In a recent interview, Joe Biden recalled how he told President-elect Obama that as vice president, he would like to be involved “in every important decision you’ll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy.”
Yesterday, on Fox News, Karl Rove attacked Biden for asking to be involved in executive decisions, insinuating that Biden was requesting a far greater executive role than even Vice President Cheney. “That’s a pretty expansive view…and a pretty large demand,” he said. “I know for a fact” that “Dick Cheney never asked that of George W. Bush,” Rove added.
ROVE: You know what’s amazing to me? I would never believe that Vice President Cheney, I know for fact certain he never asked President Bush, Governor Bush at the time in 2000 for the kind of commitment that Senator Biden apparently asked of Senator Obama, that you know, I, the vice president, have to be in the room at every major decision you make and you have to consult with me.
“And I’m confident that it’s pretty extraordinary if Biden asked that of Obama,” Rove said. Watch it:
Once again, Rove has his “facts” wrong. The truth is that Cheney did discuss with Bush early on his ideas for expanding the VP’s role — and dabbling in any area of his choosing. As Cheney biographer Barton Gellman noted in his book (p. 51):
Word came back that Cheney would engage in “whatever area the vide president feels he wants to be active in,” [Josh] Bolten said. And Bush backed him up. “The president made it clear from the outset that the vice president is welcome at every table and at every meeting,” said Bolten, speaking in 2006. … But it’s been true as a practical matter and as a real matter of atmosphere here in the White House.”
Former vice president Dan Quayle also recalled a deal between Cheney and Bush (p.58). Cheney “had the understanding with President Bush that he would be — I’m just going to use the word ‘surrogate chief of staff.’ … He wanted to be there all the time. And this was the deal he had.”
Rove later said it was a just a “myth” that Cheney amassed “enormous power” as Vice President. But as Gellman noted last night, Cheney’s view of executive power is “more radical” than Richard Nixon’s. Biden has is already breaking with the Cheney model, stating this month that he will limit his involvement in congressional affairs.
ROVE: Yes. Look, Biden sort of disappeared after the election. He has now sort of reappeared. You know what’s amazing to me? I would never believe that Vice President Cheney, I know for fact certain he never asked President Bush, Governor Bush at the time in 2000 for the kind of commitment that Senator Biden apparently asked of Senator Obama, that you know, I, the vice president, have to be in the room at every major decision you make and you have to consult with me.
That’s a pretty expansive view. And Dick Cheney never asked that of George W. Bush.And I’m confident that it’s pretty extraordinary if Biden asked that of Obama. You’re not certain that he really did, incidentally. But if he really did, it’s a pretty expansive request and a pretty large demand.
KASICH: Well, I just think he should kind of slough this off. I would bet that Obama would have kind of chuckled about all these questions and wouldn’t have paid attention.
KASICH: All right.
KASICH: What was the relationship, Karl, between President Bush and Dick Cheney? I mean, obviously they were very close. It seemed to me that in the beginning, Cheney had great influence as time went on last influence. Describe the relationship for us.
ROVE: You know, I’m not certain that’s accurate. I think Cheney had durable influence throughout because Cheney understood having been a former White House chief of staff and having watched the presidency up close. Remember, this is a man who served seven — under seven presidents. And so he had a pretty clear idea of what the office was about. And he knew that as vice president, he really served at the president’s sufferance. He would take on the assignments the president gave him. He would give his opinion when the president asked for it. And it was his job to, once a decision was made, smartly salute and move on and to make certain that his people worked in concert with the rest of the White House in support of the president’s policies.
KASICH: You know, Karl, some people, think that Cheney at times was a defacto president, that he had enormous power. That he told the president at times what to do. Comment on that.
ROVE: Well, look, that’s part of the myth. If you don’t like George W. Bush and you don’t think that he was legally elected in the first place or you don’t think he’s up to the job, what you do is you diminish him by saying well, it was all Cheney.