What happens if Trump’s presidency goes into meltdown mode in the wake of the Comey firing and Trump’s crazed twitter threats to end White House press briefings? What’s left if and when the smoke clears? Are conservatives and Republicans permanently tarnished by a collapse of Trump and Trumpismo? Can they still govern in the aftermath of a shattered “Republican” presidency?
Vice President Mike Pence is next in line, of course, but wouldn’t he be severely weakened by a collapse of an administration of which he was an integral part? His succession presidency would be embattled and damaged from the get-go due to the Trumpian wreckage — and he, himself, will be damaged goods in the minds of many Americans.
Next in line, after Pence, is Paul Ryan who probably should have run for the GOP nomination in the first place and would, if he had won, have been a good president. But as House Speaker he’s had his hands full with a contentious caucus and a thick headed, bellicose president. He’s been tarnished by events, too. Were Pence to step aside it’s unlikely even Ryan could pick up the pieces, pushing us toward a genuine constitutional crisis.
Personally, I have reached the point where I’d love to see Trump out. He’s doing more harm to the Republican cause and its agenda than he is helping it. But I fear what must come after. It’s not that I don’t like those next in line, both of whom would make excellent presidents, or that I oppose their policy agendas because I don’t. It’s just that I worry that the country would never settle down with either of them in the aftermath of these last few months under the mercurial and bellicose Reality TV star and real estate mogul who has commanded the stage pretty much since showing up in the GOP primary campaign. He won the nomination by corralling a solid 40% of pissed off Republican voters in the primaries against an overly large and very divided field in which no one in the race exhibited any kind of voter effect comparable to his. And then he won the general election by the skin of his teeth in three key states against an historically weak Democratic candidate.
After he was sworn in he could have reached out to others, broadened his appeal, shown he was a serious guy aware of the enormous power and responsibility he had managed to win. Instead he went twitter happy. And has chosen to play the role of a petty potentate rather than a democratically elected American leader.
In the aftermath of a Trump meltdown, we could well see historic levels of discord around the country in which case it could take nothing less than an existential national threat to pull us together again. And all because Trump can’t keep his trap shut or act like a gentleman when sacking an appointee who, on all the evidence, deserved it.