So, as published in an op-ed for the New York Times on Sept. 5, we are to believe that this “senior White House official” is leading or is part of a heroic resistance protecting the country from the president and the president from himself.
“There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.”
This closing paragraph is supposed to make us all sleep better and feel safer knowing that our heroes are quietly in charge in the White House behind the scenes. For me, the author’s platitudes accomplish nothing of the sort. It is the responsibility of the Cabinet, in the event that the president is unfit to perform his duties prescribed by the Office, to relieve the president of his duties, and report their concerns to Congress within four days. Congress then has the responsibility of allowing the president to resume his duties or to be on extended leave.
Here is what our senior anonymous official has to say about that: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
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This is a lame excuse for the Cabinet’s not doing its job. Putting country first? Hogwash. Constitutional Crisis? The 25th amendment being invoked the way it is supposed to be invoked? Hogwash again.
The real constitutional crisis is that we have failed to use the 25th amendment in a situation that begs for it. Yes, begs for it. We have an Administration which continues to exercise its privilege of power after being guilty of putting children in cages and selling out blatantly to the Russians. The entire world heard a reporter ask President Putin if he wanted President Trump to be elected and if he instructed his subordinates to help candidate Trump get elected. The entire world heard President Putin answer, “Yes I did.”
If the Cabinet wanted to protect the president from himself, and to protect the country from the president, it was then, at that exact moment when President Trump returned from Helsinki, as he stepped down off the airplane, he should have been taken into custody and evaluated for his dementia.
Thanks to the Goldwater rule, we psychiatrists are forbidden from diagnosing the president. So it is Omarosa Manigault-Newmann who is left to make the diagnosis. Ironically, she is the one that no one is taking seriously, and yet she has sized the situation up accurately, and she appears to be the only public figure speaking out about this. She has correctly labeled this president’s incapacity and the reason behind it.
So, dear Senior Official, do not break your arm patting yourself on the back. Stop biding your time and waiting for the American people to somehow topple this dangerous house of cards through the ponderous electoral system. And if you cannot find the courage to rally other Cabinet members, if the Cabinet cannot rally behind you, then take Omarosa as your inspiration.
Jeffrey R. Chambers Sr., M.D., lives in Durham.