But it wasn’t until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency that the vice presidency took on a substantive role. Carter saw the office as an underused asset and set out to make the most of it. He gave me an office in the West Wing, unimpeded access to him and to the flow of information, and specific assignments at home and abroad. He asked me, as the only other nationally elected official, to be his adviser and partner on a range of issues.
Our relationship depended on trust, mutual respect and an acknowledgement that there was only one agenda to be served — the president’s. Every Monday the two of us met privately for lunch; we could, and did, talk candidly about virtually anything. By the end of four years we had completed the “executivization” of the vice presidency, ending two centuries of confusion, derision and irrelevance surrounding the office.
Did you know that? I certainly wasn’t aware that it was only under President Jimmy “Hamas isn’t a terrorist outfit” Carter that the VP role had finally been made “relevant” especially not when you consider what happened under Carter’s and Mondale’s watch. More on that in minute. The man who couldn’t beat Norm Coleman in 2002 goes on:
This all changed in 2001, and especially after Sept. 11, when Cheney set out to create a largely independent power center in the office of the vice president. His was an unprecedented attempt not only to shape administration policy but, alarmingly, to limit the policy options sent to the president. It is essential that a president know all the relevant facts and viable options before making decisions, yet Cheney has discarded the “honest broker” role he played as President Gerald Ford’s chief of staff.
Through his vast government experience, through the friends he had been able to place in key positions and through his considerable political skills, he has been increasingly able to determine the answers to questions put to the president — because he has been able to determine the questions. It was Cheney who persuaded President Bush to sign an order that denied access to any court by foreign terrorism suspects and Cheney who determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rather than subject his views to an established (and rational) vetting process, his practice has been to trust only his immediate staff before taking ideas directly to the president. Many of the ideas that Bush has subsequently bought into have proved offensive to the values of the Constitution and have been embarrassingly overturned by the courts.
And many have been upheld, thankfully.
In essence, Mondale is unhappy that Cheney has more clearly defined the role of VP than he supposedly did, and almost seems to be jealous about it. This, however, was the height of chutzpah for the former VP under Carter:
Since the Carter administration left office, we have been criticized for many things. Yet I remain enormously proud of what we did in those four years, especially that we told the truth, obeyed the law and kept the peace.
James Taranto reminds us:
What do you call it when the U.S. sits idly by as the Soviets invade Afghanistan and a newly radicalized Iran holds Americans hostage?
Walter Mondale calls it “keeping the peace.”
From Mondale’s opinion piece, it’s clear that Carter isn’t the only one in his administration who has a penchant for attempting to whitewash history (more on that here). Oh well, at least Mondale’s not yet another from the Carter admnistration who refuses to call terrorist organizations for what they are.