Overnight, we went from President Donald Trump’s top aide testing positive for COVID-19 to the President and First Lady entering quarantine to Trump announcing on Twitter that they have tested positive for the virus. It was a jarring enough series of events on their own, but social media had to weigh in and we have been inundated with the most typical takes you could expect from all over the place.
Naturally, you can count on the folks at The Lincoln Project, progressive pundits and activists, and across several media outlets to be jerks about this. But this about more than that. There is a ton of panic/fearmongering/agitation on the political implications on the election. Because of course there are.
Of course, it can’t be a Trump Administration event without calling on the 25th Amendment to be revoked.
That is to be expected. A bunch of leftists on Twitter believe they’ve FINALLY found the reason we should enact the 25th Amendment right now. Of course, he’s currently not showing symptoms and not unfit to serve, so the point is moot. If things take a turn the discussion can come up, but let’s not pretend we’re there yet.
Along with the 25th Amendment, we also have plenty of people speculating (stupidly so) that this is a tactic to delay the election – an accusation that never changes so much as it’s merely adapted to whatever the present crisis is.
They’re probably going to try to postpone the election. https://t.co/zvkiIXJURh
— Crutches&Spice ♿️ : Rude For A Disabled Person (@Imani_Barbarin) October 2, 2020
So…predictions about the Republican spin on this? Postpone the election? Declare a national emergency? Demand Biden to suspend campaigning? What’s it gonna be? I say imagine the craziest thing—and then the reality will be crazier. https://t.co/O3zpeucmJP
— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) October 2, 2020
All of this is terribly exciting and all, but it lacks a whole lot of factual basis. There are measures that are set up to keep the election moving forward in the event of an emergency, but postponing the election is not one of them. It’s also something Congress wouldn’t approve, and the fight wouldn ‘t be worth it for either party.
There is a ton of speculation about the line of succession, and the New York Times published a helpful guide to fuel that speculation (I’m not so much blaming the Times here as it’s valid journalism on its face, but the folks pushing it as a panic moment are more annoying).
The government’s continuity plan in case of a national emergency, which largely focuses on wide-scale attacks, outlines such a procedure. The presidential line of succession, laid out in a 1947 law, puts Vice President Mike Pence first in line to replace the president and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, second.
A point of contention, however, is that the Constitution does not offer clear guidance on how to determine whether a president is unable to perform the duties of office.
The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with any ambiguity about who leads the government when a president cannot. If the president becomes sick and the cabinet determines that he or she is unable to perform the office’s duties, the 25th Amendment grants the administration the power to temporarily transfer authority to the vice president. The president can then, once he deems himself or herself fit, reclaim the power of the presidency.
Other U.S. presidents have fallen seriously ill while in office — George Washington was feared close to death during a flu outbreak and Woodrow Wilson was gravely ill during peace talks after World War I in Paris — and four have died of natural causes while in office. Four others were assassinated.
Naturally, people are losing their minds on social media, and it’s pretty clear why: 2020 has been a nightmarish hellscape from which there has been no escape. Of course, the worst thing that could happen is maximum uncertainly one month away from the election, but that probably says more about our obsession with political outcomes and what’s going on with Washington D.C. than anything.
Regardless, there is not enough coffee to get me through today. How about you?