Five or six years ago, the now defunct website Gawker published a study showing that America was the funniest country in the world. The site's warning was about the way the people found the U.S. funny. The author was sure that the participants in the poll were not mean people thinking it was insultingly funny, they meant the U.S. had the funniest staff. But thanks to President Donald Trump on the one hand, and the Democrats trying to remove him from the office on the other, now the strongest, richest, most powerful nation in the world is laughed at, sarcastically, and not behind its back, but to its face.
This week, Trump met for the first time with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of meddling in the elections that brought Trump to power. The two countries are fighting at least two proxy wars in the Middle East and Africa. They are said to be preparing for a third one on the Korean Peninsula. Have we seen a flood of newspaper articles on these talks? Have we heard extensive TV programs on what the U.S. was going to say or how it was going to counter what Russia might say? Were it not for the Russian media, we would not have the gist of the subjects that might be raised on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
Instead, all week we have been following the Democratic initiative with which Congress could remove Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Added to the Constitution in 1967 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 25th Amendment sets the rules for replacing a president in the event that the president or vice president is killed, incapacitated or resigns from office.
Now, a Democratic representative with obviously too much time on his hands submitted a bill to create a congressional oversight committee that could declare the president to be incapacitated. Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland says that the country should be prepared in case the president becomes incapacitated. He told reporters: "In case of emergency, break glass."
The president in the submitted bill is clearly meant to be the president the U.S. has at the moment because Raskin looks at the things that have happened since January and finds them to be a "truly bizarre litany of outbursts."
Those of us who took comparative politics courses in the 1960s and 1970s could not fathom that the 25th Amendment could be used to remove a sitting president from office. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson, who had the historical honor of providing ships for the Greek army to invade İzmir, suffered a debilitating stroke, yet nobody thought that he should be removed from office. It was the worst kept secret in Washington that in 1973, President Richard Nixon was suffering from severe alcoholism, and all of Congress wanted to remove him from office because of his illegal handling of the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, yet it did not occur to anyone to declare him incapacitated.
The infighting in U.S. politics is not just a laughing matter; it is scary. With one silly tweet, Trump egged Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt onto a warpath that could put Qatar as well as Israel, Iraq and Syria in flames. One careless missile, even one wrong speech, could move the Iranian mullahs to those buttons that recently sent a ballistic missile all the way from Iran to Syria. Apparently, there are more of them in Iran, and with a little route correction, the same missile could be sent to Israeli cities.
Can the bigwigs on Capitol Hill not know such a simple fact and instead of spending good time and energy on such schemes as sending Trump home with a simple finding of the Senate or House of Representatives? The 25th Amendment does not provide a clear procedure for defining the incapacity of a sitting president. Congress had in mind a president or vice president in a coffin or a deep coma when it wrote the amendment. How can a Democratic representative think that the Republican majority would accept it, and Trump would not veto it?
Don't they know that the world has much more urgent issues like global warming, Sudan, famine in Africa, worldwide drug problems, wars all over the world and the Russian occupations in Ukraine and Georgia?
For the last five months, millions of airline passengers have been distressed by the cabin electronics ban on flights from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey to the United States. The ban is being removed gradually with installation of new X-ray machines. Will nobody in Congress ask the administration about this ban, which must have shamed the U.S.?
Yes, Trump is a funny man, but we are not amused by the way the American media and the body politic are handling his antics.