Monday, November 04, 2019


A despotic, ignorant president trashes American laws and norms every day, and what does the editorial page of America's Newspaper of Record believe is the most vital issue to highlight on a Monday morning? The extremely remote possibility that the Speaker of the House might become president, as a result of an impeachment process that's quite likely to end with not a single Republican in the Senate voting to convict, at a time when no attention whatsoever has been devoted in Congress to the possibility of impeaching the vice president.

Here, at a bloated 1651 words, is the lone item to appear in the editorial slot of today's print New York Times:

"It ought to be fixed immediately"! Drop everything and deal with this, in order to prevent something that won't happen from happening!
... Consider the following scenario, which would have seemed wildly implausible only a few months ago: Donald Trump is forced from office over the Ukraine-Biden shakedown. Vice President Mike Pence takes over, and before he can name his own vice president, he is impeached and removed for his own role in the scandal. The nation is now led by ... President Nancy Pelosi.

It’s true: Under a 1947 federal law, the speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, after the vice president, even if she or he is of a different party than the president.
This scenario seems exactly as implausible as it did at the height of Russiagate, which some liberals believed could bring down Pence as well as Trump. That was an MSNBC pipe dream. So is this. Democrats are having a hard enough time impeaching Trump.
Don’t the American people choose presidents largely because of their parties?

Yes, they do, which is why the prospect of Ms. Pelosi, the veteran San Francisco Democrat, sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the middle of a Republican administration should trouble anyone who values stability and democratic legitimacy.
Yes, she's a "San Francisco Democrat" -- right-wing shorthand since the 1980s for "not really an American." Yes, she's from San Francisco, as opposed to our red-white-and-blue president, who until very recently maintained his official residence in ... (checks notes) ... a gold-plated triplex on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

And as for whether "the American people choose presidents largely because of their parties," haven't we been told endlessly that Trump was put over the top in key Rust Belt states by voters who aren't diehard Republicans?
The scenario could well be enough to prevent Republican senators from voting to oust Mr. Trump, even if they are convinced that the case for his removal is strong.
Oh, please. We continue to be told that many Republicans are sick of Trump, and yet we know from the House vote on formalizing the impeachment inquiry, in which no Republican joined with the Democrats, that predictions of a handful of GOP votes to convict in the Senate are probably wildly optimistic. They won't all close ranks because they fear a Pelosi presidency. They'll close ranks because they fear Trump himself and Trump-cult voters, who are also their voters.
... The original succession law, passed in 1792, designated only two people after the vice president: the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House. In case either took over, a special election would be held to choose a new president.

... it’s a whopping conflict of interest for a lawmaker to be leading an impeachment inquiry that could result in her own ascension to the presidency. Consider what happened in 1868, when a Republican-led House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson. In the Senate trial, one of Johnson’s most outspoken critics was Ben Wade, a Republican who also happened to be the president pro tempore. Wade voted to convict, along with 34 of his colleagues, one vote shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to remove Johnson from office. The vice presidency was vacant at the time, which meant Wade was effectively voting to make himself the president.
Yes, and it didn't happen, because the Framers made removal from office difficult. It's appropriate that a two-thirds vote in the Senate is needed to convict. (The Trump cult is the problem right now, not the Constitution.) But Nancy Pelosi isn't in the Senate. She can't vote to make herself president. Democrats in the Senate can't do it for her unless at least twenty Republican senators voter to convict Trump and an impeachment investigation of Pence is initiated and he's impeached and at least twenty Republican senators vote to convict him.

This is not going to happen -- and yet Wegman insists that "Congress can and should pass a law tomorrow removing legislators from the line" of succession. Tomorrow! This can't wait!

Why is this running in the paper every right-winger believes is the most important liberal media outlet? Because the liberal media has internalized the hatred of Democrats it has absorbed from right-wingers as they've worked the refs for the past forty years.

Unsurprisingly, this editorial is accompanied by a photo of Nancy Pelosi's shoes -- a reminder that if its preposterous scenario ever were to come to pass, the presidency would fall into the clutches of -- omigod -- a pantsuit-wearing older woman with coastal values! What will retired white men in blue-collar diners think?

How would this issue be discussed if the parties were reversed? If a Republican House were impeaching President Hillary Clinton and there was a belief that Vice President Tim Kaine was next? I'll grant that the Times might take the same position on succession, as might some Democratic politicians. But the discussion would be dominated by right-wing voices who would insist that critics of the line of succession were seeking to subvert hallowed traditions, all in an effort to deprive Kevin McCarthy of what should be soon be rightfully his, as our patriotic ancestors intended. That's because right-wingers know how to take their own side in an argument.

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