06/09/2008 09:11 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Vetting the Veeps: One Question to Ask

The jockeying for consideration as Vice President has begun in earnest in both parties, and the Washington-New York media will soon be awash in useless predictions. Few things that candidates say during campaigns can usefully predict how they'll perform in office, but there is a question Dick Cheney probably would have answered, had he been asked, in 2000, and it would have predicted much that's transpired since. It's a question that should be asked of any candidate for the presidency or vice-presidency this time around: What's your view of executive power?

It sounds dry and civics-class, but the many depredations upon the Constitution we've witnessed during this administration have been based in large part on Cheney's bizarrely expansive view of the power of the executive branch, the goofy theory of the "unitary executive." One change that's essential this time around is to make sure the next Pres. and Veep swear off the kind of power-grabbing that the Constitution was designed to prevent.

So the Fantasy Assignment Desk reminds anyone who interviews possible Vice Presidents, or Presidents, for that matter, to ask them that one little question.