By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

The website I visited gave the following teaser line:

Sick: Networks Excited By ‘Worst Case Scenario’ After Trump Tests Positive for the Chi-Com Virus, Discuss Pelosi Becoming President Under 25th Amendment

It hurt when I slapped myself in the forehead, once again.

How is it possible for an entire political party, and their adoring media, to be so ignorant of the United States Constitution in such a horrible way?

What’s worse is that people actually pay attention to this garbage.  I have Democrat and Republican voters alike asking me about this “Pelosi could become president” or “Pelosi could become vice-president” (depending on the conspiracy theory) crap, again, and again, and again.  Are we that gullible?

First of all, this COVID-19 Chinese Wuhan Coronavirus is not the plague they are making it out to be.  While older, Trump is super healthy and will probably either have no symptoms, or a minor case of a cough.  Second, it could even be a false positive.  I can’t count how many times nurses and doctors have told me that the common cold can sometimes show up as a positive for the coronavirus.  Lastly, some people who are no longer sick, but had (that’s past-tense, had) the corona virus can test positive.  So, first, because we are such a flawed species in our understanding and testing of such things, a positive test really doesn’t mean much at all.

That all said, it disgusts me that the news of the President of the United States testing positive for any kind of medical condition or virus should have the mainstream media, and their allies, excited and giddy for worse case scenarios regarding Mr. Trump.  Expecting the worse, and hoping for the worse, when it comes to anyone, is horrid at best.

Then, their discussions got really stupid.

From NewsBusters:

During the 3rd Hour Today show, the hosts spend a substantial amount of time strategizing what would happen in the worst case scenario with presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

MELVIN: …[I]n the past when the president has become seriously ill, what’s happened? How many times has something like this happened in our nation’s history? 

PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Well, the last time a president’s life was in this much jeopardy was in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, D.C. outside the Washington Hilton. And he benefited from the fact that there was something called an amendment to the Constitution which allows a president to temporarily pass power, if necessary.

So the good part of this is if there is any silver lining to this, Craig, is we’ve got a constitutional system. If something, God forbid, happened to a president and/or a vice president or then a Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore in the Senate, then you go through the cabinet in order basically at seniority so there is a line of succession, the republic would be secure. 

DYLAN DREYER: So breaking down that process, if the worst case scenario does come true and the president might be able to temporarily do his job, what is the exact next step that happens? 

During this discussion, Beschloss repeatedly hyped how Trump was very sick, even though the White House physician said he was “well” and didn’t disclose if he was experiencing any symptoms. Regardless, Beschloss stated, “We’re about to see a time in history we have never seen before, especially because we are one month before a president running for re-election. We have never seen a president this sick so soon this close to an election.”

Chuck Todd and Al Roker also floated the idea of Nancy Pelosi becoming acting president:

TODD: This White House in particular needs to go above and beyond in its transparency about this….The line of succession to the presidency, once you get after the vice president, is up on Capitol Hill with the speaker Nancy Pelosi…

ROKER:  [E]ven though we know Vice President said this morning he tested positive [sic] but how far down the line–How far down the line is the line of succession do they get planned for something like this? 

While discussing the 25th Amendment possibility with correspondent Terry Moran on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-anchor Cecilia Vega wondered, “What would happen if the vice president were to become unable to fill in for President Trump?”

Moran noted how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was “next in line of succession,” and “would resign and become acting president.” 

Over on CBS, correspondent Major Garrett also suggested Trump becoming “seriously ill” and needing to invoke the 25th Amendment  to co-anchor Tony Dokoupil:

DOKOUPIL: …[H]ow likely is it that he’ll be able to carry out his duties in quarantine? 

MAJOR GARRETT: Fully likely as long as he doesn’t get seriously ill. If he gets seriously ill then the 25th Amendment comes into play. Ratified in 1967, it’s a temporary transfer of power to the vice president if for any reason medical or otherwise you’re incapacitated. We’re not there yet, we’re not close to that but It’s a question on the minds of every citizen. And the White House has to explain daily how the president’s doing and how close, if at all close, it’s getting to that point. 

Gayle King ended this segment touting the “ramifications” from the President’s positive test. Dokoupil later asked John Dickerson about using the amendment again “if the president takes a bad turn.”

Under the 25th Amendment, if the President becomes unable to handle his duties, the Vice President becomes “Acting President”.  The process cannot be begun unless the Vice President also agrees.  Congress cannot proclaim the President unable to carry out his duties without the Vice President and a majority of principle officers in the executive branch agreeing.  It is possible for the Congress to create another body of persons, but that is only in the case the Vice President and the executive officers are unable to carry out their part of the deal.  Then, it takes “Congress”, which is both Houses of Congress, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, to fully decide the President must be replaced because he cannot discharge his duties.  This may only be a temporary measure unless the handicap becomes permanent (such as a stroke, or death).  If the Vice President, at the time of the death of the President, is still alive, even if sick, he becomes acting President.  If he is unable to carry out those duties, then he may nominate a new Vice President, which would be confirmed by the Senate, and then that person would be acting President until the former Vice President, who became President due to the death of the President, can resume the duties of President.  At no point is Pelosi even in the running to become either President or Vice President.  Her position, and the line of succession, was put into place due to worries during the atomic/nuclear age which considered it a strong possibility that a number of persons could be killed simultaneously due to an attack.  Then, and only then, does that line of succession matter.  If the deaths are not simultaneous, then the line of succession does not come into play.

As for any election shenanigans, we need to go to Amendment 20 for that one.  If elected, but killed before inauguration day, meaning the president vacates his seat in such manner before he is actually sworn in, the vice president becomes president, and then nominates his vice president after the inauguration.  If both seats are vacated before inauguration day, then Congress determines the temporary acting president and vice president until a new election can resolve the problem.  The House would choose the President and the Senate would choose the Vice President.  The new Congress, though, if the deaths happen after the new session begins, would be the ones making the choice.  So if the Republicans were to regain the House, once again, Pelosi has nothing to do with any of it.  

Here’s my prediction.

President Trump is much healthier than the average American his age, and will probably either be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic during his time of having this virus, if he has it at all.  Pence, who may also get it, too, if they haven’t already reported such, will probably experience the same.  Remember, a very small percentage of people who get this thing even experience any symptoms.  It is a very mild and benign virus for most people.  The hype has been worse than its bite.  Of course, the mildness of the disease with Trump, once again, that is if he even has it in the first place, will drive the media nuts to no end, as it usually does.  Then, on election day he will win in such a massive landslide that the mail-in ballots likely won’t matter.  They will then get caught with massive fraud, but some mail-ins will count, and then we will spend the next four years watching these idiots flip out again, poking their own eyes out, as they run in circles with their hair on fire.

But, that’s just me.

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