Every four years, the federal government produces the “Plum Book,” listing “more than 7,000 government jobs that are likely to open up with the presidential transition.” This year, the book was published by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs (publication duty alternates between the Senate and the House Committee on Government Reform), which is chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Lieberman described it as “essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing public service in the executive branch of government.”
For those interested in the executive branch, however, the 2008 and the 2004 versions of the Plum Book offer a startling — and erroneous — assertion: The office of the Vice President is not in the executive branch. Both versions put the description of the VP’s office last under “Appendices,” rather than in the Executive Branch section:
The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The Vice Presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch (see article I, section 3 of the Constitution) and in the executive branch (see article II, and amendments XII and XXV, of the Constitution, and section 106 of title 3 of the United States Code).
The new language exactly mirrors the description that David Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff, offered to Congress earlier this year:
ADDINGTON: Sir, perhaps the best that can be said is that the vice president belongs neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter.
That the 2004 Plum Book includes this language is evidence that the Bush administration set out to radically redefine the Vice President’s role from the start — long before it first came into public view, in 2007, that Cheney did not view himself as part of the executive branch.