Think Progress:Matthews Rips Palin: Somebody Needs To ‘Give Her A Copy Of The Constitution To Read’: Earlier this week, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat down for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. As ThinkProgress first reported, in response to a question about “[w]hat does the Vice President do,” Palin replied, “[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes.” (She’s wrong.)
Today on MSNBC, Chris Matthews challenged McCain campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer to defend Palin’s comments, saying that in all his time in Washington, he has “never heard anybody” give an answer like Palin did. “Where does she get her civics?” asked Matthews. Pfotenhauer became visibly angry by the questioning and tried to change the subject. Matthews, however, refused to let her get away:
I don’t know why Randy Scheunemann or one of the smart people around her — I don’t know who else, Nicolle Wallace, somebody — ought to go to the candidate for the Vice President and give them a copy of the Constitution to read. That’s all it takes. It doesn’t take a lot of penetrating thought. Read the job description. […]
Somehow, in all these trips to Washington — through Neiman’s, and through Saks, and through everywhere else she stopped off, she never picked up a copy of the Constitution. It is a problem. It is a problem, Nancy, and you know it.
Now I am thinking that I must be really stupid. The Constitution reads:
I§3: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided. The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States...
The Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate. That means he sits up front. He has the gavel. He chooses who gets to speak next. He chooses when to gavel them to sit down. He makes procedural rulings--which can be overruled by a simple majority vote, it is true, but he makes procedural rulings.
It is true that the Vice President has not traditionally exercised his powers to be President of the Senate. If the President were to tell the Veep to exercise them, it would piss the Majority Leader off--and the Minority Leader too to the extent that the Minority Leader hopes to someday become Majority Leader. But we could someday have a Constitutional Moment, couldn't we? The Vice President could show up and take the chair, right? And then call on and recognize whomever he or she chose and only whomever he or she chose for just whatever purposes he or she chose--and the Veeps decisions would stick, to the extent that he or she was sustained in rulings by fifty-one senators.
Why am I stupid?