Every time I see a photo of Mike Pence with the Donald, Pence is looking at him with something akin to reverence in his expression. I’m not surprised, though, because Trump requires reverence and adulation of his underlings. And, of course, he appears to consider everyone who is not him to be an underling.
I wonder, though, what is behind Pence’s expression? What is going on in his mind when he professes support for Trump’s every bizarre speech, action, or tweet? Like the majority of Americans and most Members of Congress, Pence has to believe that this president is unfit to serve in the position to which he was elected. How could he not?
Each day more and more Members of Congress–regardless of party–are publicly criticizing Trump for his failure to unambiguously denounce racists, white supremacists, and the KKK. They are joining millions of Americans in expressing beliefs that he is too mentally unstable to deal with matters of worldwide importance such as the growing hostility with North Korea. The list of outrageous actions by President You-Know-Who is practically interminable.
While our country has so many serious issues to deal with both domestically and worldwide, Trump holds campaign rallies to soak up the adoration of his dwindling base of true believers. He attacks anyone who does not blindly support him, whether they are Democrats or members of the increasingly-frustrated Republican Party. He threatens to shut down our government unless his ridiculous wall is built.
We have a president who is apparently unhinged, or deranged, or demented, or unbalanced, or some combination of these descriptors, and he is in a position to do great harm to this country.
What do we do now? These are the options that Congress must begin to consider seriously:
- Formal Censure–A formal denouncement by Congress is a first step. It has no real meaning other than providing a “slap on the wrist” to warn the President that his behaviors are unacceptable.
- A Call for Trump’s Resignation–The idea that Trump would actually resign is far-fetched, unless it could be orchestrated in such a way that the resignation would make him look good. Not just good, but really good. Godlike, even.
- Impeachment–Impeachment could occur based on the result of the investigation of the Trump world’s collusion with Russia before, during, and possibly after the election, but it would require that Republicans stand up to the President and take the right-action that is required for the good of the country.
- Enactment of the 25th Amendment–This amendment was approved in 1967 after the assassination of President Kennedy. It delineates the presidential line of succession, including procedures to take in case the president, “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Section 4 of the Amendment: Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
The 25th Amendment was clearly adopted to provide for a transition of power if the president died or was physically incapacitated. It was enacted when Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush had surgery or medical procedures requiring general anesthesia. They were temporarily incapable of discharging the duties of the office, but that power quickly reverted to them.
The position being suggested now by millions, including some Members of Congress, is that this president is psychologically incapable of discharging his duties as president. Many have speculated on a “diagnosis” of Trump’s condition, but as of now there does not exist an medical diagnosis (at least not one that we know of). If he is actually mentally or psychologically incapacitated, as many have called him, he is not capable of acting in the best interests of this country.
Will Pence and the Cabinet take the decisive action that would be required to enact the 25th Amendment? Will they require a medical diagnosis to identify any psychological insufficiencies of the president? I doubt it very seriously. This would be a precedent-setting action which could have serious consequences, both now and in the future. It must, though, be considered if (or when) this president continues to demonstrate that he is incapable of discharging “the powers and duties of his office” in the best interest of our country.
For the time being, I have both phoned and written my Members of Congress encouraging a formal censure of Trump and a call for his resignation. While I do not think it is enough, it is a necessary first step that Congress must take to indicate that they are acting on behalf of our country. This simply cannot be a partisan issue.