Thursday, September 25, 2008

To Battle Yet Again

It was much longer coming than last time, but I see I am going to have to start gearing up again to fight my battle in favor the Electoral College, since the attacks are starting to come. This time it's a Washington Times article. The scenario in this case is one where the election gets thrown to Congress, the House picks Obama and the Senate picks Palin (which is possible in the very unlikely event that it does get thrown to Congress).From the article:

"If this scenario ever happened, it would be like a scene from the movie 'Scream' for Democrats," said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh. "The only thing worse for the Democrats than losing the White House, again, when it had the best chance to win in a generation, but to do so at the hands of Cheney and Lieberman. That would be cruel."

Except that it wouldn't be losing the White House "at the hands of Cheney and Lieberman." Both would only affect the Vice President, since their vote would only count in the Senate (and Cheney's only if Lieberman votes Palin and is the only Democrat who doesn't vote for Obama and Congress, and there are no changes in favor of the Democrats to the makeup of the Senate in its new session). But if Obama becomes President with Palin as his Vice President, this is not 'cruel' for Democrats: the Vice President, beyond some basic constitutional duties, is only as involved in White House policy as the President decides the Vice President will be. There have been Vice Presidents in our history who were never invited to a single Cabinet meeting. If Obama becomes President but Biden fails to become Vice President, the only Democrat who loses out will be Senator Biden.

I'm a little puzzled by this:

there is not complete agreement among constitutional experts on whether a newly elected Congress or the currently sitting House and Senate would make the decision.

But the Constitution is explicit in the case of the House:

if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.

So the House [in the Congress] that counts the Electoral College votes chooses the President. It's the new Congress that counts the votes. The Constitution is not so explicit on the Senate, but it can't choose a Vice President before the Electoral College votes are counted. So am I missing something, or is the Washington Times consulting really horrible constitutional experts?

And this sort of thing always irritates me:

The archaic system in the Constitution was set up in the days of oil lamps and horse-drawn carriages.

Well, yes, so were Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court.

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