth gave him a sort of skewed look at the world-as he so ably demonstrated with this quote from a speech about the struggle of middle-class working families:

"Now you take an average family with an income of $100,000...."


Rockefeller was never elected VP, like his predecessor Gerald Ford, he was appointed VP and approved by the Senate under the 25th amendment in the wake of the resignations of VP Sprio T. Agnew and of President Nixon after Watergate. In 1976 when Ford decided to run for President, under pressure from the right-wing of the Republican party who found Rockefeller too liberal, he dropped him from the ticket and replaced him with Bob Dole.

One of the more fascinating things about Rockefeller are the strange circumstances surrounding his death-something that the family would like people to forget. We know that he died on Jan. 26th 1979 from a heart attack that would have killed a blue whale.

The first reports said he was found by a security guard in his office in Rockefeller Center where he was writing a book about his massive art collection. It wasn't until later that it was revealed that he had not died in his office, but was in the company of one of his aides in his townhouse. The aide happened to be a lovely 25 year old woman named Megan Marshak. Strangely, since it was later claimed the two were having a "business meeting" there were no papers, folders or anything remotely "business" like in the room. Hmmm.

When the former VP had this heart attack some time between 9:15 and 10:15 PM, Marshak didn't call an ambulance, but instead called her friend news reporter Ponchitta Pierce, to the townhouse, and it was Pierce who phoned an ambulance at 11:15. What happened in that hour or so is still debated, and the Rockefeller family doesn't like to discuss. However, according to Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the idea of a scandal after a distinguished career would not have sat well with the Rockefeller family, so the staff and aides took it upon themselves to make the scene "picture perfect" for the incoming police photographers. According to Goodwin, the staff propped up Rockefeller in his chair and slumped him over his desk with a newspaper in his hands, but first-they actually dressed the dead former VP, since he had apparently left this world the same way he came into it. Unless Rockefeller liked to wear his shoes on the wrong feet and read his newspaper upside-down, the paramedics and police weren't fooled and reporters had a field day with all the dirty details and cover-up.

Marshak must have been a damn good assistant since Rockefeller left her a townhouse as well as $50K in his will. Finally the family couldn't take it anymore and they admitted that the 25 year-old Marshak and the 70 year old former VP had been having an affair, and the official report revealed that good old Nelson had his heart attack while performing sexual intercourse with Marshak-bearing a striking resemblance to what happens to the President in the beginning of the Kevin Kline movie "Dave".

So on that note, we say "Happy Birthday Nelson A. Rockefeller!"

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Biden Swears in, Palin Swears Revenge

As you may know, the Veep is currently in Iraq, making the rounds to prove to us just how safe it is to live there. If you have body armor. Some body armor. And a cadre of Secret Service Agents. Oh, and guns, that's right, guns.

Still, Biden made the rounds, so to speak, greeted by the forces in Iraq, and then made a special trip to see his son, Beau, who, despite being Attorney General of Delaware, also finds the time to serve as a Captain with the Delaware National Guard. He also took the time during his sojourn abroad to give some fighting men and women what they've been holding out for, besides the whole "not dying" thing. The Vice President, sporting a khaki suit and combat boots, looking somewhat like a desert pimp, spent some of July 4 helping 237 members of the Armed Forces become American citizens. They were sworn in in Al Faw Palace, previously occupied by one Saddam Hussein, to which Biden said "That S.O.B is rolling in his grave right now." Classy, Joe. Then again "that's good 'ol Joe for ya'!" And, really, I can't go about saying Saddam wasn't an SOB, just... I might do it with some class. But still with a khaki suit and combat boots.

Meanwhile, as Matt so diligently reported, Sarah Palin, Biden's former "competitor" for the Number Two spot, has resigned her Governorship effective the end of July. Sort of?

CNN, who rudely interrupted the controversy-embroiled Governor on an impromptu fishing trip, caught her with her pants up - her waders, that is! - and her fists raised, reporting this morning that Palin told them "I am not a quitter; I am a fighter." Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

As CNN and Fox News both reported, Palin didn't rule out a run for the Presidency in 2012. Son... of a bitch.

I don't hate the lady. In one of the pieces I've written for the book, I describe my own early distaste for her that was then peppered with some understanding at the reasons people were calling her stupid, like "not knowing what the VP does." Let's be honest - the VP doesn't have to do much at all, so in essence, it was a valid question. But these latest developments beg the question - she pulled down McCain's campaign, so how does she think she can have one all her own?

If the media is as powerful and vindictive as she'd like us to believe, calling the accusations against her "bull crap" (classy, Sarah), how does she plan on winning us over? Her idea of being a politician is to just play straight-up corn-fed, slap your baby and kiss your back. She's about 70 years behind in understanding what it actually means to be a politician. If she wants back in the game, she's going to have to play hard ball. And if she does, I see a bunch of Anti-Hillary democrats changing their minds just to keep Palin off the ticket.

Which ticket, though, remains to be seen. She's reportedly been trashing both Obama and the Republican party quite heavily, a move that indicates she's either clinging to the "Maverick Republican" image of John McCain, or she's moving on. Could there be a third-party run? Despite her record, her popularity could easily get whatever third party she chose instant media coverage, sending the media tripping over itself to "see what this whole third-party thing is all about," leading it to - cue the collective orgasm of Libertarians everywhere - eventually giving someone like Ron Paul some air time.

Whatever she decides to do, I think you should know this when you think toward 2012. There are people, like Thomas Van Flein (Palin's lawyer), who think things like this (as quoted on CNN):

"In my opinion, she was the national campaign for Republicans last fall," Van Flein said. "I know John McCain was the candidate, but the decision was really about Sarah Palin and could she take on Obama. That was a lot of weight on her shoulders to carry that campaign, and they almost pulled it off."

- Jason Klamm
(see my own presidential campaign site, for 2020 [& 2016] here, to give you an idea of what can happen when media completely informs someone's idea of what it is to be a politician)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cheney on Republican Cheating...but not in politics.

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers! Hope you had a great 4th of July Weekend!

What incredible events with Gov. Palins' resignation and Vice-President Bidens' visit to Iraq this weekend. Compared with them, Cheney was sort of quiet over the weekend, but here's something I found interesting.

In case you missed it, over the last two weeks two prominent Republicans: Senator John Ensign of Nevada, and Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, both confessed to extramarital affairs.
Ensign stunned the folks back home in Nevada when out of the blue, he admitted to an affair with aide Cynthia Hampton. He then resigned as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, a top Senate leadership position, after critics branded him as the worst kind of hypocrite for harshly criticizing others for their trysts -- including President Clinton back during the Lewinsky Scandal. At the time Ensign said Clinton should resign -- and now he admits indulging in his own sexual indiscretions with the wife of a friend, who also, happened to work for him! The affair started in 2007 and even when the husband Doug Hampton confronted Ensign about it in his house in DC in front of witnesses, it still continued. Hampton sent a letter to Fox News describing in detail everything he knew about the affair and how it had ruined his marriage and his life. There might even be elements of extortion involved in this mess, since Hampton got two jobs back home in Nevada with companies with strong ties to Ensign. Ensign made calls on Hamptons behalf to both companies. Not good.

The Sanford scandal was even more bizarre with the Governor going off the radar over the Fathers Day weekend for what he later claimed was a trip hiking along the Appalachian Trail. Sanford somehow managed to lose his security detail on Thurs (pretty impressive in a way actually), missed Fathers Day weekend with his family-(Way to go father of four!), and then played hooky from work on Monday as well, leaving the whole state playing "Where in the World is our Governor?"

Well, fact was Gov. Sanford wasn't appreciating the Appalachian Trails' many examples of the beauty of nature, but was instead enjoying a different kind of beauty-hooking up with his Argentine mistress-María Belén Chapur. Sanford later copped to the affair at a press conference shocking The Palmetto State. Sanford claims that Chapur is his " soul mate" and that the relationship was not "just about sex". He also confessed at a different press conference that he had casual encounters with other women while he was married but before he met Chapur. So I guess that means that at least he didn't cheat on his wife and his mistress with other women at the same time. Sanford tried to end the affair, even going to New York this past winter with his wifes' permission, taking a spiritual advisor so he could confront Chapur and end it, but he couldn't stay away from Chapur and the affair continued.

Outraged legislators and voters in South Carolina in both parties have claimed that Sanford should resign or be impeached because he was unreachable during the latest Argentina trip and that no one was in charge of state government during his no longer secret liaison. Sanford did resign as the head of the Republican Governors Association and says he is working on reconciling with his wife and family, but it seems he will not resign as Governor.
Gov. Sanford, like Senator Ensign, was extremely critical of President Clinton during "Monica-Gate", and was known as a strong voice for the conservative Christian right-clashing with President Obama over the stimulus package. Sanford was considered a serious contender for the 2012 Republican Presidential or VP nomination. He even wrote about the talk of him being VP in somewhat graphic love emails he sent to Chapur.
Now all those dreams are gone for them both. So what does former VP Cheney think about all this? Well, he was asked about it on the Washington Times radio program, and sort of danced around the question. Instead of criticizing his fellow Republicans, he took the opportunity to promote newer, younger Republican politicians just coming in to national prominence. Here's the entire article from The National Review's website-Jim Geraghty reporting:


Dick Cheney, Discussing Mark Sanford and John Ensign

Former vice president Dick Cheney, appearing on the Washington Times radio program on June 29th, 2009 was asked about whether the recent troubles of Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Mark Sanford impact the future of the Republican party:

"I know both of those gentlemen, I consider them friends, and I'm sorry to see them in the difficulties they're now in. But I think from the standpoint of the party, we've got some great talent out there, young people coming along that are going to do a superb job. I always remind people that in adversity, there's opportunity. You get people like Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, Rob Portman from Ohio, Jon Huntsman from Utah and so forth. We've got some very talented folks coming along. And I think that it's just a matter of time before the party begins to sort of firm up around a few key individuals, and we'll hear big things from them in the future."

Portman is running for Senate in Ohio in 2010; President Obama named Huntsman the new U.S. ambassador to China

Notice who he didn't mention? And that was before her resignation. Will these new GOP members be in the running for the VP nomination in 2012? We'll see.

Thanks for reading-Stay tuned to the Vice-Precedence blog for the latest news on everything VP related!

Matt Saxe

Friday, July 3, 2009

SHOCKER-Sarah Palin Resigns as Governor of Alaska! Link to video of resignation HERE!

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers! Stunning news that I just HAD to let you know.

Former VP Candidate, current Gov. of Alaska, Hockey-Mom, and lightning rod for controversy Sarah Palin announced at an 11AM press conference today that she will not only not seek a second term as Governor, but also that she will resign as Governor of Alaska! Effective at the end of the month! The Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell will be sworn in on July 26, 2009.

In a very emotional speech, Palin said her decision came after much “prayer and consideration.” She did not want to waste time on “political blood sport” and cited public criticism of her actions and her family since the 2008 campaign.

There have recently been a lot of stories criticizing Gov. Palin and her family in the news. Besides the controversy with David Letterman that became a national debate, there has been the interview with Levi Johnston in GQ where he stated that the Palins weren't always very good to him-even though he's the father of their grandchild, that Todd offered to buy him a snow-machine if he stopped seeing Bristol, and how people are reluctant to hire him for a job because they feared they might incur the wrath of the Governor. Also, members of the McCain campaign team were very harsh on Palin in other interviews and Vanity Fair's Todd S. Purdum also wrote a massive article on Palin with this incredible quote:

"Palin is unlike any other national figure in modern American life—neither Anna Nicole Smith nor Margaret Chase Smith but a phenomenon all her own. The clouds of tabloid conflict and controversy that swirl around her and her extended clan—the surprise pregnancies, the two-bit blood feuds, the tawdry in-laws and common-law kin caught selling drugs or poaching game—give her family a singular status in the rogues’ gallery of political relatives. By comparison, Billy Carter, Donald Nixon, and Roger Clinton seem like avatars of circumspection. Palin’s life has sometimes played out like an unholy amalgam of Desperate Housewives and Northern Exposure."


Palins' entire emotional resignation speech is on her official government website. I'm including links to it and to Purdums' story and video of the resignation speech here!


What does it all mean? Will Palin get her house in order and make a run for the Presidency in 2012? Is her career in politics over for good? Stay Tuned here at the Vice-Precedence Blog and Have a Happy 4th of July! Thanks for reading!

Funny Pictures of Veeps - Charles Curtis

Okay, I apologize for this apparent piece of fluff. In the middle of the night, I didn't feel I could do proper justice to a blog about Joe Biden and gay rights. Next week, kids. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite pictures of a Veep ever. This is Charles "Charley" Curtis, VP under Hoover. By any historians account, Charley was less than memorable, at least in action as a VP. Outside of his rise to the second-highest office in the land, he made his mark, but good.

Now, keep in mind, I don't look up to the man pictured here in what could be the most unflattering staged photograph of a head of state ever. As a Vice President, at least, he was an embarassment, inspiring, among other things, the character of Alexander Throttlebottom in the Gershwin musical "Of Thee I Sing," in which the Vice President doesn't have enough clout to get a library card. Curtis also notoriously insulted the "idiots" of America while his country was in the middle of the Great Depression. I don't know if this picture was taken before or after that particular blow-up, but the heat, as it were, was always on. But Charley never seemed to feel it.

But old "Damp Brow" Curtis, as he should have been called, wasn't all bad. He's been frequently painted as one of the poorest choices for VP in history, possibly rightly. As VP, so it's been said, he did almost nothing. But to get that high and to have so little to do, no one can say Charles Curtis didn't bust his hump.

He was rumored to have memorized the names of thousands of his constituents, life stories all stored in little black books, but only as backups for the kind of memory that would aid any career in law. He could easily have been the model for the straw-hat-wearing politician. On the other hand, despite his obvious (and ironic, given his running as a "minority" due to 1/8 Indian blood) distaste for the downtrodden, Curtis, for one reason or another, was one of the strongest forces in passing the 19th Amendment.

As Vice President, though, Curtis was notoriously pompous, ignoring the very people who got him the office. Perhaps he resented the men he would no longer allow to call him "Charley," for elevating him to mediocrity. Maybe this is why, after his term was over, he went back into law while in his seventies - perhaps hoping to make a difference again, if not a new name for himself.

Unyielding in his pomposity, Charles Curtis saved his worse face for the office that gave him the most exposure, and his likely distaste for the uselessness of the office shown through. Sadly, he never returned to his home State of Kansas after being Vice President, and died in Washington, DC. His most prominent legacy is likely The Pulitzer Prize that, in many ways, his personality was responsible for - the first Pulitzer ever given out for a musical.

Well, at least he advanced the legitimization of political satire as an art form. You win some, you lose some.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cheney's Book-Update!

Hey "Vice-Precedence" blog readers! Thanks for becoming Fans of us on Facebook, we really appreciate it. Please encourage family and friends you know to become Fans as well. Also, please post some comments here on the blog-we want to know what you think and if you have suggestions for stories or interviews you'd like to see here.

As I mentioned in my first blog posting here; former VP Cheney is writing a book about his years as Vice-President. Al Kamen at the Washington Post recently wrote about how its coming along, and posted the picture you see of Cheney here in the blog taken on Air Force Two-the Veeps official plane-last year. The picture shows the Vice-President hard at work, with a copy of Bart Gellmans book Angler, on his desk opened but face down with some pages even bookmarked. Gellmans book rips and shreds at Cheney like a tiger on cocaine attacking a baby deer. Apparently the Vice-President was interested in what people were saying about him back in early 2008. Imagine that. Cheney got a $2 million dollar advance on his book-so in case you were worrying about his financial situation-no need! In the interview Cheney claims his book "won't be a screed" and that it's not about "trying to settle grudges." Well, we'll see, but, either way, I will be reading it. Hope he's working hard on it.

Remember to become a Fan of "Vice-Precedence" on Facebook if you haven't already and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Joe Biden - Iraq Glue

Today, former comedian Al Franken was finally certified - whatever side you're on, it's been a long haul - as the winner of a months-long recount, as Minnesota's newest little Senator. Once Minnesota's non-wrestling Governor officially declares it so, Franken will be the best actor outside of Fred Thompson to ever hold an elected office. Scratch that - best professional actor.

Franken's fight has been long, but he's had support as high, at least, as the President. Of the Senate. Joe Biden, whose last name still isn't recognized in Blogger's dictionary, has had even-tempered, well-reasoned things to say for awhile on the situation. Back in May, though, he finally exploded with-

"The election process and recount in Minnesota have lived up to the state's reputation for organization, transparency, and bipartisanship. The officials have been meticulous and every ruling has been unanimous."
Really, Joe?

Okay, it's not that I'm expecting Biden to explode, or that I'm disinterested in the general even tone slowly, but evenly pouring out of the White House of late. Like most people, I am expecting something so honest and poorly-thought-out as to practically be charming. Still, after delving a bit into Joe's political past, starting as one of the youngest Senators in the body's history, I'm curious as to where the fire has gone and why. Maybe he's mellowed out. Maybe it's diplomatic. Maybe that's a good thing?

The Obama Administration announced today that Joe Biden is being sent to Iraq. Six years and three months after the tremendously successful invasion that Joe Biden voted in the majority for, he's being sent there... in a capacity of some kind. "I would hesitate to use the term 'mediator,' " said Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary. Understandable. The Veep, who actually wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times three years ago proposing that we

"...establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad. The Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security."
doesn't necessarily bring to mind "temperate." He's being involved in Iraq to, as the White House put it, "oversee that we are making progress...." Fair enough. The majority seem to be characterizing it as a natural choice, given his stint on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1997, during which time he, among other things, paired with - of all people - Jesse Helms to save the United States' right to vote in the United Nations. And maybe they're right. His foreign policy experience, and his 1 for 2 voting record on Wars Involving Iraq, were undoubtedly things that the Obama Administration looked at when deciding how to use Biden.

Let's think about that for a second... An administration not just FINDING a use for a VP, but thinking about one ahead of time? This isn't unprecedented, but it's certainly a good sign. Maybe he won't just be a ribbon-cutter. Only time will tell.

Looking back at one particular article from The Evening Independent in St. Petersburg, Florida (thank you Google News Archives) that one doesn't assume has any particular reason to stump for Biden in the middle of the summer, I read a brief excerpt of what I'd like to hope Joe Biden was really like at one point. For one, the article begins by calling him 'Fiery Joe' Biden, calling him "The Last of the Red-Hot Angry Democrats," comparing him, appropriately enough, if only now, to Hubert Humphrey.

It describes, in detail, Biden tearing up the Reagan Administration for turning a blind eye to embattled South Africa. There's a heated debate between then-Senator Biden and Secretary of State George Shultz, during which Biden said:

"I'm ashamed of this country that puts out a policy like this, that says nothing, nothing. I'm ashamed of the lack of Moral backbone in this policy... let the South Africa blacks know we stand behind them foursquare."
At which point he was met, rather ineffectively, by Shultz:

"(It's) a complicated situation. Obviously the blacks are repressed... But I don't turn my back on the whites. They are also people."
Biden, then, coolly responded "I speak for the oppressed, whatever they happen to be."

Though a simple "did you hear what you just said?" might have sufficed, the lofty button to
Biden's end of the argument had to have hit home, at least a little. The article goes on to describe Biden's "presidential problem" as having "a style too feverish for the cool television age." Needless to say, the article got me really pumped. About Joe Biden in 1986, anyway.

The question then remains - is that fire still there? Is it the same fire that seems to come out in badly-timed or ill-conceived spurts? Perhaps a chance to put a country back together - a country, it's important to point out, that he's had a somewhat unprecedented chance to affect in a large way over the years - is the thing to bring back 'Fiery Joe.' If he's learned the lesson of his vote for the war in Iraq, and if he still, indeed "speaks for the oppressed," maybe Joe Biden will be, if not the glue, at least the clamps that hold it together until the glue dries. Yes, I just compared modern-day, war-torn Iraq to a woodshop project.

- Jason C. Klamm