John Nance Garner, the 32nd Vice President of the United States, once summed up the office of the Vice President as being “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” But if you were asked about the duties of the Vice President, could you name them? Here is a video of Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin responding to the question of a third-grader — “What does the Vice President do?”

“A Vice President has a really great job because not only are they there to support the President’s agenda, they’re, like, the team member — the team mate — to that President, but also they’re in charge of the United States Senate. So if they want to, they can really get in there with the Senators, and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon, and his family, and his classroom. And it’s a great job, and I look forward to having that job.”

This hands-on approach to the Senate is getting some people on the left upset, as reported on the completely impartial and non-biased *snicker* news organ, CNN:

The comments have drawn criticism from Democrats and liberal blogs which note the actual role of the vice president when it comes to the Senate is simply to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event of a stalemate. According to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president is the “President” of the Senate, but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber.

Donald Ritchie, a historian in the Senate Historical Office, told CNN that Palin’s comment was an “overstatement” of what her role would be.

“The vice president is the ceremonial officer of the Senate and has certain ceremonial functions including swearing in new senators and can vote to break a tie,” he said. “It’s a relatively limited role. It’s evolved into a neutral presiding officer of the Senate.

Ritchie also noted recent vice presidents have played a behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration’s policies, but called it “somewhat limited.”

Let’s read exactly what the Constitution says on the role of the Vice President, as it relates to the Senate:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

That’s it. Notice how the article does acknowledge that the VP is the President of the Senate, but does so by putting it in quotes, like the VP isn’t really President, the VP is only “President.” (Free tip for Alexander Mooney and other aspiring journalists: scare quotes have no place in a serious news story. You’re welcome.) Anyway, the learned opinion of Mooney continues: “but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber” as if that were actually stated in the Constitution itself. But as you can see, it isn’t.

The VP is free to be as hands-on or hands-off the Senate’s day-to-day activities as he or she desires. The only official responsibility a VP has is to cast the tie-breaking vote, but what stops the VP from mingling with the Senators and persuading them to vote one way or other? The only thing that would stop the VP from doing that is the VP. Did you notice that historian Donald Ritchie admitted as much in his above quote, about how recent VPs have played a “behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration’s policies”? I see that as being exactly what Palin is talking about when she said a VP could really “get in there with the Senators.” And interestingly enough, she isn’t the only person who claims that power.

The same article quotes the Democrat Vice President candidate, Joe Biden, as saying pretty much the same thing as Palin: “I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person actually implementing Barack Obama’s policy. You gotta get the Congress to go along with it.” And how exactly do you get the Congress to do that? Well, you could try to “really get in there” with them.

Palin says it, and CNN responds that she is misstating the role of Vice President. I can envision them murmuring, “Dumb ol’ Sarah.” But Biden makes a similar statement, and there is no sanctimonious head-shaking at his comment over at CNN. That’s why I have to laugh every time I think of CNN’s claim to be impartial and non-biased in their reporting.

Frankly, if I were given the choice between a CNN interview or a bucket of warm piss, I’d take the bucket.

Joe Wurzelbacher has rocketed from obscurity and into the media’s baleful gaze after Senator Obama answered his question about Obama’s stated plan to tax Americans making $250,000 a year or more. In case you missed it, here’s a snippet of the exchange as discussed on Fox News:

Both Senators McCain and Obama talked about Joe the Plumber during their last debate, leading some people to declare Joe the winner of the debate. Since the video of their discussion hit the media and Internet, Joe Wurzelbacher is getting his 15 minutes of fame, and good for him. But there is a darker side to his vault into fame — the left is directing its efforts at finding out everything it can about who Joe is.

It’s already apparent now, but just continue to watch — you’ll notice that more and more reports will come out of the media about who Joe is, all in an effort to tear him down. You may even hear some of these attacks repeated at work or by friends. You could discuss each attack one by one, but there’s no need. You only need to repeat one phrase:

The messenger is not the message.

It really doesn’t matter who Joe Wurzelbacher is. What matters is the question he asked, the answer that Senator Obama gave him, and the clear insight into Obama’s politics. And doesn’t it strike you as odd that the political left is focusing so heavily on the questioner, when it is the answer that really matters?

UPDATE (10/18/2008 9:11:09 AM): As I expected, Joe the Plumber was addressed on the open discussion whiteboard at work. One person started listing talking points, and another pointed to them and wrote that with problems like that, “he shouldn’t be allowed” to discuss taxes.

Not allowed? Not allowed?!? It’s called Freedom of Speech, folks. Look it up, if it doesn’t sound familar to you.

In September, Senator Obama said the following to a crowd in Elko, Nevada:

“I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” he said.

I initially thought this comment was rather thuggish on Obama’s part. After all, the mainstream media is firmly in his camp, so getting his philosophy out there shouldn’t be that big of a concern for him. But I didn’t think that Obama supporters would really do it.

Then my wife pointed out something she noticed on a craft-related site — posts about hand-crafted pro-Obama or anti-Bush items usually get at least polite responses, even if they’re along the lines of “Love the idea. But he’s not who I’m voting for.” But when someone posts a hand-crafted McCain/Palin shirt, the responses were certainly “in their face,” enough that a moderator had to jump in several times and remove abrasive comments.

Is this proof that Obama fans are meaner than McCain fans? No. These are merely three samples, and the plural of anecdote is not data. What we have here are polite responses from people who disagree politically on the one hand, and on the other hand enough seething rage to require moderator intervention. It’s not proof, just a few points of data. One of the points of data is a political candidate asking for his supporters to “get in their face.” But I’m sure this rage is merely a coincidence.

Coincidence or not, enough people have spotted this rage on the part of leftists that it has a name, “Bush Derangement Syndrome,” and its recent viral twin, “Palin Derangement Syndrome.” It’s odd that I don’t see this seething anger on the conservative side. Even during the worst of President Clinton’s scandals, I didn’t hear many conservatives boiling over in rage. It’s true that many conservatives disapproved of his behavior or the policies he proposed, but those dislikes didn’t, for the most part, translate into a personal hatred of Bill Clinton the man. But I have observed a visceral hatred of conservatives in general and President Bush in specific from numerous people on the left.

Not everyone sees it that way. Paul Krugman says he is frightened by the specter of rage on the right: “Something very ugly is taking shape on the political scene: as McCain’s chances fade, the crowds at his rallies are, by all accounts, increasingly gripped by insane rage. It’s not just a mob phenomenon — it’s visible in the right-wing media, and to some extent in the speeches of McCain and Palin.” Really? What rage is that? Can you show me pictures or video to demonstrate this rage? At most there are people shouting out words like “traitor” and “terrorist” at Senator Obama at rallies for the McCain/Palin ticket. But where is the rage?

If you want to see graphic examples of rage, Michelle Malkin has compiled some on her site. (Warning: some are profanity-rich and graphic.) Malkin also nails this idea of rage from the right in a recent syndicated editorial:

Are a few activists on the Right getting out of hand? Probably. Between massive ACORN voter fraud, Bill Ayers’ and Jeremiah Wright’s unrepentant hatred of America, and John McCain’s inability to nail Barack Obama on his longtime alliances with all of the above, conservatives have plenty to shout about these days.

But a couple of random catcallers do not a “mob” make. And there’s an overflowing abundance of electoral rage on the Left that won’t make it onto your newspaper’s front page.

She then goes on to list some of the rage from the left — not that you’re likely to hear about it in the nightly news or read it in newspaper because it’s not news. After all, the news media knows that leftist rage is justified because many of them share that rage. Besides, if they don’t report it, it’s not news, right?

“I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” said Senator Obama. The order has been heard and is being obeyed. So which group is filled with rage? My guess is that they’ll be getting in your face very soon.

There is an old saying that children should be seen and not heard. I’m guessing it comes from the Victorian era, but I would love to see it apply to American ex-Presidents, especially Democrats since they seem to have an especially hard time keeping their yaps shut. To prove the point, here is a comment made by one-term President Jimmy Carter while overseas:

Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the “atrocious economic policies” of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Carter told reporters on a stopover in Brussels that “profligate spending,” massive borrowing and dramatic tax cuts since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 were behind the market turmoil and economic crisis.

“I think it’s because of the atrocious economic policies of the Bush administration,” said the 84-year-old Democrat, who served in the White House from 1977-1981 during a period of high inflation and energy crisis.

First, former American presidents are just that: former. Think “has been” or “old news” to get the full picture.

Second, the current turmoil comes from housing problems, not spending, borrowing or tax cuts. To lay the blame at President Bush’s feet is naive at best, and utterly dishonest at worst.

Third, the housing problems we are currently experiencing can be traced to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, signed into law by *drumroll* President Jimmy Carter himself. Granted, it took another Democrat president (*cough* President Clinton *cough*) to really get it rolling in 1995, with the added bonus of Democrat mismanagement in Congress to upgrade the housing problem from the “meh” level to its current status of “HOLY #$%@ COW!”

Finally, it is clear from President Carter’s comments that he doesn’t adhere to the standard that internal politics end at the nation’s shores. We can argue all we want at home, but once we go abroad, we close ranks and stand united as Americans. Seems he’s more than willing to score political points in a foreign land by repeating Democrat lying talking points.

So I’m for amending the old saying — children, and has-been Presidents, should be seen and not heard.