By Ocean Eale
Why have the author of The New York Times op-ed and their colleagues not realized that President Trump is unable to fulfill his duties and invoke the 25th Amendment?
The author does not want to precipitate a constitutional crisis by invoking the 25th Amendment. But we have been in a perpetual constitutional crisis throughout this administration: from questions of whether Russia influenced our elections to the Mueller investigation and everything in between. So how could precipitating a crisis be any worse than failing to stop them?
Granted, invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment would be drastic. It allows for the Vice President and the majority of the Cabinet to tell Congress that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” allowing for the Vice President to assume control. That clause primarily applies to physical or mental incapacitation.
The President’s physical health is not in top form, but that is not the big question. His mental health is. The author writes that “Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.” The author even calls the President’s behavior “erratic.” This behavior is also evident in public, based on his Twitter habits and his lack of filter when he speaks.
I would also argue that morality should be included under this clause. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment was purposefully written broadly because the Framers could not predict every scenario where it could be invoked. The author themselves exclaim that “the root of the problem is the President’s amorality.” And it is very apparent. Right now, our President is an unindicted co-conspirator in a felony case. Also, look at how many times he has been sued or accused of sexual harassment, or his secret payment to Stormy Daniels. Furthermore, considering the Lewinsky scandal, there is a precedent of citing morality, at least in regard to impeachment, as to why someone should no longer be President.
There are numerous reasons against invoking the 25th Amendment. But there is another reason that the author implies: they are getting what they want. They say that “we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.” But what is the right direction?
They sound arrogant enough to believe that the right direction includes getting the policies they want. After all, they beam with pride that they have managed to achieve some of their goals, primarily “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, [and] a more robust military.” Soon, they and their colleagues, who have also bemoaned that the President “shows little affinity for ideas long espoused by conservatives,” will get their second Supreme Court Justice on the bench.
The author should stop trying to pretend that they are fulfilling some sort of patriotic duty. They are not invoking the 25th Amendment for the same reason that Congress refuses to hold the President accountable; they are getting what they want.