Thursday, August 24, 2017

Don't hold your breath on removal of the president

There was a moment, this morning, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in which the host asked advertising/marketing guru Donny Deutsch how he would advise a CEO from General Motors if that company were alternating between conflicting advertising/branding messages every day (as trump is doing between heal/divide).  Deutsch opened with the word “sociopath”; Scarborough immediately cut him off. “We don’t need any psycho-babble here; tell me what you would tell the GM CEO”….or words to that effect.

The American medical/political/sociological culture has put the psychiatric “issue” off the table, relegating it to the dangerous zone of denial, refusing to fund it, refusing to acknowledge it as a real and pressing problem needing serious and focused, professional and political attention, as if “it” does not deserve legitimacy in a country governed by macho testosterone. America would rather incarcerate thousands of mostly men and mostly black and Hispanic, who are addicted to drugs, both prescription and illicit than treat them for their addiction. And this is just one of the many outstanding issues facing law enforcement and the health care system, another target for gutting by the current administration.How could “real men” ever acknowledge that they might have an emotional/psychological/psychiatric issue if they refuse to acknowledge the mere existence and significance of their own emotions?

And when this morning’s moment on Morning Joe occurs, and Deutsch reverts to “if you say different things on different days, you will lose credibility and your customers will come to pay no attention to you”….(or something like that), you know that the question of trump’s psychiatric state of mind is not to be permitted exposure by lay persons, leaving the issue to the professional psychiatrists. At least some of those professionals, basing their responses on the public utterances of trump, have already declared that he is out of touch with reality. And one of the “lay’ definitions of ‘insanity’ is “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results”. Nevertheless, it was the advertising/marketing guru who spoke frankly, even if he used a term that was censored by Scarborough.

Of course, an advertising/marketing guru has no professional credentials to use the word “sociopath” to describe trump. The network would also attempt to avoid any possibility of a law suit, should the clinical diagnosis provoke one. And yet, the question of his “fitness” for office is gaining legitimacy and public airing, as it should. Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, went public this week with his own expression of the danger trump presents, should he, in a pique, decide to unleash a nuclear weapon, an act that no law would prevent, prohibit, or even delay. He is, after all, the president, and he obviously believes that there is no law that applies to him, and behaves as if nothing can or will “fetter” his will.

Section Four of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution reads:

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 power and duties of the office as Acting President.

The Guardian writes: In practice what that means is Mike Pence plus 13 of Mr. Trump’s 24 cabinet members would have to agree…..John D. Feerick, former dean of Fordham Law School who served as one of its architects, said Senators who signed the amendment into law were clear it must be based on “reliable facts regarding the president’s physical or mental faculties,” not personal prejudice…..
Within 21 days of being triggered, the amendment requires two-thirds of both houses to uphold the decision. If they don’t then power reverts to the president.(August 23, 2017)

Obviously, this is a very high bar, and one that is highly unlikely to be crossed anytime soon.

The facts that are being reported:

·      that trump has shouted and sworn at Senators McConnell, Corker, and Tsilli for not protecting him in the Russian ‘collusion’ affair, and
·      that evidence now alleges that the Russian “dossier” contains reliable information
·      that there is pressure mounting to make that document available to the public
·      that former FBI Director Comey was fired by the president because he refused to “protect” the president by shutting down the FBI inquiry into collusion with Russia and promising his loyalty to the president
·      that trump is wild about the preparation of a bill that would protect Special Prosecutor Mueller from being fired by the president
·      that the president’s “fitness” for office is being publicly questioned in many quarters
·      that McConnell wonders out loud whether this presidency can be sustained
….mean that these facts are all compounding the political noose that is tightening around the neck of the occupant of the Oval Office.

Yesterday, reports that Vice President Pence had initiated a Political Action Committee, a fundraising organ for his own political purposes, would also be cause for anxiety inside the Oval Office. And Bannon’s firing, “freeing” him from the ‘constraints imposed on him while a White House acolyte, could also beat a little louder on drums that trump’s ears find cacophonous.

Is there enough evidence, whether that evidence is considered “legal” or “political,” to bring this president down? Perhaps not yet. Nevertheless, if and when the evidence reaches the tipping point, and specific legal steps begin to happen, the world can count on the trump “deplorables” to take to the streets railing against “fake news” and unfair treatment of their chosen candidate for the highest office in the world.

Clearly, the rest of the world is watching with growing interest and probably anxiety and concern as to whether the United States has become little more than a struggling democracy, comparable and analogous more every day to those banana republics where dictators are thrown out by a variety of methods, both peaceful and not so much.
Even the Foreign Minister of Mexico, upon hearing trump announce in Phoenix that NAFTA would probably have to be terminated, declared that the trump statement would be ignored and that Mexico’s delegation would continue to participate in negotiations already officially under way. Canadian representatives today are meeting with the Haitian community in Florida, to discuss the options available to a growing number of Haitian refugees who have been crossing the Canadian-American border, to escape what many believe will be a trump move to terminate their temporary immigration status in the U.S. So there are already serious and observable implications from the instability inside the White House, implications the world neither needs nor has the time or the resources to address.

We can all hope that this melodrama of monumental “ego” proportions, with global implications, will end sooner rather than later and with a whimper not a bang, and we can all begin to breath more easily.

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