Under the heading “Can’t make this stuff up,” Democrat vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris remarked during a “virtual roundtable” discussion that life would improve under “A Harris administration with Joe Biden as president of the United States. . .”
Incredibly, Joe Biden made a similar error at a campaign stop in Tampa, Florida. While discussing the need to improve the careers and jobs of military veterans, Joe began by saying “A Harris-Biden administration is going to relaunch that effort and keep pushing further. . .”
Joe’s speaking flub is understandable, he does it all the time. As an example, he recently commented “It’s estimated that 200 million people have died from COVID-19. . . probably by the time I finish this talk.” That would be about two-thirds of the entire U.S. population.
Kamala’s statement, on the other hand, is genuinely perplexing, considering she’s had ample public speaking experience throughout her career and isn’t particularly prone to making unintended mistakes. Plus, being 22 years younger than Joe may help.
Consequently, the natural reaction to these two separate incidents is “Huh?” Are both Biden and Harris now inflicted with some mysterious speaking ailment? Can it be COVID-19 related? Is Joe an asymptomatic carrier of the disorder? Will Kamala eventually recover in time to take her rightful place in the Oval Office? More importantly, will Joe remember she’s his running mate?
Or, is there some other concealed motive why they both happened to mention a sudden switch of job positions if they go to Washington? As the elected P, Biden becomes the VP, and as the elected VP Harris becomes the P.
I don’t know. I don’t know if Joe and Kamala know. I don’t know if all the news pundits at CNN and the New York Times know. I don’t know if any psychic or astrologer knows. I don’t know if anyone knows. Except, maybe, Hillary Clinton, who seems to know everything but is still in a deep funk over her loss to Trump.
What I do know, however, is politics at the national level can be a very tricky and conniving business. I suppose there are rules, limiting what is tolerable and what isn’t. Unfortunately, the rules are written by many of the people they are supposed to apply to.
Article II of the United States Constitution outlines the qualifications, election procedure, death, removal and replacement of a president. The law is easily understandable and not contradictory.
However, I don’t believe the wisdom and foresight of the Founders ever conceived the possibility there may come a time when an elected president and vice president mutually decided to change roles.
As we’ve seen many times in the political arena, a loop-hole in the law may be exploited for personal gain. Theordore Roosevelt, campaigning under the Bull Moose Party, attempted an unsuccessful third term for president.
However, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was successful in his efforts, winning an unprecedented third and fourth terms to the presidency. By custom, every president since George Washington had voluntarily stepped down after serving two terms. Roosevelt realized there wasn’t any written law requiring him to relinquish the position, so he kept running and being reelected until eventually dying in office.
After Roosevelt’s death, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution limiting a president to a maximum of two terms in office.
Congress may have to again revisit the constitutional legitimacy of a possible bait-and-switch scam that could be utilized between an elected president and his vice president. Just because the ruse hasn’t been tried before doesn’t mean it never will.
Mike Bibb lives in Safford.