I suggested last night that until the election, we could very easily wind up doing a Special Comment here every show.
It was in turn suggested to me that while events may warrant them, this would certainly render that word "Special" for two weeks anyway inoperative.
Good point. So tonight, as promised, a Campaign Comment on the continuing adventures of Governor Sarah Palin in the big leagues or "Are You Smarter Than A Third Grader."
Q: Finally governor we've been trying to engage some local grade schoolers for the last few elections. We do a feature called ‘questions from the third grade.' Brandon Garcia wants to know, "What does the Vice President do?"
PALIN: Aw, that's something that Piper would ask me, as a second grader, also. That's a great question, Brandon, and a Vice President has a really great job, because not only are they there to support the President agenda, they're like a team member, the teammate 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.
Oh! I'm so sorry, Governor! The correct answer can be found in the Constitution of the United States.
Article One, Section Three— "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." So, the Vice President is not in charge of Jack, Governor, let alone in charge of the Senate. And you are not smarter than a third-grader.
On the one level it is hilarious and entertaining that the Republican nominee cannot correctly answer the question "What Does The Vice President Do?" I mean, that first reference to the Vice President comes not 600 words into the Constitution. And the other meaty references are pretty simple:
Article Two, Section One —"In case of the removal of the President from Office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President."
There's the 20th Amendment— you're done on January 20th and the 25th Amendment —if the President's incapacitated, you're the acting Pres. It's so simple, really, one could memorize those four points pretty easily wouldn't take long.
Brandon Garcia could do it in the third grade. So, on the one level, this is pretty damn silly. The Sarah Palin material, as Tina Fey might be able to say, just writes itself. As it does, it makes stupid mistakes, but it still writes itself.
Except there are two very serious aspects to this. Governor, do you really think you'd be "in charge of the United States Senate?" Do you really want to suggest that you think if you "want to" you "can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes?"
We're just wrapping up eight years of a Vice President who had no clue what his damned job consisted of, couldn't even correctly find his governmental branch with both hands.
The last thing anybody in this country wants, Republican or Democrat, is another Buccaneer in there, making it up as they go along, and, in your case, presuming you can stride in to the Senate and change policy if you want to! Besides which, Governor, exactly how on earth could you not have the correct answer by now?
It's not like this is the first time you've been asked about the Vice Presidency and gone all Miss South Carolina on us.
LARRY KUDLOW: Is this police-flap state investigation going to disqualify you from becoming Senator McCain's vice presidential candidate?
PALIN: As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I'm used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.
That was on the 31st of July on CNBC, Governor. Even giving you the biggest benefit of the doubt, that your later claim that that was just a lame attempt at a joke you couldn't come up with the correct job description on the second try? What am I saying? The third try!
GWEN IFILL (OCTOBER 2, 2008): Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day.
PALIN: In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it...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 that 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.
No! No, Governor, the Constitution does not allow "a bit more authority" "if the vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate..." You would not be some kind of Senatorial Hall Monitor. You would not be a Veto, or a Censor, or a Balance.
And even if you think you would somehow obtain those powers from somebody, don't pretend the Constitution will give them to you!
PALIN: That thankfully, our founders were wise enough to say, we have this position and it's Constitutional. Vice presidents will be able to be not only the position flexible, but it's going to be sort of those other duties as assigned by the president. It's a simple thing. I don't think that was a gaff at all in stating what the truth is. And that is we've got flexibility in the position. The president will be directing in a lot of respects what the vice president does. The vice president, of course, is not a member—or a part of the legislative branch, except to oversee the Senate. That alone provides a tremendous amount of flexibility and authority if that vice president so chose to use it.
You're wrong! You've memorized everything else, Governor. You couldn't memorize the job description in three months? Four tries? I mean, I'd like my President and Vice President to have memorized the Constitution, and abide by it. Or at least, I'd like them to know more about the Constitution than I do. Or than Brandon Garcia does. Maybe I'm raising the bar too high but at least wait until you achieve office before trying to seize power extra-Constitutionally!
"The founders" were not George Bush and Dick Cheney! Gimme something to work with here, Governor or go home! And don't forget to take your lovely parting gifts with you. Including the Home Version of The Vice President Game.
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