|THE CAINE MUTINY|
Lost in the debate, such as it is, over whether Donald Trump is crazy is that there is a calculated cruelty to his actions -- an ethnic, racial and sexual brutality, a blood thirst for dominance and humiliation -- that is all too American considering our shameful history of subjugation and conquest, yet so un-American considering that so many of us and so many of our forebears have aspired to be better than that.
We are watching with morbid fascination the not slow-motion crackup of a man who is determinedly leading the U.S. to disaster, all the while telling ourselves as we wallow in our seeming helplessness that we saw the ship of state approaching the iceberg and anticipated the grinding collision of immovable objects, but couldn't do much of anything beyond scratching our heads, fingering our worry beads and taking to the streets in goofy pink caps as something awful was happening to our beloved country.
We knew that Donald Trump was temperamentally unsuited to be president, but his first week in office has been a five-alarm fire.
Beyond Trump declaring that Muslims and millions of other immigrants will be deported, a border wall built, torture and black-site prisons re-instituted, government agencies gagged and perceived enemies punished, there has been a tsunami of leaks from his inner circle over their alarm concerning his incessant television watching, tweeting, disinterest in the details and consequences of policy positions that rank amateurs are drafting, anger over inauguration crowd estimates, dwelling on conspiracies theories and obsessing about his image. His staff, meanwhile, is so overwhelmed by power struggles that it can barely function.
So how's that democracy thing going, anyway?
It has taken barely a week for the first flurry of articles to appear concerning a little-remembered section of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution about what can happen if the president is deemed unable to serve.§
Section 4 reads:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body of 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 powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
We are, of course, getting ahead of ourselves.
Cynics might suggest that Republicans would not take such a drastic action -- a legislative version of The Caine Mutiny, if you will -- until after a new Supreme Court justice is confirmed, tipping the balance back to the dark side, or most of the right-wing agenda is enacted, but in any event it is Republicans who are privately talking about how the king could be deposed since it is they who hold the keys to the kingdom.
There is ample precedent for such an action, although not quite under the bizarre circumstances in which we find ourselves with a messiah who grows into my Cheeto Jesus moniker a little more with every passing day.
There has been a temporary transfer of power several times since the JFK assassination, which prompted the amendment, once when Ronald Reagan had cancer surgery and twice when George W. Bush had colonoscopies, and of course when Gerald Ford rose to the highest office from the ashes of the Watergate scandal.
When I wrote not quite above, I was alluding to the closing days of the Reagan presidency when it was obvious The Gipper was losing his gripper as the early stages of Alzheimer's disease set in. What we have with Trump is even more obvious -- classic psychopathy -- and he has nearly four full years to serve.§
I have argued that Trump's impeachment may not be a question of whether, but when and why because the logjam of unethical and possibly criminal behavior piled up behind him is so immense that it will have to give way. But deposing the guy because he's nuts would be so much less messy.
Tragically, that blood thirst for dominance and humiliation is not necessarily a sign of insanity. After all, Trump is merely upholding a shameful aspect of our heritage. The question would then be when it can be determined that, all things considered, Trump finally has gone too far.
And what, pray tell, will Trump have had to do to go too far considering what he already has done?