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Analysis: Rick Scott just went there on Biden and the 25th Amendment


Perhaps unhappy with the soaring profile of fellow Floridian Ron DeSantis among the Trumpist base of the Republican Party, Sen. Rick Scott decided to do something about it on Monday.

“After the disastrous events in Afghanistan, we must confront a serious question: Is Joe Biden capable of discharging the duties of his office or has time come to exercise the provisions of the 25th Amendment?” he tweeted.

Which, whaaa?

Look. There is no question that the images coming out of Afghanistan over the past days have been horrifying. And that Biden – and his top aides – were caught by surprise by the rapid capitulation of the Afghan forces to the Taliban. And even that Biden’s blame game speech on Monday afternoon likely worsened his political position rather than strengthening it.

All of those things are true! And absolutely none of them suggests that the 25th Amendment should be invoked!

Let’s remember what we are talking about here. While most of the amendment is dedicated to formalizing presidential succession – it was passed in the wake of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the ascension of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson – there is this passage, in Section 4, dealing with the removal of the president:

“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.”

While the first few sections of the 25th Amendment have been used sparingly – most notably when Gerald Ford succeeded to the presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation – Section 4 has never been invoked.

The reason is simple: It’s a REALLY high bar for the vice president and a majority of the presidential Cabinet to decide as a group that the president – aka the person who chose them for their jobs – had lost the ability to do his own job. That was, of course, on purpose. The overturning of the will of the people – as expressed through a presidential election – by a small group of government bureaucrats should be something that is used only in absolutely extreme circumstances.

These are not those circumstances. Not even close.

Rick Scott is no dummy. He knows this.

What he’s doing is simple: He’s an ambitious politician – Scott is mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate – who wants to throw some red meat to the base. He knows that by tossing out the outlandish idea of invoking the 25th Amendment against Biden, he will get attention – and kudos – from those most closely aligned with the former president.

The problem? Words have consequences. When a sitting US senator throws out the idea of removing the president of the United States because a foreign policy decision has not gone according to plan, he degrades the seriousness of such as move. And for what? To score some cheap political points?

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