Apparently Vice President Cheney seceded from the executive branch in 2004 but no one seemed to notice.
The Los Angeles Times reported the other day that Cheney declared his semi-independence in the 2004 edition of the Plum Book, an annual government directory of senior officials:
“The vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The vice presidency performs functions in both.”
Cheney’s office was good enough to remind the rest of the government of its “unique” position when it refused to comply with a National Archives’ inspection of the classified documents it has in its care and tried to abolish the National Archives unit that made the request.
This was a dramatic departure from the position Cheney took in successfully blocking the names of oil company executives on the task force that shaped the administration’s energy policies. A congressional inquiry into the task force, he said in 2001, “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”
In removing himself and his office from both branches when convenient, Cheney has, wrote Dana Milbank in today’s Washington Post, “declared himself to be neither fish nor fowl but an exotic, extraconstitutional beast who answers to no one,” which is another way of saying he’s the first sitting vice president to put himself above the law since Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton and got away with it.
But come to think of it, Cheney did that too.
As the occupant of both or neither branches, Cheney seems to prefer the executive when it comes to trappings of office. Milbank noted that on Monday, Cheney made the short trip from the White House to the Capitol “escorted by eight police motorcycles, three police cruisers, two armored limousines and five SUVs and minivans packed with aides and armed Secret Service agents.”
Life is good in the Cheney branch of government.