Vice President Joe Biden got the big headlines over the weekend, with his Meet the Press comments on same-sex marriage. He was quoted everywhere. There was much talk of how this fit (or didn’t fit) with the administration’s official ideology:
I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights — all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.
But immediately prior to the above, he said this: “I am vice president of the United States of America; the president sets the policy.”
And that’s where I begin to wonder.
It could be he’s only saying that he’s second banana in the administration (if even that high in the banana tree), and that he can’t speak for the top banana.
But too often, these days, when people talk about the president “setting the policy” or “making decisions” (remember George W. Bush’s self-description as “The Decider”?) they seem to suggest something approaching a dictatorship by the president. What the head man says goes.
That’s what Biden’s statement does more than imply.
According to the Constitution, on the other hand, Congress sets policy. Not the president. The legislative power is concentrated in the House and the Senate.
Biden’s kind of loose talk is an artifact of what’s called the “imperial presidency.” Leadership (and followership) of both parties have pushed it. It has a long history.
I don’t know about you, but it gives me a lot more concern than the idea of two dudes marrying.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.