Politics

What If Kaine Had to Assume the Presidency?

Conservatives warn Clinton's running mate could take the nation in an even more radical direction

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election but subsequently cannot fulfill her duties due to a health crisis, the process of installing new leadership could be constitutionally chaotic — and Americans could be left with a president to the left of Joe Biden, or even Bernie Sanders.

“[Tim] Kaine is the single-most radical senator and the single-most radical member in all of Congress,” Dan Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union in Washington, D.C., told LifeZette bluntly of Clinton’s running mate.

“Kaine has a long history of being in public service, so we know how he acts … He says one thing, does another.”

The nation would head into uncharted waters if an unhealthy President Clinton — a global leader faced with terrorist threats, waves of new immigrants, and unstable economy — had to vacate the presidency.

Or be removed from it.

If this sounds implausible, just ask the person next to you — in a late-September Breitbart/Gravis poll, only 50 percent of Americans believe Clinton is physically up to the job of being commander-in-chief.

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“In recent times, transfer of power has only happened by resignation — meaning the position became open — and that’s when Richard Nixon resigned,” Horace Cooper, a former teacher of constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, said. “We haven’t had a modern utilization of a transfer of presidential power since the 25th Amendment was written.”

In the event of a health crisis that the president acknowledges, the constitutional path is clear. “The president can send a letter to the House and Senate saying that she is no longer competent to carry out her responsibilities,” said Cooper. “Distinct from a resignation, this would be a temporary measure. At that point, the vice president becomes the acting president.”

[lz_infobox]The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the vice president, as well as responding to presidential disabilities.[/lz_infobox]

What is of much more interest, said Cooper, is what could happen in a situation where Kaine or other cabinet members believed that a President Clinton — notorious for being secretive about her health — is no longer competent to lead due to physical or neurological concerns.

“The vice president must take a survey of the cabinet and — in writing — state that a majority of all cabinet officers also believe that the president is no longer competent,” said Cooper. “Notice that with this, there is no medical requirement, no certification needed — the president doesn’t need to be in a coma, for example. The process is triggered when the vice president is able to convince a majority of the cabinet in writing that the president is not competent.”

Clinton, who has denied serious health issues after even a collapse on 9/11, might never concede ill health.

“After a period, the president—and we don’t actually know what that period is — may send a letter on her own behalf — without a vote of the cabinet — saying that she is ready to lead once again. If the vice president and the cabinet object, they must again do so in writing.”

What if Kaine and the cabinet had continuing fears about a President Clinton’s competency?

“There is a requirement that if the vice president and the majority of the cabinet reject the determination the president has made about her own fitness, then that must then be brought to Congress for a vote,” said Cooper. “All manner of chaos can reign if a vice president and cabinet were willing to overturn the decision the American people have made in selecting a president. There is no medical requirement for them to be able to do so.”

When the vice president invokes the 25th Amendment, said Cooper, he has to explain why: “If he said, ‘I’m unable to visit the president, we’re only hearing from her spouse or chief of staff’ — this would allow for a majority vote of cabinet.”

Sound far-fetched? As secretary of state, working with more autonomy than she would have as president, Clinton was often “confused,” top aide Huma Adebin wrote a colleague in a January 2013 email.

The message, to coworker Monica Hanley, was about Clinton’s schedule of calls with foreign leaders, including an 8:00 a.m. call with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Have you been going over calls with her for tomorrow? So she knows singh [sic] is at 8?’ Abedin asked Hanley in an email just before 5:00 p.m. on a Saturday.

“She was in bed for a nap by the time I heard that she had an 8am call,” Hanley replied three minutes later. “Will go over with her.”

“Very imp[ortant] to do that. She’s often confused,” Abedin told her.

A Kaine presidency could happen — and could be the most radically liberal in history, according to a prominent conservative organization.

[lz_table title=”ACU V.P. Nominee Conservative Ratings” source=”American Conservative Union”]VP Nominee,ACU Rating
Mike Pence,99.0
Dick Cheney,90.8
Jack Kemp,88.8
Paul Ryan,88.6
Bob Dole,82.4
Dan Quayle,80.3
Gerald Ford,64.0
Lloyd Bentsen,40.5
Joe Lieberman,15.1
Al Gore,14.6
Tom Eagleton,12.9
Joe Biden,12.4
John Edwards,12.2
Geraldine Ferraro,8.3
Edmund Muskie,6.4
Hubert Humphrey,5.0
Walter Mondale,3.7
Tim Kaine,0.0
[/lz_table]

The American Conservative Union, the organization that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has rated all the major party vice presidential nominees dating back to 1965. They found Tim Kaine to be the most radically liberal and assigned the Virginia senator a score of zero — beating the likes of Al Gore, Joe Biden, John Edwards, and Walter Mondale.

In its 2015 rantings of U.S. senators’ ideology, the ACU gave Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders a score of nine out of 100, 100 being the most conservative. Kaine scored a zero.

“Kaine has a long history of being in public service, so we know how he acts,” said Schneider of the ACU. “He says one thing, does another. When he ran for the governor of Virginia, he made a series of statements — but when it was time for him to actually govern, he did the opposite.”

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“As a candidate he said he would stand for the Second Amendment,” continued Schneider. “But as a governor, he actually attacked the Second Amendment. As a candidate, he said he would stand for tax reform; as a governor, he increased taxes.”

“Similarly, as a senator, he has spoken out of both sides of his mouth,” Schneider continued. “He will often refer to his Catholicism when asked about tricky social issues, suggesting that he is grappling with some of these issues, when in fact his voting record is hard-left.”

This is the Tim Kaine we can all see objectively, said Schneider.

“Kaine is a radical, but someone who comes across as very reasonable in tone and temperament,” Schneider noted. “He has been wrong on every policy issue during his three years in the U.S. Senate. He voted consistently against faith-based organizations, he has refused to help the Kurds fight against ISIS, and the 20-week pain-capable bill that 70-80 percent of Americans support concerning abortion — Kaine opposed it.”

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