People who have something to feel guilty about are famous for invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before grand juries or congressional committees.
Could it soon be time for a nation (or 46% of one, at least) that made a catastrophic decision to elevate a staggeringly unfit man to the presidency to take the Twenty-Fifth?
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment, in case you didn’t know, was added to the Constitution in 1967 to clarify the presidential succession, fill a vice presidential vacancy (which had occurred 16 times before) and provide for the contingency of a president who was not removed or dead, but still incapable of functioning. The Kennedy assassination had a lot to do with this. Medical advances raised the prospect of a national leader who might be brain-dead (no Reagan jokes here, please) or on life support after an assassination attempt.
(In fact, President William McKinley lingered for eight days after being shot in 1901, and poor James Garfield endured more than two months of torture by his doctors before expiring in 1881. Both would have survived their wounds today.)
So far, the Twenty-Fifth has actually been used only to put Gerry Ford in the vice presidency in 1973 after Spiro Agnew was caught stuffing his pockets (with bribes from my step-uncle’s pal in Baltimore, but I digress), conveniently providing a plausible, if uninspiring, successor when Richard Nixon went down less than a year later. It was also used twice, for a few hours, when Bush the Dumber underwent anesthesia, putting Dick Cheney officially in charge, which he was anyhow. Feel better yet?
But the amendment also has a nifty, never-used provision, Section 4, that stipulates that the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can, in their collective wisdom (yes, Ben Carson and Rick Perry included), determine that the chief executive is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That covers an awful lot of ground, doesn’t it?
Like someone who has the emotional development of a toddler, and can’t let any slight from, say, a Venezuelan ex-beauty queen or North Korean dictator go? Or someone who awakens in the wee hours to set off an international incident, unless his daughter can grab his phone first. Or who can’t sit through a 20-minute briefing without getting distracted and bored, even if they use really short words to explain everything to him. You get the idea.
Under the amendment, the president can pipe up and say he’s just fine, thank you, but if two-thirds of both houses back up the vice president and Cabinet, he’s out.
Four and a half weeks in office show no sign of His Twitterness developing, at age 70, a newfound emotional stability or intellectual capacity. He already has antagonized the CIA, the Pentagon and a lot of people you really don’t want to be on the wrong side of in Washington. He is surrounded by a cabal of fanatics and, quite possibly, foreign agents who are loathed within the Executive Mansion, the Capitol and all the blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in between.
The Republican Party’s leaders and bankrollers never wanted the Grabber-in-Chief as their standard-bearer, but they were willing to ride his campaign into power. Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand agenda of fatten the rich, starve the rest was stymied for the last eight years by Obama’s veto. And the so-called Christian vote only wanted to save Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.
Once the GOP’s Dickensian budget plans get through and the court vacancy is filled, by any means necessary, Orangehead will have outlived his usefulness, unless he gets his act together and agrees to be a compliant figurehead for his betters.
If not, maybe one day soon: “Mike? Paul here. We need to have a talk.”