Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Twenty Five

In the season four finale of The West Wing, terrorists kidnap the president's daughter. President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, invokes section three of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, temporarily ceding the presidency to the speaker of the House (there is no vice president). Bartlett (correctly) believes he is incapable of making decisions in the best interest of the country while his daughter is being held hostage.

Now imagine that the president has dozens of unguarded children scattered around the globe, susceptible to kidnapping, murder and extortion. Could any decision he makes ever be considered in the best interests of the country, when his babies are constantly under threat?

That scenario will come to pass when Donald Trump assumes the presidency in January. The targets won't be Trump's actual children, but his office buildings, golf courses, hotels and resorts, which terrorism experts call "soft targets." I alluded to this problem in an earlier post, and now security analysts are voicing the same concerns.

Trump has now acknowledged as much, and claims that he'll be separating himself from "business operations" to avoid conflicts of interest. This is totally bogus. He will still own the properties. He will still derive income from them. They will still have his name on them. He will still know and communicate with the cronies who will control them. They will still be his babies.

This vast network of mostly unprofitable properties (i.e., tax dodges) will be a drag on Trump's presidency, making him vulnerable to terrorism, bribery, blackmail and extortion. His ego will never allow him to truly let go of his babies.

He could, of course, ameliorate these concerns by actually selling these properties on the condition that they be renamed, and by releasing all his tax returns from the last 20 years so that we can see that he really has divested himself of these conflicts of interest. But what are the odds he'll do that?

After the first couple of terrorist attacks on Trump properties questions will arise about whether Trump is caving in to terrorist demands. Will the vast majority of Republicans in congress that Trump insulted throughout the election have the balls to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and install their dream guy Mike Pence as president?

Donald Trump's paranoia is going to make Dick Nixon look like Pollyanna.

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