Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments (our emphasis) or of such other body as 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.” There are other important sections of the 25th dealing with presidential succession. But the fourth is our topic today.
— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) September 10, 2021
The immediate question is this: Joe Biden is incapacitated. It is obvious. The extent is unknown, but the reality is omnipresent. There has been talk of the veep and the Cabinet invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. It is just talk at this point. However, if it were to come to that, how is this any different than a legalized coup?
I am aware it should only be invoked in extreme circumstances. But, it can be invoked whenever the numbers in the Cabinet are there. Would Kamala Harris and the Biden Cabinet, to spare themselves further political embarrassment by Joe Biden, use the 25th to boot him from office for political, not health (mental or otherwise) reasons? I think they would. Hence, a legal coup.
This is as opposed to the magical coup that some brainless populists seem to favor to return former President Trump to power. I say magical because I read on social media many golly gee wow prognostications of Trump’s imminent return to the Oval Office. This is generally posited by the very gullible or the mentally handicapped, who believe that all constitutional process will somehow be thrown aside so their icon can lo and behold appear behind the Resolute Desk and once again govern. I know in my heart that the Soviets did a bad thing when they locked up certain political types in psychiatric hospitals. However, in this case the Reds may have had a decent point.
There have been cases in the past, specifically the last days of Wilson and FDR, where the 25th would have come in handy. But neither the veep nor the party of the president then had that lean and hungry look. They do today. They also have midterms coming up. With the Biden Bugout and the border hanging over them, not to mention other contentious issues and with the present margins so tight in Congress, the Democrats would love to choose a scapegoat and push the jettison button. His name could be Joe Biden.
If they tried that maneuver figure Blinken, Austin, Garland, Vilsack, Raimondo, and Walsh as probable for Biden. Why? They either owe Biden for rescuing them from the chorus or they are party apparatchiks, not ready to buck authority. The rest of the Cabinet in her corner would give Harris more than she needs to topple Biden. The Republicans, more than several having called for resignation, would he trapped in a corner, seemingly getting what they wanted, though losing their best sales tool in Joe Biden.
When? Significantly before the 2022 midterms. Say, next spring. Any number of reasons are already apparent, but Harris and her band will want a definitive incident to put the cherry on the cake. In the fullness of time between now and spring there will likely be a Biden gaffe or move so plainly confused and incompetent that it could serve as that cherry. It will he portrayed as for the public good and in keeping with the Constitution. Both may be true. But both would also serve the partisan interests of the Democrats.