Time for the 25th Amendment

It’s imperative that Republicans move to oust President Trump.

Time for the 25th Amendment

By Peter Fenn | Opinion Contributor

Aug. 18, 2017, at 2:15 p.m.

For Republicans and Democrats alike, businesspeople of all stripes, columnists from various political perspectives, and even those behind the counter at the grocery store, it is harder and harder to comprehend this president.

Even when he mentions past presidents such as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, let alone modern ones like Clinton or Bush or Obama, it becomes crystal clear he does not belong. As I have said before, this is the bad kind of not normal, rather than the good. This is a president way over his head, and while he was flirting with disaster before, he is creating it now.

He responds to his shrinking base by attacking fellow Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., in crass personal terms; his idea of uniting the nation is a wink and a nod to Nazis and racists and anti-semites; his leadership skills place everyone on the chopping block and create chaos and consternation among his advisers and throughout the country. He is an embarrassment to the nation and totally incapable of governing.

And my guess is there is more to come: Violence at increasing numbers of alt-right racist rallies, more nuclear brinksmanship with North Korea, more tension with China as well as our allies, more legislative paralysis on tax reform, infrastructure and health care. Also, Trump and his aides are intent on attacking efforts to clean up our environment and make progress on climate change, protect our national parks and public lands, enhance public education, and further the cause of voting rights, human rights and our civil liberties.

It is now time for Republicans, both in Congress and within this administration, to consider replacing Donald Trump. Many have already spoken out over these past seven months; many have formed pretty clear opinions of the damage he is doing; many understand that although politics is in play, this is about the country. Every day brings a new crisis, a new disaster that Republicans must confront. I sense that a foreign policy crisis of Trump’s making, where the generals and foreign policy advisers revolt, or a clear financial and political linkage with Russia made clear by Robert Mueller will precipitate invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of the president. It is very likely that we are getting very close to a tipping point.

Make no mistake, this is a big lift. It is the Republicans who must make a move, just as it would be to initiate impeachment proceedings, a long and drawn out process. But using the 25th Amendment can be fast. Although it comes initially from a decision by the vice president and a majority of the cabinet that the “President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” it realistically will come from the determination that two-thirds of the House and Senate, which affirms the cabinet’s decision, are convinced that Trump must be removed. He can protest, but Congress can remove him in 21 days.

Making such a move may be the smartest thing that Republicans can do. Many are petrified of living under the Trump sword of Damocles and they fear what might come next. They are tired of issuing statements of disagreement, facing themselves in the mirror when they are told to be good soldiers, and looking ahead to not only potentially disastrous elections but other consequences of Trump’s folly. Many Republicans have known the depth of the dangers of Trump since his rise, but have chosen to convince themselves that he will behave rationally and will have people around him who can steady the ship of state.

With every passing day, that notion melts away like so many icebergs in the summer. Truly, this is the summer of their discontent. And Republicans have a way to bring it to an end.