Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scattershooting Roger Ailes, John Cornyn, and impeachment

Has today's news broken yet?

Frankly I have a raging case of Trump Fatigue.

-- Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden -- "Black Hole Sun", "Fell on Black Days") and disgraced Fox News founder Roger Ailes are both reported to have died this morning.  If I believed in a heaven and/or a hell, this would feel a lot like balancing their respective ledgers.

-- Thankfully I did not have to blog about John Cornyn, who two-stepped into the lead for FBI director and then right back out.  Here's hoping I don't have to blog about Joe Lieberman.

-- Impeachment is on the table for a few House Democrats, my former representative Al Green among them.  Not so much the Senate.  Gadfly has already shot down Russ Douthat's 25th Amendment solution, and this piece from Michael Walsh at Yahoo reinforces that with a scenario from MSU law professor Brian Kalt as to the Article 4 application:

In his New York Times column, Douthat argues that Trump’s situation is not what the “Cold War-era designers were envisioning” but that the president’s inability to “really govern” is testified to on a daily basis by his Cabinet.

“Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor,” Douthat wrote.

Kalt, who earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School and researches structural constitutional law and juries, argues however that using Section 4 in the case of Trump “would be a really bad idea.”

He believes that commentators like Douthat and (WaPo columnist Richard) Cohen might think Trump is nuts and unfit for the office, but says that the fact that he’s still lucid and able to communicate would make problematic the use of Section 4 as a means for removing him from office.

If Vice President Mike Pence and the majority of Trump’s Cabinet were to declare that Trump is disabled, Pence would temporarily assume the role of commander in chief, but then Trump could easily come back and declare that he is just fine. In this situation, Pence and the cabinet would then have four days to reiterate their declaration that he is disabled.

If they failed to do this, Trump would have his power back. If they did reiterate their claim, then Congress would assemble within 48 hours and vote on whether they think Trump is able to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Pence would stay on as president if he could secure a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate that Trump is unable to be president.

“If the president loses that vote he can always keep coming back and say, ‘Well, now I’m OK,’ and again Congress would have to vote,” Kalt said.

Section 4, it bears pointing out, has never been used.

Short of a Nixon-style resignation by Trump, those betting odds from January are going to have to be revised in about a month.  I think we're stuck with Cheetolini at least until 2018, when Democrats have a shot at retaking the House.  But keep in mind that the last time Nancy Pelosi was about to become Speaker -- immediately after the 2006 midterms -- she quickly took impeachment of W Bush off the table.  Would there be votes in the Senate in 2019 to remove Trump from office if the GOP still held the upper chamber and was the jury for the House's trial?  That's more possible in my opinion than Paul Ryan allowing a vote to bring forth articles between now and then.

And impeaching Trump gives us President Mike Pence, who in many ways could be considered worse than Trump.  Several have already noted this but J Clifford at Irregular Times says it best.

Eighteen more months of Trump Fatigue trumps President Pence.  Trust us on this.

Update: Ted Rall offers an amusing and contrary take.

-- Democrats should be focusing on the midterms -- and certainly the early scrum in CD-7 is evidence that they are -- but infighting between the 2016 primary combatants and their disciples, as well as policy purity, is still a serious damper on 2018 prospects.  CAP's Ideas Conference pointedly excluded Bernie Sanders, essentially because establishment Democrats (note nasty Kos' comment at that last link) simply do not like the country's most popular politician.  Robert Borosage at underscores that the Resistance seems more important than big ideas, a doom-filled strategy for orthodox and centrist Donkeys.  Still, they persist.

They want to keep quarreling over whether pro-life Democrats should be allowed in the party.  As I pointed out weeks ago, there are already vulnerable 2018 electeds -- Democratic Senators -- who SAY they are pro-life, but VOTE pro-choice.  Some folks need to wrap their brains around this nuance or else they're going to keep losing elections.

In the queue: the Texas Lege, with Dan Patrick steering, in a finish that is looking like a demolition derby, the night they drove old Dixie down in New Orleans, the Seth Rich murder making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and the latest on Houston's homeless and the city ordinance opposing their right to exist.


Gadfly said...

Thanks for the shout-out. Added your Clifford link to my piece; his warnings about a failed impeachment would similarly apply to a failed 25th Amendment, I figure.

Gadfly said...

I'd seen Rall's piece also. Given that Pence has already formed a PAC, I wouldn't write off Rall's line of thought.