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The Contemporary Presidency: Cheney, Vice Presidential Power, and the War on Terror

Authors

  • JOEL K. GOLDSTEIN

    Corresponding author
    1. Saint Louis University School of Law
      Joel K. Goldstein is the Vincent C. Immel Professor of Law at Saint Louis University School of Law and the author of The Modern American Vice Presidency, as well as many other books and articles about the presidency, vice presidency, and constitutional law.
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Joel K. Goldstein is the Vincent C. Immel Professor of Law at Saint Louis University School of Law and the author of The Modern American Vice Presidency, as well as many other books and articles about the presidency, vice presidency, and constitutional law.

Abstract

This essay explores the relationship between the war on terror, the rise in presidential power, and the unprecedented nature of the Dick Cheney vice presidency, which is generally recognized as America's most influential vice presidency. Whereas historically the second office often had been dismissed as too feeble, the Cheney vice presidency sometimes was attacked as too robust. Although the events of 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror certainly contributed in important ways to the rise of presidential and vice presidential power during the presidency of George W. Bush, both developments were under way and would have occurred, although differently, had al-Qaeda never attacked the United States. The author attributes Cheney's influential vice presidency in large part to a confluence of factors relating to Bush and Cheney that predated 9/11. The essay suggests that these factors produced a unique vice presidency that, for most of Cheney's tenure, allowed Cheney to escape conventional sources of vice presidential accountability.

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