Here it is, Sarah Palin: A Job Description for Vice President

with 10 comments

There’s not really much to it. But since you don’t know what the Vice President does (see video, below) we’ll tell you. According to the U.S. Constitution, the Vice-President serves only two real functions. One is to become U.S. President in the event of the President’s death or resignation. The second VP duty is to act as President of the U.S. Senate — casting a tie-breaking vote in the event of a deadlock, and certifying the official vote count of the U.S. electoral college.

But, since your job description could soon find you living the proverbial ‘one heartbeat away from the presidency,’ you may also want to familiarize yourself with the President’s job description (printed, in entirety, at the bottom of this post). While the job description for U.S. President is a bit wordier than the job description for Vice President. the good news is that, technically, the Constitution does not disqualify you from applying for the job. 

The resumes of most, if not all, former Vice-Presidents over the past 50 years included a law degree and/or military service and/or enough experience in the U.S. Senate or Congress to capably perform these duties. Even Dan Quayle, with whom you’ve been unfairly compared, had a law degree and was twice-elected to both the U.S. Congress and Senate before being chosen for the VP slot. Still, Ms. Palin, you needn’t be intimidated. While there is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a person of your credentials serving as Vice President, it is theoretically possible for a third-grader to to perform the actual duties of Vice-President. Your lack of education and/or experience with constitutional law shouldn’t be much of an impediment to serving, so long as the President doesn’t die or resign. 

The Vice-Presidency according to Sarah Palin, July 31, 2008

Regarding constitutional law, there are many in this country — myself included — who felt a certain thrill this past May, when Sen. Obama announced that, during his first 100 days in office, “I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.” Being a Harvard law school graduate, and serving as the president of the Harvard Law Review, and teaching constitutional law for 12 years affords him the credentials to not only aspire to such a task, but to undertake it with some competency. Indeed, some would rightfully claim that the six years Obama served in the Illinois State Senate, followed by nearly 4 years in the U.S. Senate, only add these credentials. (see more on this topic in the comments section, below)

Since you claim to have not “really focused much on the war in Iraq,” Ms. Palin, it seems a safe bet that you’ve also not really “focused much” on the fact that, for the past 8 years, our forefathers have surely been roiling in their graves as they witnessed the spirit and the letter of U.S. constitutional law being shredded in the hands of the Bush Administration. Our forefathers were not alone in their roiling. There are many living, breathing Americans out here who mourn and anguish over the loss of integrity to the most fundamental and cherished foundations of our country — the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights — as laid by our forefathers.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of a President being well-versed in the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law. After all (and you may hear tale of this in the coming days) the oath of office for President of the United States includes the following words: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Which is sort of tough to do, if you don’t know anything about it. Too, you’d be surprised at how often the U.S. Constitution comes up during the course of this business: appointing cabinet members, ambassadors and Supreme Court judges; meeting with leaders of foreign countries; making treaties; proposing new laws, and so on. 

There are some citizens in this country — including some of our most important historic figures — who devoted years of their lives to studying this great document that we call the U.S. Constitution. Barack Obama is one of those people. Perhaps, between mooseburgers, you could familiarize yourself with this document, beginning with the qualifications and job description for the President — a job for which you are uniquely unqualified — if nothing else, by simple virtue of the fact that you have the poor judgement to apply for a job whose description is as foreign to you as are the laws governing the 300+ million people you propose to lead. 

UPDATE (10/22/08): See updated VP job description here: Sarah’s Job Description for Vice-President, Part II (Checkpoint Chickie Rides Again)


by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers


The U.S. Constitution: Article 2 – The Executive Branch

  Section 1.


No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

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, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

  Section 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

  Section 3.

 He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

  Section 4.

The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.



10 Responses

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  1. standing ovation for this post


    September 4, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  2. This piece is awesome and should be sent to her stat.!

    No hockey mom's in FL

    September 4, 2008 at 3:57 pm

  3. Let’s see if I understand this. Your argument that just because Obama has a law degree, he is better qualified to interpret the constitution which was written and approved by a majority of non-lawyers. Get your head out of your ass and see what’s going on in America!

    s yelton

    September 7, 2008 at 9:06 pm

  4. Editor’s response: You bring up a valid point, s yelton. People do need to get their heads out of their asses and see what’s going on in America. I’d argue that we, at the canarypapers, do not fall into that category, but you’re entitled to your opinion. Your point about lawyers and the constitution would also be valid, except that we live in a more complex world than the world of our constitution’s drafters and signers. Wishing otherwise or living within a shield of complacent ignorance won’t change this fact. Believe me, we’ve tried.

    Specifically, we live in a world where our own vice-president, in partnership with a shrewdly astute legal mind named David Addington, managed to exploit an inherent weakness in the U.S. Constitution, thereby granting Cheney powers and authority that are both separate from and greater than the executive, judicial or legislative branches — powers and authority that were never intended by our forefathers or anyone since. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, regarding the liberties Cheney has taken with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Dick Cheney is a monarchy and a dictatorship rolled into one — a rogue nations, of sorts — under which our executive, legislative and judicial branches ‘operate,’ with no small degree of intimidation.

    Morever, Cheney, Addington, et al, have removed the checks and balances that were designed to prevent men like them from waging these assaults and taking such control. Worse, still, they’ve granted this Administration lifetime immunity from prosecution for these assaults AND for the crimes — many of them war crimes — made possible through their clever legal maneuvers with the U.S. Constitution. And, make no mistake, these are crimes. Some have called it treason.

    Sure, our forefathers had men like Benedict Arnold, but the remedy was much simpler then. Oh, that Washington’s troops could simply chase Cheney down the Hudson and drive him out of our country. But we live in more complex times.

    My argument was not that Obama’s law degree makes him better qualified to interpret the constitution, per se, although I believe this is true. My argument was that — unlike a sad number of politicians in this country — Obama does NOT have his head up his ass, regarding the assaults that have taken place on our constitution. I join the many, many Americans — including many in the judicial and legislative branches of our government, from both sides of the aisle — who would like to see our Constitution restored to its pre-Cheney glory. Until this happens, the flag we honor waves over a democracy that no longer quite exists, except in myth.

    I discusssed all of this in more detail in our post, “A REVIEW OF THE BIG SPEECH: When is a little knowledge dangerous? When it’s Sarah Palin.” If you’re the sort that already has your mind made up about McCain and Palin, fine. I would nonetheless hope that all Americans, no matter who their candidates of choice, would heed your advice: take their heads out of their asses and see what’s going on in America. Regarding a person’s qualifications for president or vice-president, each voter is entitled to make his or her own best judgment on this. Having seen the outcome of placing a shrewd business executive at the helm for the past 8 years — and I’m referring here to Cheney — I would like to see a return to the order of law. Our country is already so influenced by big business, that our very laws are literally being written by corporate lobbyists. I would not be inclined to vote for a candidate’s business (executive) credentials, per se, unless those credentials were stellar, squeaky clean and of clear integrity.

    These are but a few of my many concerns for this country. It saddens me that the assessment of our national leaders has become more like buying a new car, with our presidential campaigns little more than a popularity contest, embedded with hot-button non-issues, and seeded with silly arguments over superficial nothings — Who’s the more exciting candidate? With whom would we rather have a beer? is he black enough? is he too black? is she pretty? is his wife pretty enough? what’s going on with Joe Biden’s hair? — instead of a factual appraisal of the leaders being offered. Too often, the American public’s “facts” are gleaned from their opinions — not the other way around.

    I’d be willing to bet that, if asked, many Americans would be at a loss to explain their candidate’s platform, and could only offer — at best — a few generic campaign slogans or sound-bites echoed from something they heard on TV. It saddens me that Americans own so little of the truth, having (in good faith, or not) spent the past 8 years with their heads up their asses, to the extent that they treat this race with the gravity of a student council election. Our government body, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights have undergone radical changes over the past 8 years, the likes of which most Americans are unaware and would be incredulous to believe. It saddens me that we live in such a paparazzi culture, that intellect and intelligence are sneered at, defined as “elitism,” deemed as suspect and, ultimately, used as weapons to discredit a candidate. It saddens me that our national dialogue has been dummied-down to the level that we expect our politicians to reflect the lowest common denominator, and to cater their message to accommodate the shortest possible attention span. Politicians, such as Barack Obama, who are guilty of intelligent, careful and deliberate thought processes are ridiculed or accused of being out of touch with “ordinary Americans,” or of “talking down” to them. Our forefathers may not have all been lawyers, but they all had much in common with Barack Obama, as they were brilliant men, who spoke to the higher selves and the higher intellects of ordinary Americans. Who are we trying to protect here — our country or our egos?

    Mostly, I am saddened that so little real attention is given to questions of real and urgent importance, primarily: “Whose platform, whose issues speak to the real needs of America?” But, also, “Who has the good character, judgment, stature and experience to effectively address these issues within the framework of our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government?” To my mind, Sarah Palin is the antithesis of these qualities, the polar opposite of what America needs right now in a leader. I draw this opinion from the facts I’ve read, particularly the facts on her leadership in Alaska, which is not only thin, but is also overshadowed by both allegations and proven instances of corruption, abuses of power and a certain lawlessness — not to mention the many contradictions (some would call them outright lies) contained within her own statements over the past 10 days since she appeared on the national stage. Her candidacy greatly concerns me, as an American, hence my barrage of missives against Sarah Palin. It is any one’s right, as an American, to do the same for any candidate. My gripe is with those who pen their opinions, while suffering from a profound lack of knowledge or understanding of the facts.

    The bottom line is — once the campaigns are over, and the votes have been cast — the campaign slogans will be retired, and the real business of running a government will begin, with the president’s sworn duty here being simply: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” So, yes, it does seem important that a president have a genuine depth of understanding of the U.S. Constitution — an understanding that is solidly grounded in historical, political and ideological persectives (and, no, not a mere rote interpretation) into that very Constitution that he or she claims “the best” ability to preserve, protect and defend in these complex times.

    Here are a few links to anyone interested in learning more about David Addington and his contributions to the many changes our Constitution has seen over the past 8 years. The articles are lengthy but well worth the effort to read if you’re interested in such things:

    THE NEW YORKER: The Hidden Power: The legal mind behind the White House’s war on terror.

    US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Cheney’s Guy: He’s barely known outside Washington’s corridors of power, but David Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never heard of. Here’s why:


    September 8, 2008 at 7:27 am

  5. I totally agree that anyone who seeks the presidency or vice presidency of the United States should have good character, judgment, stature and experience. In my humble opinion John McCain and Satah Palin have these attributes. Obama’s character was seriously flawed when he promised to forgo private funding for his candidacy and then after realizing how much more he could raise and spend reversed himself. I realize politicans break promises all the time. The difference to me is when the break their promise, is it based on the best interests of their constituency or their own selfish interests? His executive experience pales in comparison to either McCain or Palin. I for one am tired of career politicians from either party.

    Your arguments mostly center on the constitutional liberties that you seem to think have been abused by the current administration. It may surprise you to know that the current administration is not up for election this cycle. Instead we as a nation are facing problems created by both political parties and the American people (through their complacency) over the past thirty years. The only candidates that have a real plan and can gain consensus on how to deal with these problems is the McCain-Palin ticket. They have a history of building consensus and rooting out corruption. Obama has no such record.

    In 40 years of presidential politics I have never seen such elitism and sexism as is being displayed since Sarah Palin’s nomination. The elistists from both parties got us into the mess we’re in and if it takes a common soccer Mom and a war hero to get us out, so much the better.

    I do not support Mccain and Palin on all issues, in fact I think they are all wrong on abortion, but I intend to vote for them because I believe a vote for them is a vote for America’s future.

    s yelton

    September 9, 2008 at 9:44 am

  6. Very good article and very relevant to today’s situation in the United States; for the past 8 years, the Constitution and the Bill of Right has been trampled on by the Bush administration. Without the Constitution & Bill of Rights, the United States is just another country without a soul – safe (maybe), but insignificant.

    The issue of executive experience, in my opinion, is not that important. Many past presidential candidates and presidents had only legislative experiences. Then there’s Washington, Jackson, Grant & Eisenhower who were merely former Army Generals.

    Palin’s experience. both her legislative and executive experiences, are minor compared to other political figures. During her tenure as a City Council member and then a Mayor of the City of Wasilla, it was a city of 5,500 people with essentially one main paved road. As Governor of Alaska, she was the executive in charge of a very large state with a relatively small population (about 500,000 full time residents). Comparatively, in King County, Washington (includes City of Seattle) has a population of about 2.5 million citizens and has as many public employees as the State of Alaska. So my question is, “does that make the King County Executive better suited for the VP position?” While I don’t particularly like the gentleman, I’d have to say he’d make a much better candidate than Palin, based on executive experience.

    McCain, on the other hand, has military experience (at most, only a squadron commander), and legislative experience – contrary to all the rhetoric, he essentially has no executive experience. And quite frankly, McCain as a Republican has flip-flops on party issues more than John Kerry.

    Now looking at George Bush, he has had only executive experience, first as a failed businessman and then as the Governor of Texas.

    So, while executive experience is helpful, I believe it is not that important. My vote will be based on a President (and VP) on whether they best represent ‘All the People’ of the United States AND will they “… preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” As a liberal Republican, I sorry to say George Bush failed on both counts.

    L Andersen

    September 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm

  7. In response to S Yelton comment, yes Obama’s law degree and teaching constitutional law makes him much more of an expert on interpretation of the US constitution than anything Palin has ever done! Just like having a medical degree is a requirement to practice medicine. Knowing facts and understanding legal principles is essential to any legal profession. Your comment that most of the signers were non lawyers shows your ignorance in what it takes to perform a professional task in law. Do you really believe what you wrote?


    September 20, 2008 at 7:19 pm

  8. […] Sarah be at a loss for words, I’ve done her homework, the same as I did when she asked, “What is it exactly that the VP does every day?” The answer is printed, in entirety, at the bottom of this post.  I offer this, not because […]

  9. canarypapers wrote:

    Regarding constitutional law, there are many in this country — myself included — who felt a certain thrill this past May, when Sen. Obama announced that, during his first 100 days in office, “I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.” Being a Harvard law school graduate, and serving as the president of the Harvard Law Review, and teaching constitutional law for 12 years affords him the credentials to not only aspire to such a task, but to undertake it with some competency.

    So sad.

    You do realize, don’t you, that a president cannot overturn laws; that is the job of the judiciary branch or by the Congress. That you invoke Obama’s lengthy legal resume only makes it more embarrassing for him.

    If Sarah Palin — who is not a constitutional lawyer — had made the same faux pas, we wouldn’t have ever heard the end of it.

    Tony Kondaks

    January 29, 2010 at 8:50 pm

  10. Actually, the same authority that U.S. presidents use to “make laws” via executive orders, can be used (and often is used) by subsequent presidents to overturn laws issued through executive orders made by their predecessors.

    Two of the more famous executive orders made by U.S. presidents were Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and Truman’s desegregation of the military in 1948. Both were passed with a mere stroke of the presidential pen. They were good ideas in their time, even if they were only part of a larger wartime strategy by the U.S. government. On the other end of the spectrum was George W. Bush’s executive order #13440, which enabled the U.S. to sidestep the Geneva Conventions Against Torture, allowing the U.S. to “legally” torture people. Obama rescinded Bush’s executive #13440 with his own executive order #13491, per the authority of his office.

    Executive orders have long been a topic of debate, as various presidents have been accused of abusing their authority through executive orders — in essence, seizing dictatorial powers. Bush (who issued a total of 284 executive orders) was widely criticized for this very reason. For more on Bush’s abuse of power through executive orders, read the 2008 Slate article, in which readers chose the top ten Bush executive orders that Obama needed to toss. Two other methods by which presidents may affect or “make law” are signing statements and federal rules, both of which Bush was also accused of abusing.

    Wikipedia offers an extensive list of presidential executive orders, including those that Obama issued during his first 100 days in office to overturn or rescind the Bush laws issued through executive orders. Come 2012, should a Republican step into the White House, you can bet there will be yet more executive orders signed to overturn Obama’s executive orders. That’s just the way things work here in America.

    The hope is, as always, that presidents will not abuse the power of executive orders to exploit and crush the letter and spirit of constitutional law — something Bush & Cheney did with reckless abandon, and to the ongoing obliviousness of many Americans. Fortunately, Obama has since overturned some of the laws that were in flagrant defiance of constitutional and international law. On that note, I still attest that Sarah Palin, like Bush, lacks the scholarly and historical understanding of our constitution and the democratic process to have been worthy of the trust of the office she sought.


    January 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

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