With the arrival of the Trump administration we have a state of governance in which no matter where you turn there is either paralysis or uncertainty. The Supreme Court is in a deadlock; we have an attorney general who had to recuse himself from involvement in a major issue; a Congress without a compass, moral or otherwise; and an incoming secretary of housing who doesn’t know the difference between an immigrant and a slave.
And topping off this discombobulation is a president whose latest early morning tweets is to blame President Obama for tapping his phones during the last election.
So, what’s to be done? Can we start at the top of the government with the removal of the president to clean up this mess?
For several weeks now there has been talk about invoking the 25th Amendment and a provision that allows the vice president and most the cabinet to author a letter to Congress indicating the president’s inability to “discharge the duties of his office.”
When a sitting president accuses a former president of tapping his phones, there is a clear indication that he’s out of touch. First, the president is not authorized to call for such action. That’s a process that must be court-ordered and approved by the attorney general, who is practically, now, dysfunctional.
Removing Trump from office without impeachment would not be easy because it’s unrealistic to expect Vice President Pence and members of the cabinet to unite for such an action. And Trump could quickly remove members of his cabinet if he discovered such a move was in motion.
According to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, Congress can form its own body to evaluate Trump’s fitness to govern that would be able to sidestep his cabinet. This body would not need any medical diagnosis of Trump and could compose its own criteria to judge the president’s ability to govern.
All such discussion and possible means to remove Trump are theoretical and would require a concerted and sustained effort from Congress, which, as we know, is ruled by the Republican Party. Even talk about a president’s mental condition is a cause for alarm, and it becomes particularly disconcerting if a critical situation arises requiring a quick and sound judgment.
Trump hasn’t demonstrated during these first days in office that he can render a thoughtful decision. His tweets are evidence of a man who makes snap judgments without mulling the consequences or without consultation with his staff, though that would not be a useful course of action in this case.
As for Trump’s recent allegations against Obama about the wiretapping, Sen. Al Franken may be on the right track when he concluded that the president’s tweets are merely a gambit of distraction. He is “trying to distract the American people from the facts by putting forth outrageous claims,” Franken tweeted.
There is good reason to expect more outrageous claims because more distractions will be necessary for a clueless president without a rudder of intelligence or decency.