Here come the jesters, one, two, three
It’s all part of my fantasy
January 20th, 2017, 12:01 PM
Mother Nature has been kind. The sun is shining, and the temperature is about as pleasant as could reasonably be hoped for on a January day in Washington, DC. With a large crowd below, and a smaller group behind him, a tall, thin man stands on the west portico of the United States Capitol. Facing the Chief Justice, he places his left palm on an old Bible, raises his right hand to shoulder height, and speaks these words:
“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I know what you’re thinking. “Uh, Chief, are you crazy? Or did you just type in the wrong year?” Well, the answer to the first question is probably; to the second, definitely not. I was describing the scene at start of President Obama’s third term. Of course, the part about the weather was pure speculation, but the rest of it should be pretty accurate.
“But wait just a minute. Isn’t there something in the Constitution, some amendment or other, that says that he can’t do that?” OK, I assume that you’re referring to the 22nd amendment, which you believe says that nobody can serve as president for more than two terms. Let me assure you that it says no such thing. The first clause of that amendment, and, since there is nothing else in the Constitution to expand or clarify it, the only part that matters for the purposes of this discussion, reads: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,”. The key word here is elected. It doesn’t say anything about serve as President.
There have, if memory serves, been eight men, the first being President Tyler, who, after being elected as Vice President, assumed the presidency upon the death of the sitting president. The first four of these served only the remainder of the former president’s term. The next four went on to be elected to a single term of their own. And one man, President Ford, who was never elected at all, having been appointed and confirmed as vice president after the resignation of Vice President Agnew, and became president upon the resignation of President Nixon. The point of this is that there are ways to become president without being elected to that office. And there is, as far as I know, nothing in the Constitution that says that a former president, or a sitting president, can’t be elected to the office of Vice President, even if he has already been elected twice to the office of the President. Section 1 of the 25th amendment says: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.” So there it is. A constitutional path toward the scenario described at the top of this piece. Not an easy path, but a possible path nonetheless.
So, that brings up three questions. First, is President Obama interested in going down this path? Second, if he is interested, can he actually pull it off? Third, how might he go about pulling it off?
Only the President knows the answer to the first question. He most certainly has an agenda, and appears to be going about his business as though he only has a little more than a year to complete it. But, nothing that I’ve seen indicates to me that he’s in any hurry to start his post-presidential life. You know, I definitely can empathize with him here. Two things that I really hate doing are changing homes and changing jobs. For the last 13 years, I’ve been driving for the same company that I started with. I could probably make a little more money if I took my experience moved on, but what a hassle. Looking for another company, filling out applications, interviews, orientation, new people, different equipment, different procedures, different customers, different locations, well, you get the idea. Not worth the pain, since I’m doing okay where I am. And the President has a much sweeter gig than I do. And, as for moving, even a bigger pain in the butt. Sorting through the junk (I’m something of a pack-rat) figuring out what to get rid of, and how; packing; dealing with movers; etc. And the minor detail of finding a new place to live. And the paperwork. God, I hate paperwork. It’s all enough to make me want to be sure that I have a logical answer for Mrs. Chief every time she gets it in her head that she’s tired of the same old house. Did I mention the paperwork? And that’s just my house. The President would be leaving much better digs than would I. So, with all that, and because otherwise I would have no reason to continue writing this, let’s assume that the answer to the first question is yes.
That brings us to the second question, can he pull it off? Well, if anyone can, it’s Barack Obama. Whatever you might think of him as a leader, manager, or policy maker (and if you haven’t figured it out, I don’t think much of him), few would deny that he is an all-star player of the game of politics. He can ram his agenda down his opponents’ throats the way that Michael Jordan could slam a basketball through his opponents’ hoop. Carrying his program, he can accelerate, cut, and weave around and through Congress the way that Barry Sanders (not to be confused with Bernie Sanders) could carry a football past a defensive lineman. As an aside, I felt sorry for Barry Sanders. Unlike Michael Jordan, who won championships as a great player on a good team (Chicago Bulls), he was a great player on a lousy team (Detroit Lions), and was never a champion. It got to him, and he retired from football at a relatively young age, when he was on the verge of becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. But I digress. Or maybe not. Barack Obama is the champion of his game. Nobody has been able to beat him yet, and he’s still relatively young, so there’s no reason to believe that he can’t be the one to set a new league record. So, in the interest of moving on, we’ll answer yes to question two.
Now it gets interesting. We’ve made it to question three. How?
I don’t claim to be nearly as shrewd as President Obama, and I certainly don’t have access to the information that he has, so I can only speculate based on what I see today. But I’ll give it a shot. A word of caution here. Before you continue reading this, you may want to accessorize your attire. Get up, go to the kitchen, grab a roll of foil, and make yourself a hat. You may need it. Go ahead, I’ll wait here. And while you’re working on it, you can think about this:
Simple Fact of Life: No matter how improbable something seems, stranger things have happened.
Cue “Final Jeopardy” music
Oh good, I see that you’re back. Nice hat. Now let’s figure this out.
In order for this scenario to work, three things need to happen:
1. Obama needs to become the vice-presidential candidate.
2. He needs to win the election.
3. The president-elect needs to resign (or die).
And, of course, while not absolutely necessary, it would be better if these things could appear to happen in some sort of natural order, as opposed to being the result of some bizarre, tinfoil-hat conspiracy.
For Obama to get the VP nomination, he will have to ensure that the presidential nod goes to the right candidate. That is, someone who will put him on the ticket. And, of course, be willing to step down when the time comes. I believe that, whether by plan or by accident, the stars are aligning to make this easier than might be expected. The key here is Hillary Clinton. Although I doubt it, it is possible that she’s involved in the plan. More likely, she’s just a convenient stooge, and doesn’t realize how expertly she’s being played. I don’t think that she’s that smart. Her entire career has been an extension of the one clever thing that she’s done in her life: convince Bill to marry her. But that was enough to allow her to surround herself with sycophants who convinced her and her massive ego that she had some talent. She actually believes that she can be president. She’s like the fullback who thinks that he will someday carry the ball across the goal line for the winning touchdown. Thinks that right up until the moment that he breaks his leg while blocking for a Barry Sanders (not to be confused with Bernie Sanders). And, it’s a lot easier to get hurt when the guy behind you isn’t carrying a football, but instead, a knife.
And the fullback metaphor works well here, because that’s her job, and, wittingly or unwittingly, she’s doing it well. Her task in Obama’s game plan is to clear the field ahead of the ball carrier. So, she went into the first debate with one semi-serious and three not serious competitors. Before they were done sweeping the floor in the debate hall, two of the not serious were gone. Martin O’Malley, the remaining not serious, may or may not hang around until Iowa, but he’ll be gone not later than the day after New Hampshire. So that leaves Hillary (and Obama) to deal with Bernie Sanders (not to be confused with Barry Sanders). I call him a semi-serious candidate because I think that that’s what he is. He’s the Ron Paul of the left. Rabid followers, big crowds, but too far outside the mainstream, even in this “year of the outsider.” When it comes time to vote, the Democrats will go for someone who they deem to be “more electable.” After Super Tuesday, he’ll join the others on the ash heap of failed wannabes. Mrs. Clinton will have the nomination sewn up tight, and have nothing to do besides bask in her own brilliance, raise money, and trash Republicans. She’ll have the rousing endorsement of the former candidates, and every other big shot that the Democratic Party can trot out. Except for a couple of them, who will, in true statesmanlike fashion, stay above the fray while they attend to the nation’s business and plan for their “retirement.” But don’t worry, Hillary, they’ll be out there helping you raise the cash and slime the GOP. Why, they may even provide you with some sound campaign advice, like, for instance, maintain suspense, and therefore interest, by not announcing your VP pick until the convention.
So now the field is clear for Obama. Well, almost clear. There’s still that annoying Hillary person to deal with. My, my, my. What to do about her? Do you really have to ask? Just in the off-chance event that you haven’t figured it out, allow me to call your attention to this:
18 U.S. Code 793 (f)
Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
I know, you and Bernie Sanders (not to be confused with Barry Sanders) are sick and tired of hearing about Hillary’s e-mails. But read what the law says. This situation is as serious as anyone in power wants to make it. Just ask General Petraeus. If Obama wants her to be, Hillary is in big trouble. It has become more than clear that there was classified information relating to the national defense on her personal server. And that this server did not meet the security requirements to be considered a “proper place of custody.” Even her most ardent supporters are not seriously challenging those facts. They say that no real harm was done. Maybe. Doesn’t matter. They say that we don’t know that any information was actually compromised. Maybe. Doesn’t matter. She says that the information wasn’t labeled as classified or that she didn’t know that it should have been. Sorry, Hillary, but you were the Secretary of State. It was your job to know what should have been classified. Once your employment situation rises above the level of push broom operator, the incompetence defense just doesn’t cut it. Nobody is accusing her of being a spy, or of any other malicious acts against the United States. But the law does not require that there be malice, only gross negligence. In fact, she could be charged for simply not reporting this problem to her superior officer, which for the Secretary of State is only the President of the United States. So, if we use history as a guide, what do think that the chances are that he didn’t know about this until he saw it on the TV news? Sorry, Hillary, but anytime he wants you, he’s got you dead to rights. And at your age, ten years could be tantamount to a life sentence. Oh, don’t worry, you’re not going to get prison. But you’re not going get the nomination either.
Now that we know what he’s going to use to take her down, what will be the method and timing that will be the most advantageous. Again, I don’t claim to be nearly as savvy in such matters as President Obama, but I, with a flair for the dramatic, know what I would do. I would make sure that Attorney General Lynch (a team player) quietly arranges for an indictment to be handed down in mid-July. And I would have her arrested on July 22nd. Publicly. Maybe even, with luck, in the middle of a speech. Cuffed and perp-walked off of the stage, in full view of more cameras than you can count. Timing the moment of the take-down would be the easiest part of the whole process, seeing as how Mrs. Clinton has her own Secret Service detail, except that they don’t work for her, but for the President. And, of course, the official story would be that the timing was accidental, that she was arrested as soon as the indictment was received. Of course, I’m not sure that my scenario would be the best way to go, and the President is much better at that sort of thing than I would ever want to be. But do you wonder why I chose that date and method? Two reasons. The first, and less important, is news value. You see, July 21st is the last day of the Republican convention. The night that Lindsey Graham will give his speech accepting his party’s nomination for president. (Hey, if we’re going to be crazy, we might just as well go all the way, right?) Do you remember 2008? On the morning after Senator Obama gave his speech, flanked by the Styrofoam columns, the media was all geared up to tell us how wonderful it all was. And then John McCain trotted out Sarah Palin, and it was “Barack who?” That’s the value of stealing the news cycle.
But the more important reason for that date is that the Democratic Party convention opens on July 25th. Delegates from across the country are en route to Philadelphia, ready to bestow their party’s crown on the soon-to-be first female President of the United States. Except that it’s rapidly becoming apparent that she won’t be there to accept it. She has other things on her mind. Like trying to make bail. And wondering if she’ll be allowed to wear her orange pant-suit instead of the orange jump-suit. With all of the other campaigns long since shut down, and everybody who is anybody in the party (well, almost) having spent the last few months singing the praises of Madam Secretary, trying to get closer to her than Bill has in decades, the Democrats are in even more total disarray than usual. Damn federal grand jury! If they were going to indict her, why couldn’t they do it sooner. At least then we would have had time to find another candidate. Wow, we don’t even know who was supposed to be the VP pick. Oh, well. I’m sure it’s nothing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz can’t handle.
Uh, I think that it is just a little bit beyond Debbie’s skill set. The party is in trouble. Big trouble. They need someone, and they need someone fast. Someone that America might be willing to trust. Someone with experience. Someone who’s been above the fray. Someone familiar, that everybody knows. Someone who is untainted by scandal. And someone who hasn’t spent the last three months wrapping his arms around former fullback, current stabbed-in-the-back, Hillary Clinton.
Someone like … wait for it … someone like Joe Biden.
Now old Joe had thought about running. In fact, he had a whole lot of support. But he ended his campaign before he started it. Said that there just wasn’t enough time left. But he also said that if his personal situation had been different, he still might have liked to be Mr. President. Maybe. Or maybe he knows what kind of shape the country’s in, and, unlike President Obama, knows that he can’t fix it. He doesn’t want what he expects to happen over the next four years to be hung around his neck. But he is, if nothing else, loyal. A real team player. That’s why he agreed to Obama’s scheme.
A hasty? meeting is arranged at the White House, with the President, Vice President, Debbie, and most of the rest of the DNC. It is here that Biden reluctantly? agrees to accept the nomination. But he shares certain concerns. Because besides the obvious political issues, there are several looming crises of state, both domestic and foreign. Russia in the Middle East. China and the Southeast Asian countries. Not to mention racial friction and a collapsing health insurance system. He believes that what America needs more than anything else is s steady hand at the helm; continuity of leadership. So he makes a suggestion, and a request. And reluctantly?, Barack Obama agrees to accept the VP nomination.
Back to Philadelphia, where the delegates, while somewhat confused by the goings on, are relieved to have been delivered a solution that didn’t require them to take a stand or to do much thinking. The plan was sold to them, and the nation, as the best that could be done, under the circumstances. And besides, the whole Vladimir Putin – Dmitry Medvedev thing seems to have worked out pretty well for the Russians. Well, that wasn’t the main selling point, but it was there, in the background. And with no other options, the delegates simulated enthusiasm, and unanimously confirmed the 2016 ticket.
Requirement #1 completed.
Now the Biden/Obama ticket has to win the election. With all of the nonsense that led up to their nomination, this might seem like a highly unlikely outcome. But they do have several things working in their favor. For starters, there’s that cadre of true believers that are ecstatic over the prospect of another four years of Barack Obama being, if not the actual president, the man perceived to be pulling the strings. Think Putin. And the media will endlessly hammer on the sacrifice that these two patriots, so deserving of their rest, are making for the good of the nation.
Don’t forget that, for the past several years, Americans have been force-fed the idea that anyone who dared to suggest that people should be required to prove their identity in order to vote could only be a member of the KKK. We’ll never know, because we won’t have any way to find out, how many Biden/Obama votes that scam netted. But it could be a whole bunch. In a few key states, it might be enough to tip the balance.
And then there’s that whole bully pulpit and opportunity to look presidential thing that gives any incumbent a decided advantage. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be lucky enough to get another super-storm Sandy and another hug from Chris Christie. Well, they can’t really count on that. Too bad that Osama bin Laden is still dead. Or is he? (Just kidding. No need to adjust your hat.) But there’s always the tried-and-true foreign crisis thing. Like maybe stir up some really serious crap with North Korea, and then whack Kim Jung Un by sending Dennis Rodman over there full of explosive body piercings. No? Well, what about China? Think about those artificial islands in the South China Sea. This is starting to look like it could lead to a major confrontation. The United States is starting to challenge their territorial claims, and the Chinese are sounding increasingly belligerent about it. What if (OK, now you may want to adjust your hat) it’s all a ruse? I always tend to think of the Chinese as, first and foremost, shrewd businessmen. What if there’s a deal in which tensions will seem to escalate to an alarming level, America stands firm, and the Chinese then appear (at least to Americans) to back down and flee with their tails between their legs? Think October, 1962. How would that be for an October surprise? Of course, on the first Wednesday of November they would be handsomely rewarded for their consideration.
So, with all those things going for them, the idea that the Biden/Obama ticket could win isn’t really all that far-fetched.
Requirement #2 completed.
The final requirement should be the simplest, since it’s already been planned out and completely within the control of Obama and Biden. Unless, of course, Joe changes his mind. But I think that Obama has considered that possibility, and finds it to be highly unlikely. Otherwise he would have found somebody else to fill the role. And besides, if exposed, a fraud of this magnitude would be ruinous for Biden. He would almost certainly be the first president to be impeached and removed from office. Granted, Obama would go down too, but people with as vindictive a nature as he appears to have are often willing to pay that price in order to exact their revenge. So I think that the rest will play out according to the script. Here’s how it might go.
Throughout the months of November and December, Biden and Obama will be seen to be preparing for the transition. Biden will be naming the members of his cabinet, who will bear an uncanny resemblance to the members of Obama’s cabinet. No real surprise there, even if this were actually legit. There will be the expected meetings and briefings and so on and so forth. On January 6th Joe Biden will preside over a meeting in the House chamber with Paul Ryan, or whoever the Speaker du jour is, where the electoral votes will be counted, the election certified, and he will officially declare himself to be the president-elect.
A couple of days later, without a whole lot of fanfare, Vice President/president-elect Biden will be seen going into the office of a physician, probably one of the two or three cardiologists that are doing well under Obamacare. There he’ll sit for an hour or two, probably playing cribbage with the doctor. Then, somber-faced, he will be seen to emerge, and return to his residence at the Naval Observatory. The next day, along with the doctor, he will be seen entering the office of the other successful cardiologist. Three-handed cribbage this time. Then they will all go to the White House for a meeting with the President. I seem to recall hearing somewhere that spades is Obama’s favorite four-handed card game. By this time, it’s late afternoon, but nonetheless, the White House press corps is summoned to the briefing room. Looking very solemn, the President and Vice President step up to the podium, with Biden behind the microphone. He then informs the press, the nation, and the world that he has received some very bad medical news. News so bad that he will not, in good conscience, be able to accept the presidency.
The Constitution makes no provision for what would happen if a president-elect refuses to accept office. The 20th amendment says that if the president-elect dies, then the vice president-elect shall become president. Federal law says that a resignation, or a refusal of office, must be in writing, and submitted to the Secretary of State. I’m not exactly sure what the easiest way to make all this happen is, but I do know what is the most sure-fire legally. At noon on January 20th, Barack Obama, out of sight near the west portico of the Capitol, will take the vice presidential oath of office. At the same time, Joe Biden, probably wearing pajamas and a bathrobe in a room somewhere away from the Capitol, will be with the Secretary of State and an associate justice of the Supreme Court, where he will take the presidential oath of office. Then, in his first and last official act as the President, he will sign an already prepared letter stating that he has resigned the office of the President, effective immediately. He will hand this letter to the Secretary, who will relay the receipt of the letter to those at the Capitol. Then the events that I described 4000 words ago will take place. Joseph Biden will have been the 45th President of the United States. For about 45 seconds. Can you say Mount Rushmore? And who knows? I would not be at all surprised if he had a miraculous recovery, and lived long enough to actually see his face up there.
Likely? No. Possible? You decide.
January 2oth, 2021, 12:01 PM
… A tall, thin, somewhat older man stands on the west portico …
This time it was a lot easier. The people soon figured out what had happened four years ago, and while they were somewhat taken aback at first, they soon just accepted it. After all, the new Republicrat party had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, and for all practical purposes, the Speaker’s gavel had been replaced by a rubber stamp. And as for elections, well everyone knew that the fix was in, so, to quote a failed politician, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
This time the president-elect/ex-president was Michelle Obama. Simpler just to keep things in the family. And with her penchant for one-upsmanship, she was able to achieve two historical firsts. She beat Joe Biden’s record by becoming the 47th, and first female, President of the United States. For exactly thirty-seven seconds.
Oh, and in case you were worried about her, Hillary was pardoned almost four years ago.
January 20th, 2025, 12:01 PM
The sky over the Capitol Mall is partly cloudy and the temperature is somewhat brisk. Cold, but not nearly as cold as it is in Michigan, from where two elderly gentlemen, Steve, of Grand Rapids, and Rod, of Romulus, had come. They had known each other for decades, but were more casual than close friends. They first met in the late 1980’s when they were in the Navy, and in the same division aboard an aircraft carrier. When their enlistments were over, they went their separate ways and lost touch. About a dozen years ago they reconnected through the magic of social media, and had maintained contact ever since, mostly via electronic communication, although they did get together every now and then. But they both knew that they had to be at this place at this time.
Getting together with an old shipmate brings back good memories of good times that didn’t seem so good at the time. Bittersweet are the recollections of youthful craziness in exotic lands that one will never see again. Although neither spoke of it, as they took in the majestic sights of the monuments, both were slightly disturbed by what had become of what those structures were supposed to represent. What had happened to America? The America that they had defended together. The America that was unquestionably the most powerful nation on earth? The America that operated the ship, in which they served as brothers, whose mere presence in the Arabian Sea was credited by many as having caused Saddam Hussein to abandon his plan to invade Saudi Arabia? What happened to that America?
Another thing that they didn’t talk about, because strangely, or perhaps not, they didn’t notice, was how few people were milling around with them. They didn’t realize that at this place, at this time, the President of the United States was supposed to be speaking the words of his oath of office. But the last time that that had happened, and probably would ever happen, was four years ago. Since then, the American people, practical bunch that they are, came to understand that since there was now effectively a president-for-life, this whole cycle of elections and inaugurations was a waste of money that they didn’t have. After all, there were too many poor, hungry people around for the government to be throwing a big public extravaganza. Government funded private parties were, of course, quite another matter. The guy in the big house to the west was still living high on the hog.
What Steve and Rod did want to talk about was the momentous event that had called them to be at that place at that time. Six days hence they would be among a crowd almost a large as the one that they should have been among now. In six days they would be at Fedex Field. In six days, after 57 years of failure, the Detroit Lions would be playing in the Super Bowl. Now there’s something worth caring about. They were really lucky to be there. Steve had won a pair of tickets in a radio contest. And years ago, in one of those silly agreements that you make when you know that you’re never going have to pay up, they had pledged that if either of them ever had such impossible good fortune, the other would get the second ticket.
It would be a great game. The Lions had had an amazing season, and the current line had them as six point favorites. All kinds of big shots would be there, including the president-for-life and, more importantly, Barry Sanders (not to be confused with Bernie Sanders, who would be staring blankly as he drooled on himself in a socialist paradise old folks repository in Vermont).
“Holy shit,” said Rod, “I can’t believe that we’re actually here.”
“And I can’t believe that the Lions finally made it to the Super Bowl. Back in September you told me that it was already a done deal. That you knew that they would do it this year.”
“And you said that I should get a tinfoil hat.”
“So Rod, how did you know?”
“Oh, I dunno. Maybe … Do you remember the Chief, from back on the ship?”
“Of course. I saw on Facebook where he passed away last year.”
“Yeah, I saw that too, Steve.”
“Sad. He was a smart guy. Totally crazy, but smart at the same time.”
“Yeah, that was him. I remember something that he told me once.”
“What was that?”
“He said ‘No matter how improbable something seems, stranger things have happened.’ I guess he was right.”
“I guess he was. I guess he was.”
Okay, I know that this post was ridiculously long. Sorry. And thank you for reading it to the end. Oh, and before you go out, remember to take off the hat.