Bob Bestler

Trump playing role of placeholder for president is preposterous

In the days immediately after release of the infamous “Hollywood Access” video, a lot of Republicans were grappling over the fate of their presidential candidate and, indeed, their party.

It put a lot of good people in a quandary as they tried to explain (1) their repulsion at Donald Trump’s words on the video and (2) their great desire to elect a Republican to the presidency on Nov. 8.

Some went so far as to suggest that Trump remove himself from the ticket and let Mike Pence take his place– a solution that, made a month before election, seemed wholly impractical and, worse, an invitation to certain defeat.

Two of those who wanted Trump removed – lawyer Scott Grant and political scientist Bruce Peabody – offered a third solution in an op-ed piece that appeared in the Oct. 10 Wall Street Journal. It carried the headline, “A Path to President Pence.”

As they noted, it would be impractical for Trump to remove himself. Ballots have been printed and many states are knee-deep into early voting.

So they presented a third way –a serious proposal, I guess, but one that sounded like a political contraption designed by Rube Goldberg, filled with pretzellike contortions that only reinforce what a strange election year this has been.

The authors wanted Trump to remain at the top of the ticket, but to agree well in advance (yesterday, if not sooner, I guess) that he would resign on Jan. 20, 2017, minutes after taking the oath of office. That would immediately turn the White House over to Vice President Pence.

What makes them think Trump, even if he agreed to any of this, would follow through?

Well, see, if he doesn’t we can just threaten to have Congress impeach him.

That mere threat will surely bring a President Trump to his knees, though even the authors don't know if “refusing to uphold a resignation pledge” is an impeachable offense. Welcome to the Supreme Court, laddies.

The authors go on to say that Pence should name his own vice presidential successor ahead of the election “giving voters greater confidence in Mr. Trump’s commitment to follow through with the resignation plan.”

The beauty of this proposal, the authors say, again in all sincerity, is that “Americans inclined to vote Republican but who are unwilling to support Mr. Trump would be able to vote for him in name only, with the understanding that he was just a placeholder.”

That last makes me wonder if these two learned men have been following the 2016 election.

Donald Trump as “just a placeholder?” Even a Rube Goldberg contraption would never have dared to go so far.

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