De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you are no doubt aware of the Anonymous OpEd piece published by the New York Times last Wednesday, September 5th.  Anonymous claims to be a ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ who is part of a group within the White House attempting to quell the worst of Trump’s inclinations.  One line in the letter stirred a great deal of conversation:

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Early on in the Trump presidency, I mentioned the 25th Amendment a few times as a possible means for removing the madman, and at that time, I saw some hope.  But, just as I have cautioned you that impeachment is absolutely not going to fly, I must now do the same regarding the 25th Amendment.

A quick explanation of how the 25th Amendment is supposed to work:

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send a letter to the president pro-tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House notifying them that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” When that happens, the vice president will assume the role of “acting president” and the president is (temporarily) relieved of his duties. The president can notify congressional leadership that no incapacity exists and unless the vice president and the majority of the cabinet disagree, the president will reassume his duties. Otherwise, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would be required to vote to permanently bestow the title of “acting president” upon the vice president.

The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with a situation in which the president was incapacitated but still alive. Imagine a scenario in which the president has suffered a massive stroke. The stroke has put him in a persistent vegetative state. He is unable to discharge the office but, because he has not died, the vice president cannot assume the presidency in the normal manner. Prior to the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no constitutional remedy for such a situation. Such a scenario is real—such a medical crisis happens to Americans every day—and if it afflicted a president, the stakes would be profound.

The intent of the 25th Amendment was not to remove presidential powers because people disagreed with the president or because they questioned his judgment. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

Look at Mike Pence last Sunday, making the rounds of the morning talk shows and licking Trump’s boots at every stop.  Is this a man who is going to invoke the 25th?  Check out his cabinet members … find even two who would be willing to take the risk, let alone a majority.  And think about this … if they did grow a pair of cojones and take that first step … all Trump would have to do is fire the lot of them.  Ridiculous, you say?  Remember who we’re talking about here.

And then, even if all the above obstacles were overcome, we come back to the same argument I made to prove that an impeachment is not feasible:  it requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress.  The Senate, again, will be sort of a democratic majority even if every single seat that is open in November is filled by a democrat.  The republicans in Congress are not going to risk their necks, their ‘good standing’ with their voters to remove Trump from office.  Period.

So, no, Trump will not be impeached nor removed via the 25th Amendment in the foreseeable future.  My best guess is that, barring a true meltdown such as him removing all his clothing and running naked through the White House brandishing a flaming sword and screaming, “Burn, baby, burn!!!”, he will be in office until 20 January 2021.  The only way I can predict that changing is if the 36% or so who still support Trump can be convinced to listen to reason, to consider facts, to realize the dangers of him remaining in office.  As I have noted before, the republicans in Congress will move against Trump just as soon as their voters tell them to, and not one moment sooner.   It’s gonna be a long 783 days until election day 2020.

Ted Cruz … Hypocrite Extraordinaire

cruzIt hurt.  It had to hurt.

In July, I was actually proud of Ted Cruz.  He stood at the Republican National Convention and told voters to “vote your conscience.”  He was the only speaker at the convention who did not endorse Donald Trump.  I thought it took great courage and showed a sense of values to do what he did.  But on Friday, he blew it, once again.  Yes, folks, Mr. Cruz tossed his values, such as they were, to the wind and said “After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word. Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.”

As writer Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station  said, “Which, in point of fact, confirms everything I ever suspected about Ted Cruz’s conscience.”  I would agree.

Now, the question is:  WHY?  There may be a couple of reasons:

  • Cruz will be up for re-election to the Senate in 2018, and some Texas republicans were so disappointed in his refusal to endorse Trump at the RNC that they were considering withdrawing their support.
  • I think, as do a number of republicans, that regardless who wins the November election, Cruz will give it another shot in 2020. Personally, I am not sure that supporting Trump was necessarily a wise move toward success in four years, but if withholding his support for Trump would have cost him the support of the RNC, then perhaps.
  • Last Sunday, 18 September, RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, threatened Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other Republicans who refuse to support presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying the party may take steps to ensure it’s not “that easy for them” to seek the White House again. Since Cruz is obviously not willing to watch his political career go swirling down the drain, perhaps he took Mr. Priebus at his word.

Now, granted, I am neither a conservative nor a Republican, but I am nonetheless able to see what is wrong with this whole scenario, and sum it up in one word:  TRUST.  Cruz is not the first to say that in all good conscience he cannot endorse Trump, then endorse him anyway.  But if you speak out against a candidate, saying that your conscience simply will not let you support him, and then two months (or less, in some other cases) reverse your opinion, I think it is obvious that your values took a backseat to your political career, and thus you have betrayed the trust  If the people who say they are tired of “Washington politics”, sick of the “establishment”, mean what they say, they surely can see that Cruz’ endorsement on Friday is just more of what they say they are sick and tired.

Over the course of the past year, Cruz has endured a significant amount of abuse from Trump:

  • heidi-cruzTrump retweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, juxtaposed with his wife, Melania.
  • Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. (Nobody had a clue what this meant, but obviously it led to speculation)
  • Trump suggested that Cruz’s father may have been involved in the Kennedy assassination.
  • Trump suggested strongly early in the primary season that Cruz might not be eligible to serve as president, given his birth in Canada to an American citizen.
  • Trump said he wouldn’t even accept Cruz’s endorsement.
  • Trump attacked Cruz’s faith, saying “How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest?”
  • Trump has repeatedly called Cruz “lyin’ Ted”, and said he was “utterly amoral” and a “narcissist” (Talk about the pot calling the kettle …)
  • “Ted is a nasty guy. People don’t like him.”

Those are just a few of Trump’s insults toward Cruz, but I ask you, dear readers:  Would you, could you, endorse and support somebody who had abused you in those ways?  I could not … I would not.  My conscience is apparently more rigid than that of Mr. Cruz.

And there is also the flip side, the insults Cruz has hurled at Trump:

  • Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward.”
  • “Trump’s tax returns could show a mob connection”
  • He also called Trump a “big, loud New York bully”
  • He called Trump “a small and petty man who is intimidated by strong women”
  • Cruz called one of Trump’s theories “nuts” and “just kooky”
  • And, while he was at it, Cruz accused him of narcissism and being a “serial philanderer”

Okay, now read those again.  Are we likely to endorse and support a man who we believe is a sniveling coward, a small & petty man, nuts, kooky, a narcissist, a bully and …. Well, you get the picture.  No, we are not. But then, we are not huge fans of Cracker Jacks, right?

cracker jackI especially liked Republican strategist Ana Navarro’s Twitter comment, referring to Heidi Cruz: “If after saying he was standing up for my honor, my man endorsed a guy who called me ugly…he’d be sleeping on the damn couch for months.” But then, I became a fan of Navarro a month or so ago when I read that she said Trump was “unfit to be human”!  See, folks … there are some Republicans who haven’t traded their brains for a box of Cracker Jacks!

Okay, Filosofa, what is the point to all this?  The point, at least from my point of view, is not whether or not Ted Cruz came out in support of Donald Trump.  The point is that I think he did so for all the wrong reasons.  I have said for over a year now that every person is entitled to his or her position, his or her political beliefs.  If a person seriously believes that Trump’s views and ideologies are what is best for this nation, and if that person is truly looking at ideas rather than following Trump’s elusive dream of “slaying the dragon” and winning world dominance, then I will respect that person and his/her values.  But when one pledges fealty to Trump simply in order to enhance his/her own agenda, then no, I have no respect.

Cruz, perhaps, had an opportunity in the wake of the stance he took at the RNC, to garner respect of thinkers, of people who place honesty over political rhetoric.  He had the chance to gain the respect of even some Democratic liberals because he was, perhaps for once, honest.  Because he followed his heart, his conscience.  Friday?  He blew it all to shreds.  I, and many like me, now understand what Ted Cruz actually stands for … Ted Cruz.  No, he does not stand for the United States, nor for the American people … he merely stands for himself … Ted Cruz.