IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Senator Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?Someone (in a tab I appear to have closed) someone commented re: the "no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital" that those visitation rights don't exist in most states, so...
BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.
The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.
It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.
IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?
PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.
But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.
But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.
But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.
But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.
IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?
BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.
The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.
IFILL: Is that what your said?
PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.
BIDEN: The charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes. It's a bogus standard it but if you notice, Gwen, the governor did not answer the question about deregulation, did not answer the question of defending John McCain about not going along with the deregulation, letting Wall Street run wild. He did support deregulation almost across the board. That's why we got into so much trouble.I saw a lot of people raging about this "I'm not going to answer your questions," and I get that, but part of me is really sympathetic to it. And her distrust of the MSM really resonates with me. I said last night that I was so incredibly sick of hearing the word "maverick," and I was annoyed by all the obvious buzz phrase usage ("Washington outsider," etc.). I much prefer stuff like this, where she actually demonstrates that she's someone who's gonna speak her mind and all that. And no, I'm not arguing that a formal debate like this one is the time to say, "I'm only going to talk about the topics I feel like" (though I can't help think that if, say, Obama had pulled something like this, the left would be insisting that he was just rejecting the oppressive format and focusing on issues that real people really cared about and yadda yadda).
IFILL: Would you like to have an opportunity to answer that before we move on?
PALIN: I'm still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.
IFILL: Governor, are you interested in defending Senator McCain's health care plan?I don't actually have any idea what health care coverage costs, but I can't help thinking, "What if you need more than $5K in health care costs?" I'm really unsure as to how a universal health care system works at a practical level (you can't provide an infinite amount of care for everyone, so how do you draw the line and say, "No more health care for you"?) and I'm sympathetic to the "Do you really want government running this?" but I'm also really hesitant around this idea that a simple tax credit is ultimately more useful than such a plan.
PALIN: I am because he's got a good health care plan that is detailed. And I want to give you a couple details on that. He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they can get out there and they can purchase their own health care coverage. That's a smart thing to do. That's budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything as opposed to Barack Obama's plan to mandate health care coverage and have universal government run program and unless you're pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, I don't think that it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds. But a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax that's budget neutral. That's going to help. And he also wants to erase those artificial lines between states so that through competition, we can cross state lines and if there's a better plan offered somewhere else, we would be able to purchase that. So affordability and accessibility will be the keys there with that $5,000 tax credit also being offered.
BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, it surprises me that Senator McCain doesn't realize that Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran. The theocracy controls the security apparatus, number one.I meant to comment on this last night, considering the fact that both candidates talked about Ahmadinejad in last week's presidential debate and neither of them mentioned that.
I also meant to comment on how weird it is to me that there is this HUGE love for Israel.
BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.Palin throughout the debate does this effusive "I'm so glad we are in agreement on Issue X" -- which actually really annoys me -- but Biden's really adamant about his strong support for Israel. I get that having an ally in the Middle East is really important to the US, but I get the feeling that the support is for Israel qua Israel, which I don't so much understand.
IFILL: Has this administration's policy been an abject failure, as the senator says, Governor?
PALIN: No, I do not believe that it has been. But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that.
IFILL: Everybody gets extra credit tonight. We're going to move on to the next question. Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said, you would not be vice president under any circumstances. Now maybe this was just what was going on at the time. But tell us now, looking forward, what it is you think the vice presidency is worth now.Not gonna lie, I don't really have a sense of what the role of the VP is supposed to be. And this is one instance where The West Wing does not help me at all ;)
PALIN: In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it. Of course we know what a vice president does.
BIDEN: They didn't get yours or mine? Which one didn't they get?
PALIN: No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all, and then working with families of children with special needs. That's near and dear to my heart also. In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that's where I want you, I want you to lead. I said, I can't wait to get and there go to work with you.
BIDEN: Gwen, I hope we'll get back to education because I don't know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn't fund it. We can get back to that I assume.
With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I'm sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he'll be making, I'll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He's president, not me, I'll give my best advice.
And one of the things he said early on when he was choosing, he said he picked someone who had an independent judgment and wouldn't be afraid to tell him if he disagreed. That is sort of my reputation, as you know. I look forward to working with Barack and playing a very constructive role in his presidency, bringing about the kind of change this country needs.
IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?
PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.
IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?
BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is wrong about the Vice President and the Constitution -- the Vice President does have a legislative role, and the VP doesn't just preside over the Senate in case of a tie. The VP only votes in case of a tie, but voting isn't the same as presiding. Good grief.Edit: "Historical Manglings: What Joe Biden and Sarah Palin don't understand about the office they're applying for." by Josh Chafetz (TNR, Post Date Friday, October 03, 2008) /edit
Also, Joe, Article I of the Constitution deals with the legislative branch, not the executive. Again, good grief.
FINALLY: Still more on Joe Biden's constitutional flubs.
And, yes, the VP's legislative duties are in Article I. But that cuts precisely against the point that Biden was trying to make. Here's what Biden said: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. . . . The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous." This is wong on multiple levels at once. Article I -- which deals with the legislative, not the Executive branch, says: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." The Vice President presides over the Senate by right, whenever he/she wants to, regardless of whether there's a tie vote.
What's more, Vice Presidents, until Spiro Agnew, got their offices and budgets from the Senate, not the Executive Branch. The legislative character of that office is traditional -- treating the VP as part of the Executive Branch, and a sort of junior co-President, is a recent and, to my mind, unwise innovation. That's discussed at more length in this article from the Northwestern University Law Review.
PALIN: [...] But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.liz_marcs raged about Palin's attribution of "city on a hill" to Reagan. I knew it originated with the Puritans and just assumed that Reagan had used that well-known phrase at one point. I wasn't terribly fussed about the misattribution, because I think of it as having a "Everyone should be like us" mentality, which liberals tend to not play up a lot (even though they often believe it just as much as the people they oppose do).
Liz points to the Wiki entry which quotes Regan's farewell speech, where he does use the phrase but also very specifically credits Winthrop for its origin. Unsurprisingly, I ended up reading the whole entry.
The Winthrop excerpt begins: "Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to doe Justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God."
Winthrop continues: "We must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities." Aww, he sounds kind of socialist :)
Winthrop also quotes Moses' farewell address to Israel (from Deut. 30): "wee are Commaunded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another to walke in his wayes and to keepe his Commaundements and his Ordinance, and his lawes, and the Articles of our Covenant with him that wee may live and be multiplyed, and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whether wee goe to possesse it: But if our heartes shall turne away soe that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced and worship other Gods our pleasures, and profits, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perish out of the good Land whether wee passe over this vast Sea to possess it"
Interesting that Reagan says in his speech, about how he imagines America (this "city on a hill"), "if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here." Hai, immigration policy.