PEEK

Dick Cheney is a Barnacle on the Rotting Hull of the Executive Branch

Or, so Cheney's chief of staff seems to think.

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the Office of the Vice President gave up on the notion that Dick Cheney isn’t really part of the executive branch. In the midst of an oversight fight regarding the handling of classified material, the OVP had made the absurd argument about Cheney’s branch, but on June 27, 2007, the Vice President’s team decided that was too ridiculous to keep repeating.

In fact, the next day, the NYT reported, “A White House official placed further distance from the dual role argument by adding that Mr. Cheney did not necessarily agree with it.”

So, all of this unpleasantness is behind us? We can finally agree that Cheney is the Vice President, and the Vice President is part of the executive branch? Apparently not. Cheney’s reclusive chief of staff, David Addington, told the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon that the VP is “attached” to the legislative branch.

The video shows Addington reading a 1961 memo describing the OVP as belonging “neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch.”
Addington refused to go into any additional detail, saying only that Cheney is “attached” to the legislative branch. When Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) suggested that would make the Vice President a “barnacle,” Addington, disgusted, said he didn’t “consider the Constitution a barnacle.”

Just as an aside, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen any government official express the kind of contempt for Congress as I’ve seen from Addington today. Every response to every question is soaked in pure revulsion. I keep expecting him to spit at the members of the committee after every exchange.

But that aside, Addington’s argument about Cheney’s branch was silly when he first started pushing it, and it hasn’t improved with age.

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Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.