New territory here - but nothing outlandish.
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Sober Republicans understand that Donald Trump is unfit to wield the awesome power of the presidency, power that in his unsteady hands could imperil the republic and perhaps — given his cavalier discussion of nuclear weapons and generally reckless approach to foreign relations— doom the planet. But even now, at this very late date in the election season, there is one last chance for the Republican establishment to dump Trump: by flipping the ticket and putting the plodding, but at least plausible, Mike Pence in charge.
Watching the vice presidential debate, quite a few Republicans surely wished they inhabited the alternate universe in which Pence, an experienced politician with apparent steadiness and self-discipline, was their nominee. That does not have to be an idle thought; there’s a way to make it happen.
True, early voting has already begun in some places, and almost everywhere it is too late to revise ballots. But a flipped ticket does not require any formal ballot change.
The first step of The Flip must begin very soon — ideally, this week or next. At a joint press conference, Pence and Trump should with fanfare announce that, if they win in November, Pence will be in charge, thanks to the rules laid down by the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967 after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
At the press conference, Trump would solemnly pledge that on Inauguration Day, January 20, he will, only minutes after taking his oath of office, step aside by invoking the presidential disability provisions of Section Three of the Amendment — much as he might step aside if he were undergoing a scheduled coronary bypass that day. He will give notice on Inauguration Day to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the house that he is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
Once Trump does step aside on Inauguration Day, Pence would automatically become acting president of the United States under Section Three, entitled to all the powers of the office until Trump seeks to reassert his rights — which Trump at the press conference must promise he will never do. Trump, however, would technically retain the title of president.
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