Polman: Trump's ravings are dangerous
Check out the 25th Constitutional Amendment. A vice president, working with a "majority of either the principle officers of the executive departments, or of such body as Congress may by law provide," can remove the president for being "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
Even the craven enabling Republicans would do well to read that provision, because the day may come when they're finally compelled to acknowledge — in the national interest — that Trump is dangerously off his rocker. We're only six days into this farce, and it's obvious already. As conservative commentator Andrew Ferguson rightly points out, "the candidate who campaigned as a sociopath shows signs he may yet govern as one."
The latest reminder is Trump's alternative fact about the election. At the tail end of November, he said he was robbed of a popular vote victory because millions of people had "voted illegally" for Hillary. It was just another baldfaced lie. He had zero evidence of massive voter fraud, just as he'd had zero evidence that Obama was foreign-born. We figured — foolish us — that Trump, with his attention deficit disorder, would simply forget the lie and find a new one. Which he did.
But now he's obsessing about it again, marinating anew in his delusion. We should not be surprised. Sick and twisted people do stuff like this.
On Monday night, during a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, he stated that he lost the popular vote because three to five million people voted illegally. He offered no evidence of mass fraud, because there isn't any. Then during a press briefing, propaganda minister Sean Spicer recited Trump's alternative fact, and said it was "based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him." The press asked: What studies? What evidence? Spicer replied: "Studies and information he has."
What studies? What information? Trump is apparently still fixated on a November story that was posted on Infowars, a tinfoil-hat website, which declared in a headline: "3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens." Problem is, the story had no evidence. Plus, the guy who runs Infowars has stated on the record that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre never happened.
But Trump still won't let it go, taking to Twitter to announce, "I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD."
Someone in the Justice Department should tell him that illegal voting on a massive scale is impossible to pull off without everyone noticing it on day one. Someone in Justice should remind him that when Jill Stein sought recounts shortly after the election, his own lawyers wrote: "All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake." But he wouldn't listen.
A few Republicans have roused themselves to protest Trump's idiocy. Mike Huckabee, a big supporter, told Fox News Business Network, "I have no evidence whatsoever, and I don't know that anyone does, that there are that many illegal people who voted ... I'm not sure why he brought it up."
Sen. Lindsey Graham had the most substantive rebuke. "I would urge the president to knock this off ... To continue to insist that the 2016 election was conducted in a fashion that millions of people voted illegally undermines faith in our democracy," Graham said. "People are going to start doubting you as a person."
But, all too predictably, most Republicans reacted as if jelly had replaced their spines. In their lust to enact their long-stymied agenda (throwing people off Obamacare, gutting the EPA, etc.), they're apparently prepared to indulge Trump's serial lies and delusions.
His temperament is already a burgeoning issue. The anecdotes are piling up. But what's most remarkable about a recent Washington Post story about Trump's first week in office is the ninth paragraph: "This account of Trump's tumultuous first days in office comes from interviews with nearly a dozen senior White House officials and other Trump advisers and confidants, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations and moments." In other words, Trump aides are already leaking like a sieve — to the free and independent press that Trump hates.
So the question is: How long will Republicans indulge him before they man up to do their duty? Will they sit silent until he rants us to the brink of a needless war that could get a lot of people killed? This week's "voter fraud" delusion is merely a toxic appetizer.
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a "Writer in Residence" at the University of Pennsylvania.