The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It started as a trial balloon not long after the election.
There were whispers and a few half-baked news stories citing the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted to fix presidential succession weaknesses in 1967, as a way to get rid of Donald Trump. Half the country doesn’t think he is qualified to be president and was not elected honestly.
But it was only a whisper, shared by Trump’s enemies and Hillary Clinton’s friends on Facebook, until recently.
The New York Times got around to writing about it in May, saying it had become clear by then that Trump seemed “unable to discharge the powers of the presidency.”
To at least one columnist, it seemed like a more of an appropriate fix than impeachment. The argument was that one does not need to be a Marvel superhero to be president. “But one needs some basic attributes: a reasonable level of intellectual curiosity, a certain seriousness of purpose, a basic level of managerial competence, a decent attention span, a functional moral compass, a measure of restraint and self-control.”
According to the Times, “Trump is seemingly deficient in them all.”
The UK Guardian has also written about it, under headlines such as: “Yes, Trump can be removed from the U.S. presidency. Here’s how.”
But even some of my Facebook friends dismissed the idea when I said I was going to write about it.
“I don’t think this would happen though because those close to him, including Pence, would have to speak against him, and they don’t have the balls,” one commenter said.
But I happened to be watching the local news the other day on the CBS affiliate in D.C., and one of the anchors, no raving liberal, was interviewing a Maryland psychologist who was making the case for why Congress and the president’s cabinet should remove Trump as President based on the 25th Amendment. He’s organized a group of mental health professionals in support of his proposal, and he now has a Maryland Congressman behind the idea.
The hashtags for the story include: #25thAmendment #PresidentTrump #POTUS #Constitution #MentalHealth #Psychology #WhiteHouse #Congress #Cabinet.
Now, 25 House Democrats, including the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, are pushing an equally radical alternative. They are backing a bill that would create a congressional “oversight” commission that could declare the president incapacitated, leading to his removal from office under the 25th Amendment. This is not some left-wing blogger doing this story. It is being reported on by the Associated Press.
Of course there are some liberal bloggers pushing this story, including this one from the Daily Beast.
In September, the Washington Post ran a guest column from University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner: Trump could be removed for political incompetence — using the 25th Amendment.
In October, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel said we should use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and simply make him a king, with no real power and certainly no access to the nuclear football and the ability to start World War III.
After Trump made his ill-thought out comments at the United Nations last month calling Kim Jong Un of North Korea Rocket Man, and talking about “totally destroying” another country — before the very body created by the U.S. and others to foster world peace — others started weighing in.
Then on Tuesday, it was reported that North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador warned Monday that the situation on the Korean peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.”
Trump has made statements in the past indicating that he is totally ignorant of what would happen in the event of a nuclear war. He seems to think we could use our nuclear weapons on North Korea and get away with it. Could we count on the generals to disavow his order if he gave it? It is not so clear that they would.
There’s lot of crazy stuff on the web talking about how to survive a nuclear blast, a nuclear war, nuclear winter and such, but none of it makes much sense. It’s science fiction, not fact.
When I was a a kid there was the educational film teaching school children to hide under their desks. That is laughable now.
When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama in the early 1980s, this guy named Robert Scheer (not the former LA Times columnist) visited campus. I wrote a story about it for the Crimson White student newspaper. He had written a book called With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War, saying all we had to do to survive a nuclear war with Russia was to dig a hole in our back yards.
After listening to this guy for just a few minutes, even then I realized he was an idiot and his theory was total bullshit. He has now disappeared from the scene, and rightfully so.
There is a secret plan developed by the Carter administration for some government leaders to survive, and maybe a few of the rest of us.
But during the Reagan years, an Ivy League war games conference convinced everyone involved that surviving a nuclear war was untenable. A few humans may survive, but not the societies we’ve built.
If we want to survive, we would be better off removing from office any politician crazy enough to think human civilization could survive a nuclear war on this planet. If that means invoking the 25th Amendment, then Congress and the president’s cabinet should get busy, and right soon.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.