Home / OPINION / Analysis / The political vultures circling Biden and Trump

The political vultures circling Biden and Trump

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“What if?”

That is the much-hoped-for question now pinballing within the minds of certain politicians and staff members with regard to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. None may want to publicly admit to such eager anticipation, but some are not only thinking about the question, but war-gaming the steps needed to pounce should the question become a reality.

For Biden, the “what if” question is: What if the 25th Amendment is used to remove Biden from office should his health take a turn for the worse? For Trump, the question is: What if his legal issues prevent him from becoming the Republican nominee or president?

Although they would likely deny it, one can imagine some staffers of Vice President Kamala Harris fantasizing that Biden does get removed from office through the 25th Amendment and she then assumes the presidency. That amendment allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president from power if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Should anyone believe that such a thought process has not gone through the minds of Harris and her staff on a regular basis, then they may need a refresher class in both “Politics 101” as well as “Basic Human Nature 101.” While they may honestly not want Biden’s perceived cognitive issues to progress to the point where he is no longer able to carry out his duties, that doesn’t mean Harris and her team aren’t entertaining that “what if” question.

For those who may be offended by the presentation of such a scenario, do they also believe that Harris does not dream of becoming the first female president in the history of the United States of America? Only one woman will ever be able to break that barrier into the history books, and Harris is so very, very close.

I have previously written in this space that a possible option for the Democrats to switch out Biden and Harris before the November election would be for Biden or others to convince Harris to resign; then Biden appoints someone like California Gov. Gavin Newsom to take her place; then, weeks later, Biden announces he is resigning, Newsom becomes acting president and appoints a new vice president.

The Democratic operatives I speak with stress that Kamala Harris would never agree to such a plan — because there is the growing possibility that Biden may not be able to finish his term. Nonsense?

Logic and probability studies alone strongly make the case that it would be nonsense to believe that Harris and her team have not war-gamed just such a scenario. One reason being … it’s their responsibility to do so. With any president, there is always the possibility of not finishing a term, caused by anything from a health crisis to an assassination. As vice president, it is your duty to the nation to be prepared to step into that void at a moment’s notice. The fact that some increasingly believe that Biden’s perceived cognitive issues may be progressing certainly adds another layer of “what if” questions for Harris and her team to ponder.

Next, we turn to former President Trump. You could be forgiven for losing track of how many courts the former president has been dragged into of late as he fights off what most Republicans believe to be “lawfare” tactics initiated by activist Democratic judges, prosecutors and district attorneys seeking to force the leading GOP candidate out of the race.

But, be it all crass partisan politics or not, that “what if” question is surely echoing within the heads of at least two prominent Republican politicians and their staff: Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

In a piece published earlier this week by NBC News headlined “Ron DeSantis shares his concerns about Trump in a private call with supporters,” a Republican operative said the quiet part out loud:

 “The timing of this ostensibly thank you call to influential state-level Republicans the DeSantis campaign recruited to be delegates to the 2024 convention is odd,” said the Republican, who requested anonymity to share thoughts on a private call. “A month ago, sure, but now? It really seems like the governor is trying to keep the door open in the event something happens between now and Milwaukee that creates an opportunity for him to have his name put into nomination from the floor.”

Multiple stories have reported that Nikki Haley and her team have also been thinking about — or salivating over — the possibility of that “what if” question suddenly becoming a reality. It can easily be imagined that she, like DeSantis, then envisions herself as the white knight sitting atop the majestic stallion riding into the convention to save the GOP from embarrassment and self-destruction.

As those two “what if” questions unleash the political vultures to fly high above the still-standing-but-perceived-to-be-stumbling Biden and Trump, off in the distance it is easy to imagine independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. looking up into the sky, seeing the vultures and asking himself a different “what if” question.

This election cycle left “surreal” in the rear-view mirror a long time ago.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.