Joe and Dick: Looks Like Everything Went Swimmingly

I can’t tell whether all the giggling was from nervousness or just because Joe and Dick have been in DC for longer than forever.

And Biden’s staff isn’t telling:

"The Vice President-elect and Dr. Jill Biden met with Vice President Cheney and his wife Lynne at the Naval Observatory this evening.  The Bidens thank the Cheneys for welcoming them into their home and for their gracious hospitality," said spokesperson for the Vice President-elect Elizabeth Alexander.  

No giggling from Dick, though. And no word on the man-sized safe, either. 

Dick Invites Joe to See the Man-Sized Safe and Industrial Shredding Machine

I know that it was really neat to see how the Bushes welcomed Barack and Michelle to their new digs. The Obamas looked so glamorous and confident and all that.

But this is the meeting I want to see first-hand:

The Vice President-elect and Dr. Jill Biden have been invited by Vice President Cheney and his wife Lynne to the Naval Observatory on Thursday at 5:15pm for a private meeting and tour of the residence.  The arrival of the Vice President-elect and Dr. Biden will be pooled.  The meeting will be closed press.  An official photo of the Bidens and Cheneys will be released following the meeting. 

I mean, how do you think Jill Biden will respond when Dick tells her husband to go fuck himself?

Fourth Branch Sarah

I’m sort of busy today, preparing for the special Monday Book Salon with Bart Gellman, talking about his book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. The book salon with be at 3PM ET, so prepare your questions. 

But I confess that reading the book after watching the VP Debate the other night made me laugh–rather than shudder–at Palin’s clear hopes of following in the path of Fourth Branch Dick.

IFILL: Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said, you would not be vice president under any circumstances. Now maybe this was just what was going on at the time. But tell us now, looking forward, what it is you think the vice presidency is worth now.


PALIN: No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that’s not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all, and then working with families of children with special needs. That’s near and dear to my heart also. In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that’s where I want you, I want you to lead. I said, I can’t wait to get and there go to work with you.


IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. Read more

VP Debate: Shredding the Constitution v. Duck [sic] Hunting

I wonder if Palin would have had more problems with Dick Cheney’s drunken hunting accident if she knew that he was hunting quail, not duck.

Katie Couric: What do you think is the best and worst thing that Dick Cheney has done as vice president?

Joe Biden: I’m not being a wise guy here … that I don’t know what he’s done. I mean, there’s not many things I’d pick that I thought he’s done that have been good. But I admire his strength. I admire his willingness to take positions that are completely contrary to popular opinion. But I think that what he’s done has been just, I don’t think Dick Cheney trusts that the American people can make judgments that are in the interest of the country. But the thing I think he’s really, really has done: I think he’s done more harm than any other single high elected official in memory in terms of shredding the constitution. You know, condoning torture, pushing torture as a policy. This idea of a unitary executive, meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war, and the president controls everything. I don’t have any animus toward Dick Cheney but I really do think his attitude about the constitution and the prosecution of this war has been absolutely wrong.

Palin: Worst thing, I guess that would have been the duck-hunting accident, where you know, that was an accident. And that I think that was made into a caricature of him. And that was kind of unfortunate.

So, the best thing though, he’s shown support, along with George W. Bush, of our troops. And I’ve been there when George Bush has spoken to families of those who have suffered greatly, those who are serving in the military. I’ve been there when President Bush has embraced those families and expressed the concern and the sympathy speaking for all of America in those times. And for Dick Cheney to have supported that effort of George Bush’s. I respect that.

Then again, two of the things Dick did while quail hunting–doing so without a current license and drinking at an inappropriate time–are things Palin tried to get her former brother-in-law fired for. So I guess, for Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney can do no wrong. 

McCain Campaign So Concerned about Palin, They’ve Forgotten about Joe

The McPalin campaign warns Gwen Ifill they believe it would be unfair of her to hammer foreign policy questions during Thursday’s VP debate.

The moderator will have some questions to answer themselves if they do go so heavily foreign policy.

Not only is this another pathetic example of McPalin trying to play the ref, not only are they forgetting that Palin has been no whiz on domestic policy issues either, but they’re forgetting that Joe Biden is, himself, quite accomplished on domestic policy issues.

Consider the law of which Biden is most proud: the Violence Against Women Act, a law that, among other things, uses federal dollars to coerce states into making localities–like Sarah Palin’s Wasilla–pick up the tab for rape kits. Not to mention made it a lot easier for women to leave abusive relationships and cops to prosecute such abuse.

Or what about the COPS program, which tried to make policing more effective? Given Palin’s current and past problems with law enforcement in her state, Biden’s proactive efforts to improve policing make her look like a thug by comparison.

Or how about Biden’s recent work to make college more affordable–an issue that many of the still-undecided swing voters may value highly? 

Frankly, I’m sort of glad they’ve got Palin sequestered at McCain’s "ranch" cramming about foreign policy. It leaves them unprepared and vulnerable on areas that are just as much Biden’s strength as foreign policy is.

And those areas, particularly this year, are going to sway undecideds more than foreign policy will. 

Update: Meanwhile, the bulldog in lipstick is talking some trash:

“And I do look forward to Thursday night, and debating Senator Joe Biden,’’ said Ms. Palin, whose uneven performance in interviews and unscripted events have sown seeds of doubt in recent days among some conservative commentators who support her.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him, too,’’ she said. “I’ve never met him before, but I’ve been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade.’’

“I have to admit, though, he’s a great debater, and he looks pretty doggone confident, like he’s sure he’s going to win,’’ Ms. Palin, 44, said of Mr. Biden, 65. “But then again, this is the same Senator Biden who said the other day that University of Delaware would trounce the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wrong!”

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The Politics of Resentment

There’s been criticism and applause (both justified) for the way in which Biden has hit on McCain and Palin’s convention performance. But I’m most fascinated by his attack in this video, from 2:11 to 2:44.

Biden: It was about how well placed — and boy she is good — how a left jab can be stuck pretty nice.  It’s about how Barack Obama is such a bad guy.

It’s about how in fact, how in fact, they got great quips.  Man, they’re like the kids you know when you went to school and you were very proud of the new belt or the shoes you had, and there was always one kid in the class who said, "oh, are they your brother’s?"

Crowd: Yeah.

Biden: Remember that kid?  That’s what this is reminding me of.  "Oh, I love your dress, was that your mother’s?"

You know what I’m talking about.

It was fairly tentative, but IMO, a really important attack on Palin especially, though it applies to McCain as well. With this response, Biden flips the structure of resentment the Republicans are trying to use to make Palin untouchable.

Digby has written about the addition of Palin as a reality show or as a Joan of Arc appealing to the resentment of Americans.

It’s very difficult to know how the Jerry Springer stuff is going to play out. It’s never a "good" thing for a politician to have the media drooling and licking their chops over their personal life, but they often not only survive but thrive as a result, depending on the transgression. Edwards betrayed his cancer stricken wife and that’s just too much for most people to bear. Clinton had a few furtive sexual encounters that were exploited by his political enemies which ended up gaining most people’s sympathies. You don’t know where these scandals will go, but you do know that they will distract from the normal coverage of issues and policy. (That, of course, would suit McCain just fine. The last thing he wants is for this campaign to be about issues.)

So, I still don’t know about the effect of Sarah Palin. A lot of this is untrod ground, with her being a female with young kids and a very conservative Christian to boot. Anybody who says they can completely predict the outcome of this "scandal" is fooling herself. This is new territory.

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If You Had Any Doubts Obama Would Be Dominant in this Partnership…


Check out how effectively Obama’s team has managed the potential blowhard (albeit, smart, lovable blowhard), Joe Biden:

Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story.

Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware, with a dad who fell on hard economic times, but who always told me: "Champ, when you get knocked down, get up… get up."

My mother’s creed is the American creed: no one is better than you. You are everyone’s equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

That was America’s promise.

For those of us who grew up in middle class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream – and we knew it.


You can learn an awful lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him, and seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind. But even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart.

I watched how he touched people, how he inspired them, and I realized he has tapped into the oldest American belief of all: we don’t have to accept a situation we cannot bear. We have the power to change it.


The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier – they require a wise leader. A leader who can deliver change. The change everybody knows we need.

Barack Obama will deliver that change.


As we gather here tonight, our country is less secure and more isolated than at any time in recent history. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out.

Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he says there can be no timelines to drawdown our troops from Iraq – that we must stay indefinitely?

Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis – and set a time to bring our combat troops home?

Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.

John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.


Now, it’s our responsibility to meet that challenge. Read more

SJC Mukasey Hearing

I haven’t liveblogged in a while, so what the heck. Watch along here or here.


Leahy starts by highlighting civil liberties violations, naming Bradbury.

We join together to press for accountability and that led to a change in leadership. Today we continue our efforts to restore DOJ.

[Leahy mentions the torture tapes, but focuses on the CIA’s unwillingness to tell the 9/11 Commission.]

Today we will get some kind of indication whether the AG will restore checks and balances. It is not enough to say that waterboarding is not currently authorized. Torture has no place in America. Tragically, this Administration has so twisted our values that top officers are instructed by the WH not to say that torture is illegal.

[Lists the people we’ve prosecuted for waterboarding.]

That is not America.

Arlen "Scottish Haggis" Specter [incidentally, the first person I ran into when I walked into Congress on Monday was Specter, just coming off the floor having voted against cloture. I contemplated thanking him for his no vote. But then I doubted that "Scottish Haggis, I appreciate that you finally voted your conscience" would go over very well.]

Scottish Haggis agrees that Bush has pushed Article II. Discussion torture, still focusing on Article II powers.

Leahy swears Mukasey in.

Mukasey’s statement. Suggests Bush’s stonewalling just a sign of how well the Constitution works. [Remind me to tell you about Schumer’s comment on Mukasey, an attempt to justify his picking him.]

"Committed to review CIA interrogation program. Carefully reviewed limited set of methods authorized, concluded they are lawful. Aware that you address specifically address waterboarding. I have been authorized to say waterboarding is not among techniques currently used. Passing on its legality is not among the scope of what I promised to review."


CIA Director would have to ask to use waterboarding, would have to outline its use, the issue would have to go the President.

Leahy: First question, brings up Ridge’s and McConnell’s comments that waterboarding is torture. Mukasey dodges, says he can’t say anything because he’s AG.

MM: I know that if I address a complex legal question without having concrete circumstances before me, yadda yadda yadda.

Leahy: I think the failure to say something puts some of our people in more danger.

Mukasey: Our military won’t be affect by what I say. They’re legal soldiers.

[Mukasey’s logic here is that we’re allowed to torture people who are illegal combatants.] Read more