What if Biden's dementia accelerates and becomes impossible to hide?
I’m far from an expert on dementia, but it looks to my layman’s eye that the pace of President Biden’s decline is picking up. So, what if something awful happens and nobody can deny with a straight face that he is impaired?
His puppet masters want him to remain in office through the election. An incumbent Kamala Harris, even if only an “Acting President,” under the 25th and therefore never sworn into the office, would be painful to dislodge from heading the ticket in 2024. They know that she is a sure loser in 2024, beyond the ability of electoral cheating to remedy. The idea that Trump might win running against her terrifies them.
Then there is Jill Biden, with her love of titles, status, and perks, who would want to stay on as First Lady rather than becoming another caregiver for an elderly retired dementia victim. She would want to resist demands for his resignation or notification under the terms of the 25th Amendment that he is unable to do his job. As the spouse of a partially or fully incapacitated elder, she probably has control over any formal letter that he might be pressed to issue. As in the case of Edith Wilson, she might develop a taste for exercising the powers of the presidency. Unlike Edith Wilson’s situation, there is no recovery from dementia.
Unsurprisingly, The Babylon Bee, with a track record of satire that becomes prophecy, anticipated a scenario of Joe Biden incapacitated but still in office, turning whistleblower: “Strangers drag me from place to place and make me sign papers and read words on monitors and I hardly get any ice cream!"
So, what happens if Biden suffers a terrible fall and disappears from public view for an extended period that becomes permanent? Even with promising updates from the medical team that consistently has assured the public he is fine, concern would grow with each day, each week, and each month. Or what if his lapses into incoherence become more frequent and more embarrassing, and he wanders offstage, for instance, in the middle of a speech? Or loses control of his bowels while on camera and talking? There are too many unpleasant – and tragic for him and for the country – possibilities to go any further with this sort of speculation. Dementia can be very cruel.
What would Kamala Harris do as she is denied access to the presidency while the public is increasingly aware that Biden is non compos mentis? At first, probably leak (to the extent she is in the loop) information on disasters that are unfolding due to the president’s incapacity. She’d no doubt encourage her partisans to discuss the 25th Amendment, which can be invoked without the consent or concurrence of the president (or Jill). Section Four:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Kamala would have to lobby hard and make promises to the cabinet members to get their assent to invoke the 25th. Even an acting president, not sworn into office as POTUS, has lots of rewards and more than a few threats that can be exercised if a simple majority of the cabinet is persuaded. The argument could be that they do not want to be caught in the minority sticking with a president whose incapacity is a threat to the republic, once she is handed the “powers and duties” of the office. She could go after them with righteous fury, and with her new powers could release information to further humiliate those who are trying to keep him in office when he is beyond fixing.
As I explained a couple of days ago, there is a big difference between removing Biden from the powers and duties of the presidency via the 25th and him leaving the office itself by resignation, death, or impeachment. Under the 25th, the vice presidency doesn’t become vacant and Kamala would not be sworn into office as the POTUS. So, there is no way to appoint a new veep. If anything untoward were to happen to Kamala while in office, Republicans would argue that the Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, would succeed her and be formally inaugurated. But there is no constitutional or legal provision for this, and it might well be argued that the powers and duties of the president revert to the incapacitated Biden; a constitutional crisis like no other in history would ensue.
This is one of several problematic contingencies that the drafters and ratifiers of the 25th Amendment failed to consider. So is a death in office of an acting president like Kamala. An incapacitated president could not nominate another vice president to replace her as vice president and therefore acting president. Another, even deeper constitutional crisis, with nobody in charge of the executive branch. A clear and present danger to the republic.
Biden, or those controllng him, could fight back. Section Four continues:
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
One solution to such contingencies would be the involuntary removal from office of Biden via impeachment. It is actually easier to remove him from office via impeachment than to keep him from returning to office after being 'twenty-fifthed.' The former requires only a majority vote of the House, while the latter needs two-thirds.
Faced with charges of crippling the nation by keeping the presidency vacant, it is conceivable that a two-thirds majority of the Senate would be willing to remove Biden from office by convicting him of any charges the GOP-led House might come up with. Chuck Schumer would no doubt demand concessions in return for such an agreement, but the possibilities are so many and so difficult to predict that I’ll just leave them to readers’ imaginations.
If Joe and Jill Biden and their extended family, all of whom seem to have been enriching themselves from his high offices, actually cared about the nation’s fate and his personal welfare, they would see him resign from office. But that obviously is not going to happen, not only out of their own greed and power proclivities, but because the puppeteers controlling Biden and the entire party want to keep Kamala off the ticket in 2024.
The national interest has never been the animating force behind any of these people. The damage they have done already is terrible to contemplate. But the potential for crisis inherent in Joe Biden’s seemingly accelerating decline into dementia could be far worse, even existential, if enemies decide to take advantage of an American government immobilized by an extended vacancy at the top of the executive branch, perpetuated by political squabbles in the legislative branch of government.
We are indeed cursed to live in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb has it.
Photo credit: Twitter video screen grab (cropped).