Robert Dallek says Trump isn’t qualified to be presidentHistorians in the News
tags: Robert Dallek, Trump
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution may define the conditions for suspending a president’s authority, but it does not constrain the reasoning behind it.
As written, the amendment states that if a president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office,” the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can suspend him. Historically, such an inability was attributable to illness or medical problems, but, in light of President Donald Trump, I offer we expand our interpretation: Medicine aside, it is clear Trump is unfit to serve, and lawmakers must invoke the 25th Amendment against him.
Fears of physical disability were certainly foremost in bringing about the amendment. Going back to at least the 1890s, when President Grover Cleveland had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his jaw, the country had been in jeopardy of being governed by a chief executive who had lost his physical capacity to lead the nation. In 1919-1920, when a stroke immobilized Woodrow Wilson, and his wife largely ran the executive branch, Americans worried about finding a way to overcome temporary or permanent presidential incapacity.
Franklin Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House added to the sense of urgency about replacing a disabled president. By 1944, it was clear to people around Roosevelt that his health was in decline and that he might not live out a fourth term, which proved to be the case.
Ten years later, in the midst of the Cold War, when Dwight Eisenhower served in the Oval Office and suffered a heart attack that temporarily sidelined him, the need to do something about presidential health became more compelling, or so it seemed to the country’s governing authorities. With Lyndon Johnson in the White House, and questions swirling about his rationality in response to the stalemated war in Vietnam, political leaders from both parties saw the wisdom of passing the 25th Amendment. ...
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