Sunday Aug. 24, 2008 11:34 EDT(updated below - Update II)
Writing in a New York Times blog yesterday, Clinton pollster Mark Penn hails the selection of Joe Biden as "a smart and successful choice" and says this:
From Al Gore on, the role of the vice president seems to have fundamentally changed. It used to be where the winner parked the loser or some other figure that he wanted to neutralize. Now, with the centralization of government power in the White House, the vice president has become essentially a Cabinet head. Indeed, the last two vice presidents have had real portfolios and responsibilities, second only to the president.That we live in a country characterized by "the centralization of government power in the White House" -- exactly what the Constitution was designed to prevent -- is now so self-evident that it's not even debated or contested any longer. A virtually omnipotent President is just an assumed fact of American political life, and the reason that there is such a fixation on the personality and "character" traits of the presidential candidates is because Our President is now, in essence, our Emperor, empowered unilaterally to do everything from attacking other countries to acting outside of and above the law. As Penn's analysis illustrates, our political establishment isn't bothered by that at all, but instead, just tacitly accepts it as the natural and desired state of things.