Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dick Cheney-"2009 Conservative of the Year"

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers!

Well, here it is-the final blog of 2009. Its been an amazing year here on the blog, breaking the news about the Palin resignation and meeting her at her book signing, keeping track of all the events of the first year of the Biden vice-presidency, marking the VP's birthdays, alerting you to VP Cheneys surgery and the protests at the U. of Wyoming, and updating you-our readers-of every major and minor bit of news in regards to the vice-presidency that occurred throughout the year. Its all been a blast.

So, as a fitting end to the year-former VP Richard Cheney has been named "Conservative of the Year" by influential conservative internet magazine

Human Events was one of the late President Ronald Reagan's favorite newspapers when he was President, (back when newspapers and magazines still mattered) and it has now blossomed in our new Internet Age into one of the most influential online conservative magazines out there.

The unique thing about Cheney being the Conservative of the Year over other such prominent conservatives like Senator Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, or even (in an upset in a way) Sarah Palin, is that he did not hold any office in 2009. Unlike other possible candidates like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, he has no radio show or TV show of his own. He doesn't have the looks or has published a book this year like Ann Coulter.

Cheney is simply a citizen of the U.S. (who happens to be a former VP of the United States)who has taken every opportunity he can at every speaking engagement or media appearance he has made, to defend his and President Bush's record over the majority of this decade and to attack the Obama Administration which he sees as making many mistakes, and being especially weak in "The War on Terror" and on national security issues. By doing so, Cheney has become the gadfly of the Obama White House and opened himself to even more attacks by Democrats and liberals who for years have cursed Cheney as "Darth Cheney" and all. As I have stated on this blog, the one thing you have to admire about Mr.Cheney is that he has no fear of being unpopular, but in this last year with all the Tea-Partiers and Birthers and conservatives gnashing their teeth-his views and statements are finding a bigger audience then when he was VP.

Along with his criticism of the current administration, he made news with another surgery, by simply cutting meat for his family, found himself embroiled in controversies as we reported here on the blog-like the protests about the International Student Center named for him at his alma mater-the University of Wyoming, and the birth of a new grandchild by his lesbian daughter and his defense of gay rights-making him unique among his conservatives, something that is not brought up in article about him being Conservative of the Year incidentally. To go along with all this-his own book should be coming out soon and is highly anticipated by many wondering what went on behind the scenes in the White House during some of the most important years in American history.

In the article where he was named Conservative of the Year written by Bush Administration Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, he cites the similarities and differences between Cheney and current VP Biden, and even former VP Spiro Agnew, Cheneys legacy as a former VP, addresses the reports of strife between Bush and Cheney in their last days in office (as reported in TIME Magazine and here on the blog) and how Cheney is now one of the major voices of conservatism in the U.S. today. Here is some of Boltons article:

To have a former Vice President willing to go on the record once he leaves office is a huge service to us and our nation, helping to illuminate and explain key factors affecting our national security.

Perhaps most galling to Democrats is how closely Joe Biden’s role as Vice President has tracked that of Cheney’s, which these same Democrats criticized so vociferously while Cheney was in office. The main difference, of course, is that Cheney is much quieter than Biden, which objective observers have to score as a plus for Cheney.

Desperate to distinguish themselves from Cheney, Biden’s media flacks say that he and his staff have worked well with Obama’s White House staff, in contrast to the rancor and in-fighting of the Bush-Cheney years. This effort to re-write history, however, simply will not fly. Especially on national-security policy, the Bush and Cheney staffs worked well and closely together. If, at the end of eight years, the staff relationships were not as close as at the beginning, that was hardly Cheney’s fault. Having worked as a White House summer intern for Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1972, I can recount from personal experience what it’s like when the President’s people are at knife’s-edge with the Veep’s. That’s not what it was like in the Bush years, certainly not in the first term. Bush’s second term was different for many reasons, marked notably in foreign affairs by the overwhelming predominance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But even then, Cheney’s relations with the NSC staff remained close, in large part because Rice’s successor as National Security Adviser, Steve Hadley, had worked for Cheney at the Pentagon during the Bush 41 Administration.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Cheney knows that the personal attacks on him, as offensive as they are, in reality constitute stark evidence that Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate. An old lawyers’ cliché says: “If the law is against you, pound on the facts; if the facts are against you, pound on the law; if the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table.” Obama and his supporters are doing the political equivalent of continuous table-pounding, because that’s basically all they have to offer. Cheney’s unwillingness to be deterred by the media assaults on his character, his judgment and his performance in office are therefore his most impressive force multiplier with the general public. Outside-the-Beltway Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.

Cheney’s quiet, inner-directed motivation is simply impervious to the attacks orchestrated against him by the Chicago machine-style politicians at the White House, a fact also plainly visible to his fellow citizens. And it is yet another important reason to have confidence that Cheney’s solid policy analysis will yet prevail in the national political arena. Of course he is the conservative of the year!

So there you have it-well, congratulations to former VP Cheney! Thanks for your support over this year VP readers! In 2010 we expect to have some big developments with Vice-Precedence and we will be sure to keep you-our loyal readers informed. Please, in this upcoming new year of 2010 make sure to keep following us here on the blog, post comments both here and on Facebook (they mean so much to both Jason and myself), and let your friends and family know about Vice-Precedence-keep spreading the word and help us to build an even larger fan base and with your support we will succeed in bringing Vice-Precedence to the big screen.

Join the Race for Second Place in 2010! Here's to a Happy New Year to all of you from us at Vice-Precedence! Thanks for everything.

Matt Saxe

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Save a Health Care Bill

Merry Christmas, Vice-Presidenters. Meet Joe Biden, the harbinger of all things Christmasy. And healthcare reform.

The debate rages on as a seemingly unrecognizable health care bill blazes up Capital Hill for the sake of passing a healthcare bill before Christmas to make the Administration look passionate. Joe himself, in a NY Times op-ed yesterday, pleaded with Congress to push this thing through, despite the fact that it is nowhere near what was promised. The biggest hit - there is no public option.

That said, in terms of Vice-Presidenting, Biden has brought it up a notch. In that he's giving op-eds, in office, about reforms he deems important. The language of the piece speaks to both sides of this invisible and incredibly useless aisle. Here are some incredibly truncated, but choice, bits from the piece. of the most historic votes of my 36 years in the Senate...
...fundamental, essential change that opponents of reform have resisted for generations...
...Theodore Roosevelt... does not contain every measure President Obama and I wanted... is very good.
...this country’s single largest deficit-reduction measure in a dozen years.
It's easy to pick apart the soft language of politics, so I won't bother with it. What I will point out is that this bill has been doomed to fail from the beginning - perhaps rightly so. Any challenge to an administration that promises not to deal with lobbyists, then makes a back-room/public/back-room deal with Big Pharma is a positive one, even if it starts us at square one. Yes, the Administration would like a magical health care bill under everyone's Christmas tree. But the bill's imperfect nature began when the Administration of Change promised "Universal Healthcare" with no qualifiers and then shook hands with Pharma.

Regardless, Biden is a handy mouthpiece for getting this legislation through. And the Obama Administration has stressed the importance of baby steps, especially in something so sweeping. So, in terms of Vice Presidents, Biden is doing a fair job, and I'm sure they edited out all of his crazy gaffes from the op-ed, so he comes across well-spoken, intelligent and thoughtful. Not to say that other white people aren't well-spoken, it was just an observation. Seriously.

Jason C. Klamm, B.A.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vice-Precedence Brings Attention to Famed VP's TV Show

On July 11, 2007, I discovered an historical oversight on the Internet Movie Database. Nowhere was there ANY mention of a show from 1953 called "Meet the Veep." Historical for many reasons, including being the only show to ever be hosted by a former Vice President, Alben Barkley, it was frustrating to see that no one had seen this interesting fact and submitted it for IMDB's approval. And then, it was rejected.

How and why, I couldn't be sure. I was frustrated, to say the least, but I've argued with IMDB before, and they bend only mentions in major publications. I recall submitting a Time magazine article - the only online mention I could find (yet another weakness of IMDB's regulations), but to no avail.

Then today, I checked my IMDB account JUST to see how some of my old submitted titles were doing. Old submitted titles usually gather dust, so I expected nothing. Then I saw these words:
In the time since you originally added "Meet the Veep" (1953) via this update, it has been approved by the new title managers and is live on the site.
Finally, a teeny-tiny bit of vindication - web vindication, but hey, this is a medium that prides itself on having all the information you could ever want - for a man who is arguably one of the greatest speakers in Senate history, and one of only a handful of VPs to ever go back to the Senate as a Senator, Alben W. Barkley. You can find the page here.

- Jason C. Klamm

(And a quick congrats to Matt on the kind of dedication only us VP-obsessives can muster. Great article, and great job.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vice-Precedence Meets Sarah Palin

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers! Here's the story I promised you yesterday. My meeting with former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska!

It started the night before, when I went and picked up my copy of her new autobiography-"Going Rogue" at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America. I had pre-ordered it 3 weeks before while taking my daughter Caitlin to the mall for her birthday-luckily its just across from the Build-A-Bear there, so it was just a quick detour. So on Sunday the 6th I went to the Mall where I was met by friend of the film-Chris Mogel, who took some pictures of me with the book-after we were told that we couldn't take pics in the store-we took them outside. Unlike at certain stores where people camped out overnight to be first in line to get autographs, the Mall of America does NOT allow people to do this. Fans would have to wait until the next morning at 5AM before they could get in line to go into the mall for the signing-that would start at 12noon! So I thanked Chris, who promised me he would send the pics of me with the book that night (which he did) and I would be back the next morning. When I got home-I started reading "Going Rogue". Its pretty easy reading-and I will talk about it more in another blog, and then went to sleep so I could get up early for the next day.

I woke at around 4:35 AM and got dressed, took some vitamins and juice, and went out the door to make the 25 minute drive to the Mall-there was no traffic and it was pitch black-but in my own neighborhood I drove slowly-good thing too-because I saw a big doe to the right of my car-so I turned on my brights and stopped. Good thing too-since another deer ran up to my car-within about 7 feet, and turned around and ran in the opposite direction just as I did. Too close for comfort. I proceeded to drive slowly and carefully looking for deer and other animals on the road to avoid hitting them until I got on the highway-where I turned on the speed.

When I arrived outside the Malls east entrance I could see the line already forming outside in 18 degree cold going around the corner of the mall. So I parked my car, and grabbed my copy of the book and joined the line-the time was 5:15 AM. The cold was simply bone-chilling. I could feel my feet slowly freezing and tried to move my toes as much as I could and press against my ears with my hands to keep them warm. Other people in line also did their best to keep warm and made small talk about how excited they were to be there. I mostly just made jokes about the cold and looked around. I decided I wouldn't ask questions about Gov. Palin and vice-presidents or politics until I'd gotten to know the people around me a little better and more importantly-until we were indoors, warmer, and in a better mood, as the crowd was beginning to get a little antsy about it. Many were outright angry when they saw a young family with a small child-about 1 year old-maybe younger-crying and screaming in the cold.
"Like that kid is going to remember anything about this." I heard one man mutter.

TV crews and reporters were running around-shooting the line and commenting for the early morning news. People waved to the cameras and cheered.

I too was getting impatient about the cold-and my feet by now were numb. When I overheard a guy in a homemade t-shirt with a donkey on it say:

"Its named Don Quixote-you know-for that Mexican philosopher." and no one corrected him-except me to the people around me-I just wanted to do whatever I could to get out of the cold.

Finally, slowly, the line began to move-we all knew from the rules passed out that they wouldn't open the door to let us in until 6AM. So I constantly looked at my watch. Slowly at around 5 after 6AM the line began to move. Finally I and the people around me got near the front. They let people in in groups of 20, and wouldn't you know a group of people were led in-I was told I was #21 and wouldn't get in until the next group. So I had to wait an extra 10-15 minutes outside before being allowed in. Finally at around 6:50 or so, I was allowed in. We were led into the mall-me and the 19 people behind me, led by security all through the mall to the back of the line.

The signing would start at noon-5 hours more to wait.

As this line moved slowly once again to get the bracelets we needed for autographs, I began to warm up and as I got warmer and talked with the people around me, I began to feel comfortable enough to ask questions. I decided that I would ask people the same 4 to 5 questions-letting their answers lead into more if necessary.

1. What brought you out this morning-why do you like Gov. Palin so much?

2. Is there any specific policy stand of hers you truly believe in?

3. Were you going to vote for Senator McCain regardless of who he tapped as his VP candidate? Did Gov. Palin make a difference to you?

4. What vice-presidents who NEVER became President can you name besides our 2 most recent-Cheney and Gore?

5. What do you think of the Vice-Presidency in general?

I asked about a dozen different people these questions-always telling them that I was doing it for my book, blog and movie about the Vice-Presidency. Most people laughed at that-but agreed to answer my questions. I asked young people-college kids, an older couple who had driven all the way from Duluth for the signing, an attractive 20-something blonde and her boyfriend (who smirked during the questions and didn't answer them himself), and a few other people-trying to get as wide a spectrum of people as possible. I looked for any minority people=but to be honest, I saw only one Asian girl in her twenties, and absolutely no African Americans or Hispanics in line. Everyone there was mostly Caucasian-though there was a wide range of ages-from children to their 70's.

For Question 1 most people said that they just found her incredibly charismatic-that they liked her style and straight-talk and found her as one woman put it-"An amazing woman."

For Question 2 most people couldn't cite anything specific. Although one man in his late 20's, who said he considered himself a "conservative with libertarian beliefs in government." said he liked how she modeled her small govt. principles on Ronald Reagan. The 20-something blonde said it was Palins pro-life beliefs that she identified with the most-"She's just an incredible model for pro-life values and a smart, strong, conservative woman." she said.

For Question 3 every single person said they were going to vote for McCain anyway-regardless of who he chose for his VP. Though two people did say that they weren't excited about him, until he chose Gov. Palin as his running mate-and as they learned more about her, the more they liked her and got enthusiastic about the ticket. The blonde became a McCain/Palin volunteer and went out and raised money and actively campaigned. Almost everyone said they couldn't stand President Obama. One said that they thought President Obama-"a disease" who "needs to be destroyed-and no I don't mean that I want him assassinated."

For Question 4, no one could name a VP besides Gore and Cheney who wasn't president at first. One man said-"Hopefully never that idiot Biden."

Another man asked me-"Who was Eisenhower's vice-president? He was never President right?" When I informed him it was Richard Nixon, he paused and said-"Oh yeah, I forgot-well he became President so I guess he doesn't count." Finally the husband of a couple in their late 60's said: "Dan Quayle". I then said to a group of 4 people-

"You know you're all Minnesotans and you're forgetting a couple." I was then told by a different blonde 20-something from the first one that she was from Wisconsin, but then a young man blurted out:

"Oh! Walter Mondale!"

Then a woman in her early 70's said "Oh, and Humphrey, of course." I confirmed these two correct answers and reminded them that both of these former VP's had also been their party's nominee for President. They asked me to name some others, and I immediately responded with Aaron Burr and the story of the election of 1800 with the tie between him and Jefferson and the order of ascension which led into Question 5.

For Question 5, most people said the Vice-Presidency was something that was necessary, but not important at all. No one wanted to do away with it, but almost all agreed that it really didn't matter much at all.

While asking the questions and waiting and waiting, I flipped through the book, made small talk, and observed the surroundings: I saw many different sweatshirts with messages such as:

Palin 2012
Palin/Bachmann 2012
Palin/Pawlenty 2012
Veterans for Palin
Hockey Moms for Palin
PH.d Moms for Palin
Cougar Hunters for Palin.

I don't think anymore needs to be said about that last one.

The hours passed and I showed my book and receipt from Barnes and Noble to the clerks in front of the table at the rotunda in the East Part of the Mall in front of and to the left of the bookstore where a stage had been set up between two huge Christmas trees decorated in white, blue, and silver. It was on this stage that Gov. Palin would do the signing. I then had a blue bracelet placed on my left wrist, and was lead around to the line again. Reporters and others with blue "MEDIA" stickers shot footage of the line, and even interviewed some in line. By this time it was 11:35 or so, and all of a sudden some applause started, and I saw a older couple with a slightly younger woman walk into the area. Buzz started around us. I looked at the couple carefully, and then flipped to one of the two color photo sections of "Going Rogue" and looked for a specific picture. Yes. I was right, not 15 feet away from me, Palins parents-Chuck and Sally Heath, along with a woman who turned out to be "Sarah's Aunt Kate" as she said, were posing for pictures and shaking hands. I had agreed to get an extra book signed for a young man who was in line with me, since you were limited to two, and in exchange he would take some pictures for me with his camera-since I am too poor to have one except my cell phone cam-which, frankly, sucks. So his aunt held my book, and this young man-Bryan Herschbach, and I went over and I waited patiently and then walked up and stuck out my hand and said:

"Hi Mr. Heath. Thanks for coming out here today."

"Hi, its great to be here. Nice to meet you. Whats your name?"

"Matt, sir. Thanks for doing this."

"You're very welcome Matt, thanks for coming out and I hope you have a great day."
and he shook my hand. He couldn't have been friendlier. We got two photos. I was thrilled and after I got back to the line called Jason to let him know the good news.

So, we knew she'd be arriving shortly. We overheard some girls nearer to the front of us began to chant:

"We love Sarah yes we do, we love Sarah how 'bout you?!"

Then there was a quick burst of applause and we knew she had arrived. The line began to move very quickly and orderly-despite a few people cutting-we knew that where we were and the fact that she would be signing from Noon to 4PM, that we would get autographs. We made our way to the main line, and went thru a quick security check. By this time, we could clearly see Gov. Palin and next to her, her husband Todd. She was wearing her classic red outfit, and her hair was up-right out of "SNL"-she was standing up, signing with a flourish, and giving out handshakes and hugs as cameras flashed all around her. The line moved quickly, and all of a sudden I was putting my cell phone in a little basket and getting ready to go on the stage and meet the governor and former VP candidate.

Bryan and his aunt Renee moved ahead of me up the stairs, after handing their books to someone to be passed up to be signed. Meaning that you may not get the book that you bought signed, but you would definitely get a signed book. They hugged Mrs. Palin and moved across the stage and down the stairs. Finally I was given the go-ahead and made my way across the stage to right in front of the first woman to receive the Republican nomination for Vice-President of the United States, one of the most polarizing and popular women in the history of American politics.

"Hey how are ya'?! Whats your name?" I heard in that distinctive voice as she looked and smiled right at me and stuck out her hand. I have to admit; she is a very attractive woman in person. She seemed honestly happy to be there and to be doing this. The woman has charisma in person. No doubt about it. Still, it did feel a little surreal. But there she was in the flesh-and there was no going back now.

"I'm Matt Saxe governor, and its an honor to meet you," and I shook her hand, it was very light and dry with a gentle but firm grip. "and you too Mr. Palin." and here I quickly moved my hand to the left and shook hands with Todd Palin-strong and sure.

"I'm producing a documentary about the vice-presidency called "Vice-Precedence" and I would love to interview you for it."

"Oh wow, thats a great idea! How interesting." she said with a big smile as she signed my book with a red marker. Todd then said-"Wow. That's a very cool idea." The assistant to her left then quickly said to me:

"Put in a request at SarahPac dot com."

"SarahPac dot com?" I quickly asked as I was moving across the stage. More people were of course moving in behind me to take my place.

"Thats right-SarahPac dot com." he said.

"Thank you, and thank you Governor and Todd." I said-slipping up by not calling him Mr. Palin. I regretted that.

"You're very welcome. Thanks for coming out Matt!" they both said almost together with big smiles, and Todd waved goodbye as the governor began to sign another book.

That was it, about 5 seconds or so of face time. I got my cell back and looked at the time-1:15 on the dot. She was moving quickly thru the line. But still, it was all worth it. I had met a VP candidate and told her about our film, and I had an autograph to go with it. Awesome. I met up with Bryan and exchanged email addresses to get the pictures. Then went up to the Disney Store to get a few Chanukah gifts for Caitlin, and then went home and had a brief lunch and went to bed. I had been practically on my feet for over 7 hours and was exhausted. I later sent an email requesting an interview to SarahPac that night. Of course I got an automatic message saying that due to the volume of email, it may take awhile to get a reply, so we will see. Now I have written about the whole thing.

There you have it folks. Pictures from Bryan Herschbach and Chris Mogel are above and I am thankful to them for them. I hope you readers will write some comments about this blog, and continue to support Vice-Precedence as we move forward, slowly yes-but forward still to making our film. Please become Fans on Facebook, go to YouTube and rate our videos and post comments on both pages. We really appreciate it. Thanks.

In response to those of you who find this a little too admiring of Governor Palin-let me state this for the record: Sarah Palin MADE HISTORY. That is undeniable truth.

I was impressed by her charisma=not her policies. I am impressed that she can get that many people to buy her book and support her. Just want to say clearly-I'm NOT a supporter of her for higher office or most of her political beliefs-some of the people there who I overheard said abhorrent things that I very much disagreed with-but I was there to observe and report and tried to stay balanced and not confrontational-though in retrospect-I wish I had asked the guy who called Biden an idiot what he thought of Dan Quayle-he was the same guy-if he thinks Biden is an idiot-I wonder what he thinks of Quayle.

I don't admire all of Gov. Palins political beliefs, but I do admire the fact that she has faced a lot of heavy criticism-some fair, some not, and that she has come out swinging. I went to the signing as research and for the experience-and I can truly say, it was all worth it. Also, she was polite-and in this day and age, I admire that in anyone. Thanks for reading.

Matt Saxe

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Courtesy of The Onion - Biden's Latest Gaffe

Thanks again to The Onion for another great slap to the media's face - this time pointing out the media's obsession with calling every little thing Biden does a "gaffe." Watch this great video here.

By the way, brief blog means "working hard on getting the first Vice-Precedence publication finished." More soon.

- Jason C. K lamm, B.A.